Kansas City J20 First Anniversary – Report Back

The Greater Kansas City IWW tabled at two separate events on the first anniversary of J20.

The first event was the first installment in a series of talks about racism in    America, hosted by the Reale Justice Network. This event focused on the city council’s vote to privatize the streets and sidewalks in the Westport area — a backwards attempt at gun control — and how that relates to the Sun Fresh grocery store boycott which was triggered by occurrences of violence and intimidation against black people perpetrated by police and private security forces at the store.

On December 11, 2017,

While going to the store to get soup for his sick wife, a community member was profiled and harassed by security guards at Sunfresh on Mills street in Westport. 3 security guards were on the ready to pull their weapons on him, a CUSTOMER who had shopped in that store several times. Since the incident, management has been UNCOOPERATIVE, UNACCOUNTABLE and UNCONCERNED about the potential physical harm that was sure to occur if one wrong move was made or the very real emotional and psychological harm this abuse did cause this family. [via Reale Justice Network]

***************CALL TO ACTION*************


Bob Smith runs the store, CALL HIM at 816-931-1639, ASK for the customer complaints process, Let him know how you feel about people being profiled and harassed in his store. TELL him to do the right thing, and reach out to the family for a proper meeting.

Tell your friends and family about what’s happening at this store.

CALL WSC SECURITY SERVICES, 913-305-3776, TELL THEM TO FIRE THE 3 GUARDS and to respond to the list of demands from the family and community organizations.

Demand that WSC issues an apology to Mr. Bowers

Please follow us on Facebook @Realejustice00, we will be following up on all demands and will update you all on what is going on and any next steps.

Reale Justice Network/No Justice No Profit/Operation Shut it down Demands

  1. We demand an apology for the way that Mr. Bowers was treated in the store.
  2. We demand a meeting with the store owner.
  3. We demand to be advised of the proper complaints process for the store.
  4. We demand to be advised of the proper complaints process for the security company, WSC Services.
  5. We demand the immediate release of the security video to the family.
  6. We demand the firing of all 3 security guards.
  7. We demand that Sunfresh releases it’s policies on following customers.
  8. We demand that WSC Services releases its policies on following customers.
  9. We demand that Sunfresh implement new non-discrimination policies, approved by the Bowers family, grassroots and community organizations.
  10. We demand that WSC Services implements new non-discrimination policies, approved by the Bowers family, grassroots and community organizations.


The second event, hosted by Food Not Bombs and IWW was the first installment in a series of screenings of Submedia’s documentary series Trouble and featured a group discussion of local anti-capitalist/activist efforts in the Kansas City area in the past year, present efforts and needs, and future goals and ambitions.

Introduction to J20 [read by 2 wobblies and a representative from Food Not Bombs]

On January 20th, 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president. People showed up to protest all over the country. Over a million were in the streets. In D.C., particularly, many felt drawn to the capitol to express their dissent.

The MPD – D.C.’s police force – have a history of using excessive force to extinguish protests. In fact, Chief Newsham in 2002 ordered another mass arrest where over 400 “peaceful demonstrators, tourists, passers-by, and legal observers” were hogtied and many remained that way for over 24 hours.  The district was ultimately required to pay nearly 11 million dollars in settlements. Nearly everyone expected them to use a little more restraint on this occasion because of that incident.

They did not comply with people’s’ expectations. On January 20th, the MPD hurled concussion grenades at people just walking down the street engaged in peaceful protest. They also sprayed people with a chemical agent known as OC spray – or pepper

spray – but is certainly not as innocuous as it sounds. According to the KQED health website, it has been found to cause permanent damage to the cornea after repeated exposure. It is an inflammatory agent that in high doses can cause respiratory, cardiac, and neurological problems, or even death.

After all of these abuses that the MPD inflicted on DC residents and visitors, they proceeded to engage in a mass arrest, also known as a kettle, sweeping up 230 people indiscriminately just for being in the area when they decided to do it. They kept these people literally backed up against a wall with no access to bathrooms, food, or water for 8 hours. People were forced to urinate in empty water bottles. Not that police have a reputation for following protocol, but one concern in this case is their failure to call a dispersal order before making the mass arrest. According to their Standard Operating Procedure, they are legally required to issue a dispersal order before making any arrests. They attempted to claim that the sound of sirens and using pepper spray to displace the oxygen out of the greater D.C. area counts as a dispersal order. Even according to their own rules, logic aside, that is simply not true.

A very rough and incomplete J20 Defense Timeline                           

On November 29th 2017, ten months and nine days after 230 protesters and bystanders were kettled by militarized police, court proceedings for the first group of J20 defendants finally went underway.

-November 29, 2017

Washington, DC – In the courtroom of Judge Lynn Leibovitz, DC Superior Court, proceedings are underway for the first trial group of those mass-arrested during Trump’s inauguration protests. The individuals who were rounded up indiscriminately by police using a crowd-control tactic known as “kettling”, are now spending their days in front of a jury.

This is a clear example of what a police kettle looks like. This took place in 2010 at the G20 protests in Toronto.
The J20 kettle at 12th & L streets

In a trial expected to last many weeks, Assistant US Attorneys Jennifer Kerkhoff and Rizwan Qureshi are testing the viability of their radical guilt-by-association case on the first six defendants, who have insisted on their sixth amendment right to a speedy trial.

[via Unicorn Riot]

-December 3, 2017

    To absolutely no one’s surprise, the world finds out that the police commander behind the J20 arrests is a racist homophobe.

[via Unicorn Riot]

-December 21, 2017

    Jury Finds Six #J20 Defendants “Not Guilty” on All Charges

A jury in D.C. has found six J20 defendants not guilty on all charges, a major defeat for federal prosecutors in the first full trial. 188 individuals still face trial for participating in the inauguration-day protests against Trump in Washington, D.C. So far, 42 of the protest-related charges have been rejected at jury trial.

    And on January 18, 2018, two days before the anniversary of J20, the watching world awoke to this lovely headline:

US Attorney Drops 129 Trump Inauguration Protest Cases, 59 Still Face Decades In Prison  [https://www.unicornriot.ninja/2018/us-attorney-drops-129-trump-inauguration-protest-cases-59-still-face-decades-in-prison/]


On January 20th 2018, we gathered together, looked back on the previous year and said silently to ourselves “holy fucking shit, that was insane” and asked each other, out loud, “what do we do now?” Some of us have been arrested and imprisoned. We’ve been threatened by cop-sanctioned right-wing paramilitary LARPers. We know the violence of the state by the denial of basic human necessities to the women incarcerated at Franklin County Correctional Center. We know the violence of the state by the senseless beating and harassment by police of people of color in our community. We know it by murders perpetrated by the police in our own front yards. And we know it by the pain and precariousness – the day to day grind, whether employed or unemployed – of finding enough food to eat, clean clothes to wear, a warm bed to sleep in, and the peace of mind that the next day will come and we will still have the ability to fight.

But just as some of us have been arrested, we’ve bailed each other out. Just as we have been threatened and attacked, we have defended each other and pushed back. We have confronted the forces that treat our incarcerated sisters and brothers as less than human. We have fed each other, clothed and housed each other. We have taught each other and entertained one another. We have been there for each other.

Even while we have been tired, confused, beaten and bloodied, while we have fucked up and gotten angry at each other, we have been building something beautiful that exists without the state and without capitalism that can provide for us all, and I am extremely proud of all of us.

Missouri Cops, High Speed Chase, Death, Destruction

Seeking assistance from anyone who can help a disabled Jackson County, Missouri woman with damages after an Independence cop initiates a high speed chase through a residential area on a curve without a guard rail. If you know any way to help this person recover these damages, please let us know at greaterkciww@gmail.com They do not have money for a lawyer and the Jackson County Court refuses to let them sue the city without a lawyer. The person whose father was killed was able to get a lawyer. The home that was hit has been repaired and the state has reimbursed them for damages, however the car that was totaled is still just sitting there. See below for videos and victim testimony.

“On Monday August 7th, 2017, at around 11am I woke up to police sirens. I looked outside and saw that an Independence cop car with the license place number 4028 had totaled my parked 2006 Hyundai Elantra and crashed into my neighbor’s home and a person appeared to be dying on my neighbor’s lawn. There were cops everywhere. I tried telling 2 or 3 of them that the totaled car was mine but they apparently could not hear me or respond to me. My partner was filming the incident and we were told to leave, get far away and plan to stay gone for 12 hours. I went back in and got dressed to leave. On the way out I asked another cop if I could file a report or something and was told not to worry about it, it would get worked out in court. We left as we were told.”

“Later that afternoon we went to the Independence police department and I asked to file a report or make a witness statement. They refused to document anything I said and when I asked for a form to fill out, they told me they do not use forms. The clerk finally sent a cop to talk to me. I told him what I knew had happened and he said, “That’s not what happened at all”. He also refused to document anything I said. He told me that my neighbors Kristin and Roberto had been allowed to file a report. He gave me their report number 17-55981, refused to tell me if my car was mentioned in the report, and told me to check back in 10 weeks. His cop number is 1444.”

“I called State Farm, the company that manages my insurance and since I only had liability coverage, they will not help. One of the representatives I talked at State Farm also said that it is ok for police to initiate high speed chases in residential areas and also to leave their police cars unattended with the door open, keys in, and car running so she thought I should just accept my loss and not try to file any statements or reports. I was given a claim number 251017S45.”

“Between Wednesday the 9th and Thursday the 10th, we stopped by an auto body shop and the police department again, got my car towed off my neighbor’s lawn, and someone came to assess my car: Johnson Auto Body is the local shop that sent someone by to document the damage and they will be providing me with a formal statement on or around August 24th, 2017. State Farm allowed me one free tow on my insurance so I asked them to tow my car off of my neighbor’s lawn and leave it in front of my home, which they did. The second visit to the police department went almost exactly the same as the first visit. They refused to document any of my statements, refused to let me file a witness statement regarding seeing a man who had been shot and was bleeding out on my neighbor’s lawn, and refused to let me file a report. The only difference was this time was that it was done by a detective who had been working on it rather than just a street cop. When we started talking, he initially did not know why I did not answer the door when he came to get my statement. He said that they went door to door to get everyone’s statements and when I said I wasn’t there because they evacuated me, he corrected his story and said, “oh that’s right when we went door to door, no one gave statements because we evacuated everyone”. I told him what I knew had happened and he said, “That’s not what happened at all”. He did not document my statement at all and did not let me file any sort of report. He said he would call me later to make a report. As of Wednesday, August 16th, he has not called me. Also as of this date, I have no reason to believe that my car was reported as damaged by the Independence police after they initiated a high speed chase through a residential area and left their car unattended and running with the keys in the ignition.”

“Throughout the course of this disaster I have talked to numerous neighbors about what they saw and heard and based on putting everyone’s accounts together and logical deduction, I believe that on August 7th, 2017, a citizen, Christopher Sales, engaged in a minor traffic infraction at an intersection. An Independence police officer who was responsible for the Independence, Missouri cop car with license plate number 4028 initiated a high speed chase through a residential area. Mr Sales hit a fence while fleeing and his vehicle was stopped. The cop yelled at him to get out of the car and within a very short time shot at Mr. Sales. Mr. Sales then fleeing for his life got into the unattended Independence, Missouri cop car which had the keys in it and the motor running and tried to escape. Mr. Sales then crashed into my car, totaling it, and crashed into my neighbor’s home destroying their porch, yard furniture, and nearly killing their grandbaby. Police then shot Mr Sales again in my neighbor’s yard. Police at the scene refused to take a witness statement from me. Police at the scene after the accident had been cleaned up refused to take a statement from me. Police at the police department refused to take a statement from me. A detective at the police department refused to take a statement from me.”

“I swear these statements are 100% true to the best of my knowledge”

Kansas City Police Accountability Council (KCPAC)

If you have video of police brutality in the Greater Kansas City area, we can put your video up online to raise awareness of how widespread police brutality is in our town and we can try to help gather information and evidence to support you. We can post your videos anonymously for your protection if you prefer. If you do not have any video but want to give your personal testimony about police violence, we can work with you on that too. Please contact us at greaterkciww@gmail.com

Please note, police are not allowed in the IWW. The IWW Constitution states “No Law Enforcement Officer (LEO), certified by the government to enforce the law, and no Prison Guard, whether employed by the government or a private company, shall be a member of the IWW, and any member who becomes such shall be expelled.” For more information about our labor union, please visit https://www.iww.org

Police Violence in Kansas City

The video of cops beating a woman in Kansas City which was featured on SubMedia is just one example of many instances of police violence in Kansas City. If you have video or audio of police violence, we can put your video online anonymously for you. Also, even if you don’t have video, but you want to give your account of police violence in Kansas City, please contact us at greaterkciww@gmail.com

Please let us know if you know who these cops are or who the victim is or if you have any other information about this incident. This occurred on the 3800 block of Central Street, behind the Walgreens at 39th and Broadway at 7:59pm on September 30th, 2017.

This violent act occurred on September 30, 2017 at 7:59 PM

Please note, police are not allowed in the IWW. The IWW Constitution states “No Law Enforcement Officer (LEO), certified by the government to enforce the law, and no Prison Guard, whether employed by the government or a private company, shall be a member of the IWW, and any member who becomes such shall be expelled.” For more information about our labor union, please visit https://www.iww.org

Phone Zap: Franklin County Detention Center

Franklin County Detention Center – Kansas

Phone Zap: November 27th



Detainees housed in the women’s section of the Franklin County Detention Center are being denied undergarments and feminine hygiene products. Detainees face public ridicule when asking for these necessary items. Nobody should have to jump through hoops, face illness, or be humiliated because they cannot easily or privately access pads or tampons. Requiring inmates to pay for these items is nothing short of denying access to basic necessities to those inmates that cannot afford them. The women in your jail should be afforded some basic human dignity and should not be put in a position in which their health is jeopardized.

305 South Main
Ottowa, KS 66067
Phone: 785-229-1220
Email: sheriffsoffice@franklincoks.org

Blaine Finch
Capitol Office
Room: 167-W
Seat: 92
Phone: 785-296-7655
Email: blaine.finch@house.ks.gov

Home Information
5 SW Fairview Dr.
Ottawa, KS 66067
Phone: 785-242-3343
Fax: 785-242-3058
Email: blainefinch@gmail.com

Kansas City August 19th Reportback

“Millions for Prisoners”struggle hits Missouri

On Saturday, August 19, 50-100 people gathered in Kanas City to participate in the national “Millions for Prisoners’ Human Rights” rally against prison slavery and suffering, called by Jailhouse Lawyers Speaks and the IamWE Prison Advocacy Network. Alison, of the KC Greens, writes:

The #KCMillions4Prisoners march on Saturday, August 19th was organized by prisoner reformers & abolitionists, socialists, communists, & anarchists.

Several groups were present including Missouri CURE, Northeast Kansas John Brown Gun Club, One Struggle KC, Kansas City Food Not Bombs, Progressive Youth Organization – KC, Serve The People – Kansas City, ACLU of Missouri. Kansas City Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the IWW, Mothers of Incarcerated Sons and Daughters, SOS Squad of Siblings the Green Party of Kansas City, Missouri, and more

We marched to the the Jackson County Correctional Center, one stop on our tour. The prisoners inside knew that we would be coming. The marchers announced their arrival with a blow-horn, supported by drummers and chanting outside, The people inside reciprocated – they banged on the windows and made little signs with messages like “help” and “I love you” for us to read.

We ended the tour with a memorial service for those killed during the Attica rebellion and those killed by the police in MO and KS over the last two years.

The 3%s (a white supremacist group) were there too with weapons. We marched and they followed, chatting occasionally with the police who were there. This is the second time Green Party members have reported armed right wing militia at a protest in KC. The first time they came with arms was on June 10 with Act for America this summer. They are planning another gathering on September 9.

With all of the calls to tear down symbols of the confederacy, marchers were challenged to continue the movement and tear down all of the monuments build to uphold white supremacy – including the prison industrial complex.

Millions For Prisoners: A Day of Action with the Incarcerated (Press Release)

Millions For Prisoners: A Day of Action with the Incarcerated

August 19, 2017

Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee

The Call Has Been Issued

In Kansas City We Respond.

American slave labor is alive behind prison walls. This labor is the end result of a carceral state that entraps the poor, african american and latinx communities at an exponentially higher rate than others. It is extortionist, legally codified white supremacy in service to American Capitalism’s basest exploitation.

Last year, September 9th, marked the beginning of the “nationwide prison strike,” which catalyzed a wave of organizing, locally and nationally. We now have a level of national organization and communication that has not been seen before. On August 19 Jailhouse Lawyers Speak call for a day of action in solidarity with the incarcerated. Building this grassroots effort, initiated by JLS and by IWW members in prison, are the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, Free Alabama Movement, Free Ohio Movement, George Jackson University, New Abolitionist Movement, and many more. We stand together with those in prisons across the country.

Join The Millions for Prisoner March Here in K.C.

On August 19th From 5:30PM -8:30PM

At Ilus W. Davis Park, Downtown Between Locust and Oak on East 11th Street

Directory of Resources for Ex-Prisoners

This is intended to be a directory of resources for people who have been released from prison. This directory will change as resources are added and changed over time.

We will not be updating this page. Please go to https://www.prisonactivist.org/. They are awesome and have tons of regularly updated information for prisoners, ex-prisoners, and prison activists.

1. Social Security Administration

gives unemployed people $600.00/month (single) or $900.00 (married), and gives ex-prisoners $930.00 once, and only if you go to their office within 48 hours of getting out of prison. But you must take and show them your prison release papers & last two 2 months prison time sheets to get $930.00 check
– Address:
3100 Smith, Houston, Texas 7706
– phone:
tel: +1-1-800-772-1213
– web:
http://www.ssa.gov/ssi or http://www.ssa.gov

2. Emergency foodstamps

$150.00 at office visit and $110.00 per month per person:
– phone:
– web:

3. 20-40% discount utility bills (air, heat, water, electicity!) + 5% extra senior citizens discount.
  • phone:
  • web:
4. 100% free government-provided children’s health insurance for children age 16 and under by Congress all towns [So your job can’t charge you for your kid’s insurance] & [It ain’t wellfare dept.] says:
  • phone:
    tel:1-800-KIDS-NOW (tel:1-800-4326-558)
  • web:
5. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • address
    451 7th Street SW Washington, D.C. 20410
  • phone:
    tel: 202-708-1112
  • web:
6. Mental health services
  • web:
7. Free or discount medicine(s)/prescription(s)
  • phone: tel:1-800-788-6417

  • web:

8. Volunteers of America
  • web:
    http://www.seniorcorps.org (pays $200 cash / month to volunteers)
9. Free Dentists at:
  • web:
10. Free Accredited Colleges courses at:
  • web:

  • 750+ Free Online Courses from the Best Colleges

11. Jobs that pay before you start work:
  • web:
  • gives up to $4,000 grant money to pay student to pay cost of living/bills
  • gives up to $20,000 to $30,000 grant money for student to fellowship at schools in “U.S.A.” & abroad
12. U.S.A. Small Business Administration

loans ex-prisoners $150,000 up to $$1,000,000 for up to 10 years to repay total to open a business in the US.
– Address:
4300 Amon Carter Blvd. Suite #114, Fort Worh, TX 77074
– phone:
tel: (817)684-5500
tel: (817)355-1933
tel: (713)773-6500
– web:

Pre-Reading for 2017 IWW Skill Share: Black Autonomy Federation: Let’s Organize the Hood!

Black Autonomy Federation

(PDF version) poor people survival

Black Autonomy Federation: Let’s Organize the Hood!

Black Autonomy Federation: Let’s Organize the Hood!
By: Black Autonomy Federation

Originally Published on June 9, 2013

Let’s Organize the ‘Hood: Inner City Organizing Projects.

By word or deed, we are being told that revolution is not possible, that we must accept whatever crumbs the white power structure gives us, or that we must join the power elite ourselves. Indeed, both the Left and large segments of the Black nationalist movements are joining the white government by becoming Mayors, U.S. Congressmen, and local politicians who work through the system for reforms. These “radical politicians” tell us that there is no longer any reason to struggle in the streets, that in fact we now can have power under the system itself. That their elections ensure that we are on the road to revolution.

Yet, even after the election of tens of thousands of Black and POC politicians since the 1964 Voting Rights Act, the inner city poor are still desperately poor, there is still substandard housing, police brutality is worse, and the quality of life for millions, even the Black middle class, is eroding. Poverty is at 25% and unemployment is rising in our communities to over 15%, even though it may be improving for the white middle class. Now there is mass imprisonment of millions and tens of thousands have been killed by the police just since the end of the Black Power era (1965-1975). So, in such an environment, running for political office is clearly mis-leadership, if not outright treachery. We will not get free under this system, and we must continue to organize for our survival and liberation. No politician can give you your freedom, even the President, you must take it!

We must rebuild inner city neighborhoods as a community survival program, even while we work to fight racism and capitalism, along with internal colonialism. We need to build a new society, but until then we need to organize and empower poor folks living in deteriorating inner city communities to rebuild substandard housing and create jobs, food and housing cooperatives. Capitalism is a social system with inherent economic inequalities. Not only do the poor pay more for basic amenities, but also they are made the scapegoat of this corrupt system. They are called a “criminal underclass”, “layabouts,” “welfare queens” and other garbage by the rich and their ideological agents; even part of the Black working class echoes this propaganda. Then after they have told their lies, the rich fashion new laws to ensure their unjust rule by starving, humiliating, killing, imprisoning, torturing, policing and otherwise keeping the pressure to survive on the poor themselves.

First, we must recognize that we need a new way of confronting our oppressed situation. How do we get started at this?

This period of widespread social repression is extremely dangerous: one of every three young Black men and almost 60 percent of all female prison inmates are in the so-called “American criminal justice system” (prison, jail, or on parole), high unemployment and social disinvestments are destroying the economic base of many inner city neighborhoods; chemical warfare (drugs) is being used to destabilize our communities and keep us from fighting back; and an epidemic of police violence takes place each day to beat, kill and torture Black men, woman and children and to intimidate the community into fearing white authority—all these and worse are the daily life experiences of poor Black people under this system.

The Poor People’s Survival Movement, (part of a broader program called “Let’s Organize The Hood”), which was first devised by the Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers, is what is needed in this period for poor and working class Black people. With it as a component part of our Anarchist federation and our political program, we will ultimately build a sociopolitical infrastructure to intervene in every area of Black life: food and housing cooperatives, Black Liberation schools, people’s banks and community mutual aid funds, free medical clinics and hospitals, rodent control and pest extermination programs, cooperative factories, a Black Partisan militia to patrol our communities, the establishment of a Black inter-continental electronic communications network, land and building reclamation projects, public works brigades to rebuild the cities, youth projects, drug clinics, a Black alternate currency and many other programs can be made possible with a mass supported Poor Peoples’ Survival Movement, because it can potentially mobilize millions of our people around specific obtainable objectives, instead of pie in the sky rhetoric by national leaders.

All of these programs in part can satisfy the deep social needs of the Black community, but they are not solutions to our problems, because although we can build a survival economy now, we have to realize it will take a social revolution to overthrow capitalism and obtain full economic self-sufficiency. We will have to fight to obtain full freedom. For instance, we will have to demand money for rebuilding the cities at community and government expense. We will create community public works brigades to rebuild inner city areas, made up of community residents.

One way to raise money for such a project is to demand an end to taxes of workers and the poor, increased taxation of rich and major corporations to finance our social programs.

Even though that would be part of a mass program for the poor, the reality is that this will not happen right away. We just have to build a mass membership group to represent the poor and serve as their organization. Small amounts of donations and other fundraising can serve as the seed money. But then what?

We must begin to go into the poorest, most economically depressed Black and ethnic neighborhoods and not just begin to define the problems, but to feed, clothe and even house people to the limits of our resources, in other ways, build survival collectives as the grassroots basis of the PPSM. This means starting food co-ops, doing insurrectionary squatting to reclaim buildings for community cultural centers and for housing the poor and homeless, building local coalitions against police brutality, starting an underground newspaper or other grassroots media.

This also means that we must join with the people to fight their slumlords, local governments, unemployment and welfare offices, their employers and other exploiters who fleece and oppress the working poor. The particular neighborhood, the city and the region, means that the nature of the struggle in different parts of the country will be different, but what I want to emphasize is we must start out with a perspective from day one to be part of the people, on the very scale of their problems, instead of a middle class “revolutionary study society” like most Left wing and Black nationalist formations are today.

Working out a strategy and tactics that can realistically hasten a revolutionary showdown means it is necessary first to understand where the Black liberation struggle actually stands today. What stage is it in? The truth is that it is in a reactionary period, where opportunist national leaders and politicians still have a hold on the minds of the people. At best we can say that our revolutionary forces are a rebuilding stage and once this is understood, the solutions begin to fall in place for all its problems. Our task is to create a movement that will bring into the struggle large numbers of the most despised sectors of the Black working class.

In truth, before we can build an effective revolutionary movement, we must rebuild the foundations of a mass movement of the urban Black poor and their non-white allies in the barrios, reservations, prisons, ghettos and other poverty pits. This in turn has the effect of throwing other class sectors into battle; students, industrial workers, clerical workers, the unemployed generally and we can even split the white working class. This process actually started in the 1960s in the wake of the civil rights/Black Power and other ethnic liberation movements, but the conservatives have seized the agenda in recent years.

If we can mobilize the Black poor in the urban ghettos as a force against capitalist reaction and the mis-leadership of the Negrosie, we become a serious movement at an early stage of our organizational development. Otherwise, we get sucked into the trap of ‘navel gazing”, issuing grand proclamations, and manifestoes and so on that nobody pays attention to but group members. So the task is to clearly link struggles for the pressing immediate needs of Black people with the revolutionary goal of overturning the whole racist system.

That is why the ideas of the PPSM assume such great importance today. The solution lies in formulating and fighting for a program that can help transform the general discontent and militancy of the urban Black masses into an organized, cohesive, consciously revolutionary force. By presenting and fighting for such a program, a small movement can transform itself into an influential power among the masses of people. Although it is not possible to give an “operating manual” for how to organize the PPSM in each city, here is a simple way to look at it: the main strategic and tactical demand is for Black control of the Black community, (leading to a large scale social revolution in the future). This is nothing new, others have written about it and the demand for Black control has been raised spontaneously in thousands of struggles around the U.S. over the last 50 years. It is obviously a demand that speaks directly to the needs and present understanding of Black people: they want an end to white domination and control over their lives.

At the same time, the struggle for Black control is profoundly revolutionary, because it poses the question of who will have decision-making power over Black people; will we begin to rule ourselves or continue to be under the white capitalist rulers. The realization of this aim of Black autonomy can build the cities into Black fortresses that will be centers of Black counter-power to the entire white power structure of North America. Our aim has to be to make ourselves ungovernable to the white power structure. Make it impossible for the police to patrol our neighborhood, make it impossible for politicians to assume control on the local level and begin to take over the schools and other government resources and use them for the people. We can’t do as the nationalists do, just advocate for reparations or a future nation-state, or now just running for office and administering cities on behalf of the capitalist state.

As they develop within the Black communities, struggles targeted to win control over specific institutions and agencies can pave the way and prepare increasing numbers of people for the all- inclusive goal of total control of their community and of the existing political system. These partial struggles, carried out around issues such as Black control of neighborhood control of the schools, an end to police brutality, decent hospitals under community control and other issues, can be extremely important because through them encouraging victories can be won. We must realize that most Black people don’t belong to social or civic organizations, except for their church or union. They need to feel that they can now belong to something that can produce tangible victories now.

These victories, even if limited to specific areas and issues at first, can help raise the confidence of the community in its own power and lay the basis for broader future struggles. For instance, the following demands could help to promote this process generally:

End police brutality by replacing police occupation forces with a community controlled Black Partisan militia drawn from residents of the community. This Partisan Militia force would not just do “policing,” but deal with civil defense, fire safety, food distribution, youth training, community military preparedness, military communications and a host of other neighborhood safety issues. It would not be a colonial force, a repressive guard force for the downtown white merchants, or any other tool of the oppressor, it would be a true community defense guard made up of neighborhood residents.

The creation of a Black Partisan Militia, not only for purposes of dealing with our own internal oppression and crimes against the people, but to create conditions for defense of the community against racist cops and politicians, feeding and building houses for the poor, holding community meetings, training the community in military tactics, and patrolling the community.

Black grassroots control of all funds allocated to the Black community and control over all plans for renovating and constructing housing and other communal facilities and improvements. The Black community can only get decent housing, end urban homelessness, start to house families on project waiting lists when it gets access to massive capital.

Only the government and major corporations now have access to such resources, we must fight to win these funds for the people, rather than let the bureaucrats and “community development” poverty pimps decide what they want to do with the money to ‘help’ business people and real estate developers.

Beat back layoffs by the corporations who are cutting jobs, running to low wage areas of the world, by fighting budget cuts by politicians and rich capitalists. We have got to build local movements that educate the people to these economic crimes and mobilize them to fight back and stop it. We need to sit-in at the offices of corporation meetings, government hearings and other functions to disrupt local life and be willing to take any other action necessary to win our demands.

We should establish Black community General Assemblies to create dual power and start to make policy decisions and administer the affairs of the Black community. These assemblies should be composed of representatives elected by poor and working class Black people in various community institutions: such as hospitals, welfare centers, libraries, factories — as well as delegates elected on a block basis. They would then be federated into a local Community-wide Assembly for citywide or regional coordination. This would be the beginning of building dual power institutions to challenge and dismantle the government itself.

Educate, agitate and organize the Black community around the issues of the prisons and the mass lockup of Black youth. Show how police brutality, homelessness, poverty, unemployment and the drug economy are brought on by the exploitative system of capitalism is what’s causing the problems in our community. We must certainly down the idea that police and prisons exist in any way keep the Black community safe, or that the police are there to protect us from a criminal class of poor people. We need to show that this government is willing to spend more money to put our kids in prison than send them to college and that we are being confined at a rate ten times that of whites. We must create a mass coalition around this issue, which includes other peoples of color and progressives.

Establish a Black community controlled food system for self-sufficiency and as a way of fighting to end hunger and malnutrition, including a cooperative trucking network, food warehouses, communal farms, farmers’ cooperatives and agricultural unions, inner-city food cooperatives and neighborhood unions and other collective associations. However, this will also include a mass protest campaign challenging the theft of Black farmland by agribusiness corporations and rich white “land barons’ and reclaiming it for our projects This is especially important now that the U.S. government has entered an economic crisis during which it will not longer be able to provide for our needs. We must force the government and the corporations to provide the money for many of these projects, to be administered under our total control.

We must mobilize poor people to be a potent class force in this country and disrupt the system until our demands are met. We are not sectarian or vanguardist, and we may need to join with any authentic organization fighting for the poor to build a mass campaign, whether it’s the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Kensington Welfare Rights Organization, or the countless Black grassroots anti-poverty groups in every city and state, but the main thing is that we must build our own.

We must have an independent self-sustaining survival economy to guarantee full employment to our people, even while we fight the racist and exploitative government and its corporate backers. We demand that the government provide massive economic aid to rebuild the cities, under the control of the people of those communities and we will create public works and building brigades out of the inhabitants of the community. Ghetto housing has to be rebuilt and turned over to the occupants.

Adequate jobs and services must be provided to all community residents, including first preference for all construction jobs in the Black community, instead of the racist job trust system of white-dominated labor unions. We have to unite with progressive unions, poor people’s movements and others to build a broad coalition, but we have to push it beyond reformism and conventional politics. We have to demand reparations for the poor who have been ignored by the government and its rich backers, as well as the middle class Black nationalists.

As we have pointed out, being the victims of extreme inequality in the economy, Black and non-white workers have already begun to organize caucuses in the unions against discrimination against racist hiring and firing and also demanding upgrading and promotions. Also because of high unemployment in their communities and general poverty, they have had to create movements to demand basic services for the poor and homeless instead of on the job issues alone. History has proven that the government will not respond to either workers or the poor until they organize to demand a change and disrupt the system. That is certainly the case where a Black President ignores the distressing conditions of the Black community.

We need only to look at the severity of the problem: In the first six months of 2011, the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of labor Statistics listed official unemployment rates at just over 10 percent of the labor force, in the Black community it is 15-25% +. Under Capitalism, since the 1960’s, half that 10% figure is “normal” and nonsensically considered by Capitalist economists as “full employment” even though this is millions of people consigned to economic poverty of the worst sort. But the government figures are intentionally conservative and do not include those millions who have given up actively searching for jobs, the under-employed (who can’t make enough to live on), the part-time workers (who can’t find a full time or steady job) and the homeless (now between 4-5 million alone).

Of the millions of people that the government does count as jobless now, only about 5-7 million are now given any unemployment compensation or other federal or state aid; the rest are left to starve, steal or hustle for their survival, and many who are receiving benefits face the prospect of having them cut off at any time, due to government austerity policies.

A person without a job under the Capitalist system is counted as nothing. Yet, every worker has the human right to a job or an income benefit. It is only under Capitalism where workers are dismissed form employment in times of business crisis, overproduction, and depression or just to save labor costs through less workers and more speed-up. And some workers cannot find jobs in the Capitalist labor market because of lack of skills, or racial and other social discrimination.

But the government’s official figures lie; private researchers state that the total number of people who want full time jobs and thus cannot find them, along with the officials statistics amounts to nearly 17.3 million persons, an even truer figure is 20 million unemployed people in the USA at this time. Clearly then this is a crisis situation of broad proportions, but all the government is doing is juggling and hiding figures. Yet the figures do show that Blacks, Latinos and women are bearing the brunt of the current depression The National Urban League in its “Hidden Unemployment Index” (included as part of its annual “State of Black America” report) reports levels of almost 17 percent for Black adults 25 and older and incredible levels of 25-30 percent for Black teens and young adults 17-24 years of age. In fact, Black youth unemployment has not declined much since the 1974-1975 recession.

It has stayed at an official level of 15-20 percent, but in some inner city neighborhoods of the major cities like Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the real unemployment rate for young people is more like 30-40 percent. For Black youth the unemployment rate is at least two to three times higher than that of white youth. Capitalism is making economic exiles of Black people as a whole. In fact, some researchers report that there are almost 2 million homeless youth, most of them Black and Latino. Conditions in the inner city are destabilizing whole neighborhoods and cities.
According to economic researchers, while making up 12-15 percent of the total population, Black America represents nearly 40 percent of the United States of America’s poorest population.

The fact is that unemployment is concentrated in the Black and Latino communities and is greatly responsible for the most destructive tendencies in human relations and deteriorating neighborhoods. Crime, prostitution, suicide, drug addiction, gang fighting, mental illness, alcoholism and the break-up of Black families and other social ills are rooted in the lack of jobs and the denial of essential social services in their communities. Since so many die in the streets or in prison, it is actually racial genocide in the form of social neglect.

Unemployment is profitable for the bosses because it drives down the wages of all workers and helps the employers to keep the workforce under control through this “reserve army of labor,” which are allegedly always ready to scab, according to union bureaucrats. Because of pervasive discrimination against Blacks, Latinos and other nationally oppressed workers, including higher levels of unemployment, the jobs they do get are generally on the bottom rung. This is also profitable for the boss and divides the working class to their benefit.

Homelessness is just the most intensified form of unemployment, where in addition to loss of jobs or income, there is loss of housing and lack of access to social services. There are now millions of people who are or have been homeless over the last 15-25 years, because of the deindustrialization of the economy, the Capitalist and government offensive to destroy the unions, to beat back the gains of the civil rights struggle and do away with the affordable housing sector in favor of yuppie gentrification in the cities.

You see the homeless sleeping on the streets in cities, big and small and what this reflects is a total breakdown in the Capitalist State’s social services system, in addition to the absolute economic inequality is American society. This heating up of the class war waged by government and the major corporations shows, more than anything, that Capitalism worldwide is undergoing an international financial panic and is really in the beginning stages of a world depression.

Add to the 90 million persons who live below the poverty line and three to five million homeless in the U.S., another 3-5 million homeless in the 12 nations of the European community, along with some 80 million people living in poverty there, with millions more in the Capitalist countries of Japan, Korea and other parts of Asia barely surviving and this can only be accurately called a depression. This is on top of millions more in the Third World because of poverty, the legality of colonialism and unequal trade by the rich countries and financial institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization.

So although Black workers must organize and fight homeless and unemployment in the U.S., clearly there must be an international movement of workers and poor people to fight this economic deprivation, as part of the overall class struggle. It’s not enough to depend on the relatively privileged unions or the middle class civil rights organizations alone.

In every city in North America, the Black and POC poor communities should organize poor peoples’ organizations to fight for unemployment benefits and jobs for the jobless, the building of decent, affordable low-income housing and an end to homelessness, a universal living wage, as well as against racial discrimination in jobs and housing. Such groups would be democratic organizations, organized on a neighborhood basis, (to ensure that it would be under the control of the people and against infiltration and takeover by liberal or “radical” political parties, or co-optation by the government), which would be federated into a citywide, regional and national organization.

This is what the Poor People’s Survival Movement is designed to do.It would be that mass organization that would become a national Black unemployment league to create a mass fight back movement in this depression. It would be made up of poor peoples community-based groups from all over the country, with delegates elected from all the local groups. Such a national organization could meet to map out a large-scale attack on unemployment, as well as serve as a national clearinghouse on Black unemployment conditions.

On the local level in the Black and poor neighborhoods, Poor People Survival Movement would create the local community unemployment organizations which would establish food and housing cooperatives, lead rent strikes and squatting, initiate land and building reclamation projects, establish producer and consumer cooperatives, distribute food and clothing and provide for other services: they would establish neighborhood medical clinics for free treatment of the homeless and unemployed, rodent control programs, etc. and they would deal with community social problems ( brought on by unemployment ) and other issues of interest They would build hunger marches and other demonstrations and carry the people’s wrath to various government offices and to the businesses of the rich.

Not only would the unemployment councils be a way of fighting for jobs and unemployment benefits, but also the local groups would be a way to a obtain community self-sufficiency and direct democracy, instead of depending on city hall, Congress or the President. This radical self-reliance organizing helps lead to the kind of confidence among the masses that makes a Black municipal commune a serious possibility.Politicians speak down to the people, the PPSM carries the voice of the people upward with the demands of the people, and then the organization can fight for it.
One of the most important functions of an unemployment movement is to obtain unity between the employed and unemployed or homeless, and workers solidarity across race lines.

It is important that although we are talking about uniting the poor generally, that we want to be sure that our own Black communities, suffering more than anybody, are in the lead. We will not accept arguments that the Black poor or homeless folks should follow behind white middle class radicals, who have never been poor a day in their lives. We want unity, but not exploitation of our people, as has happened too many times in the past by so-called white radicals claiming to organize Black people.

Finally, the employed and unemployed must work together to struggle against the Boss class if they are to obtain any serious gains against low wages and poverty during this period of economic crisis. The unemployed, who would even walk the picket lines with workers and refuse to scab just to get a job, could support workers who are on strike or protesting the boss. In turn, workers would form an unemployed caucus in their trade unions to allow union representation of these workers and also force such unions to provide food and other necessities, make funds and training available to the unemployed, as well as throw the weight of the unions into the fight for decent jobs and housing for all workers. The Capitalist bosses will not be moved otherwise. MAKE THE BOSSES PAY FOR THEIR ECONOMIC CRISIS!

Here is what a united movement of workers and homeless must demand:

1. Full employment (zero unemployment) for all workers at union wage.

2. Establishment of a shorter workweek, so that workers would be paid at the rate for 40 hours of work for 20 hours a week on the job, expansion of job sharing so that more can be employed.

3. End homelessness, build and make available decent affordable housing for all. Repeal all loitering, anti-panhandling and other laws against the homeless.

4. End the war budget and use those funds for decent, low-income housing, better schools, hospitals and clinics, libraries, parks and public transportation, and job creation.

5. End racism and sexism in job opportunities and relief benefits.

6. Jobs or a guaranteed income for all.

7. Full federal and state benefits for unemployed workers and their families, including corporate and government funds to pay the bills, rents and debts for any laid off worker and unemployment compensation at 100 percent of regular paid wage, lasting the full length of a worker’s period of unemployment

8. Universal living wage and/or national minimum wage set at prevailing union entry wage, for all working people. Increase the government minimum wage to $15-20 an hour as mandated by the workers themselves.

9. We must demand and take away government and corporate funds by any means necessary to establish a massive non-government public works program to provide jobs (with full union rights and wage scale) to rebuild the inner cities and provide needed social services. The program and its funds should be under the control of committees democratically elected from poor and Black neighborhoods, to avoid “poverty pimps” and rip off job agencies, or government bureaucrats.

10. Free all persons in prison for crimes of economic survival; jail corrupt corporate insider traders, bankers and/or racketeer business people.

These and the demands previously mentioned are merely a survival program and agenda for unemployed workers; the real answer is a social revolution, the elimination of Capitalism and workers’ ownership of the economy and society. This is a vital first step however. There would be no unemployment or social need for wage labor in an Libertarian socialist society. People could live a decent life without exploiting each other and they do not have to have money to receive decent medical care or housing, it is a human right for all.

Building A Memphis Poor People’s Survival Movement

Memphis, TN. was recently called the poorest big city in the nation by the U.S. Census Bureau. It is the ruling elite, with its long history of structural racism, malign neglect, and class oppression of the poor and low income workers, which has created this state of affairs which continues down to this day. As is always the case, it is the Black working class, immigrants, and the elderly that are suffering more than anyone in American society, whether it is unemployment, poverty, mass imprisonment, etc. Even with a so-called “recovery” from a depression or deep business recession, we can be sure that poor communities will remain poor and powerless. This is long-term economic apartheid, racial and economic segregation of Black people/POC, which has made our communities into a beggar class. Now, the rich ruling class is threatening to extend this same kind of impoverishment of the Black workers and poor to even more people, not just to “destroy the middle class”, but to create an economic dictatorship where only the rich will have financial resources, and social program money that would go to the working and poor people will be transferred directly to the rich class. This would be an outright corporate fascist state, where only those who own corporate and the means of production will have any rights.

“Government Austerity, Sequestration…corporate downsizing…”whatever we call it, this is now the greatest threat to the economic security of both poor and working peoples in this country. It is being unleashed right now by the Capitalist state and its government flunkies, on a scale greater than anything seen since the period before the Great Depression of the 1930’s. It threatens to plunge the people of the USA into the deepest poverty since before the even the “New Deal Policies” of the Roosevelt government that arose during the Great Depression to afford the people some relief, and produce Social Security as one of its lasting programs. The rich did not give in to creation of the program, it took a long fight by poor people’s movements to enact Social Security and all the social programs which followed over the years, and although they are government administered programs, we should find a way to subvert them and use them to make the rich pay for this economic crisis. We realize that some so-called “radical” and Anarchists oppose this posture, but we should not starve people on narrow political principles alone. In fact, we should make the take over these programs from government bureaucrats, put them in the hands of the people themselves to administer, and should make the government convert all its billions of dollars in military spending to provide for the social needs of the people.

Yet, the which radical Occupy Wall Street movement and its local affiliate, Occupy Memphis, which came together over about two years ago, was supposed to be that radical social movement which would take the rich on and defeat them, on behalf of all the people. However, this movement is clearly based on the white middle class, and is hostile to genuine radicals, peoples of color, and more militant political tendencies. It is stifled by its own internal racism and liberal reformism, it simply is not a true revolutionary tendency, even though the Left and even segments of the Black nationalist movement hailed its coming as “true liberation”. Black Autonomy saw through this, and raised serious criticisms, which have now been adopted by many others since the luster has worn off the new movement, and we can see it for what it is.

The Poor Peoples Survival Movement, created by Black Autonomy Federation, is a new radical social movement being organized that has to engage in confrontations with the city and local area governments, as well as with the economic elite, especially FedEX, (the largest employer in the city of Memphis), the Regions Bank and other investment banks, the Chamber of Commerce, and other ruling class institutions, who give orders to the gov’t administration and sets the real economic policies for this city, rather than politicians. Their city budget starves the Black community to death, while ensuring that white middle class area, tourist sites, and businesses are well take care of with corporate welfare and business contracts.

The Poor People’s Survival Movement has to challenge mass unemployment by building an activist unemployment movement of the thousands of out-of-work laborers and homeless in this area; it has to fight for more taxes on the rich and end its one-way class warfare; we have to fight to end taxation of food and the highest state sales taxes in the country, which are clearly socio-economic discrimination; we have to fight austerity measures by the gov’t to make poor and working people pay for this economic crisis by cutting their Social Security benefits and gouging Medicare and Medicaid. We have to challenge the local gov’t and mayor, who have let FedEx and other businesses get by with paying virtually no taxes, and by paying these companies hundreds of millions in corporate welfare. We have to bring a mass coalition of folks together, many of whom have never even been to a demonstration or joined a protest movement in their lives, but who have to protest now for sheer survival of themselves and their families.

Although we obviously will not turn away whites as members, we cannot get hung up with organizing the white middle class, but rather the Black working class and poor, that must be the base of our organizing, the very people who have been ignored by Occupy Memphis, and the Occupy Wall Street movement generally. Since Memphis is a majority Black city, we must put the majority of our efforts in the Black community.

So although we talk in terms of a broad sweep of organizing a people people’s movement, the truth is that you must begin very modestly in our hometowns, or the place where we are located now to create the PPSM. There are very important issues, effecting millions, but we must convince just a few people first, and with these few, we can begin to change the world. Actual poor people, as opposed to white middle class organizers in their name, are the force to change the world. We are suffering greatly in this period, but we are suffering more because we are not organized to resist the rich people and their government who are starving us. So how do we start?

This means that we must build a movement from scratch, and we must do it in a very simple fashion: bring together a small group of activists and connect with the poorest communities. We must build an organization of organizers, and plan our next steps carefully. We have already built a core group, now we must build an organization, educate our members, and then mobilize. We must hold marches, street demonstrations, and protests of our own to challenge the city government and the elite of this city. We need to examine how we can subvert local government and business meetings, whether city council meetings, that of the Mayor, or the Chamber of Commerce, and turn them into a rally for the people. We need to hold mass assemblies in recreation centers, libraries, and at other public locations, as well as at street corners. Our strategy has to be different from OWS’s long-term occupation, which might work in NYC, but does not appear to be the best strategy for Memphis, unless it is at the very offices of these corporations of gov’t officials, not outside on the streets sleeping in tents as the guest of the government.

How should we conduct each meeting of the Poor People’s Survival Movement?

1. We should have one internal strategy meeting, and one grassroots public meeting, each month for the Memphis PPSM. Each meeting should have a specific theme or focus so that we can stay grounded, not lose time to general discussions and endless debates. For, instance, power structure research, how poverty is structured in Memphis, the city budget, and other issues should dominate our discussions. We should argue over how to do it, rather than what we should do.

2. Each meeting should last no more than 2 hours, and after that we should stay in touch by email or phone calls between meetings.

3. Meetings should be held in a public library or other free space as first priority.

4. Each meeting should have a different moderator, who should be at the meeting.

5. We should respect each person’s right to speak.

If we start by holding these public meetings, which are both a study group as well as an action planning meeting, we can build a winning strategy with a variety of tactics. It will not be easy, because we are a new movement and there will be tremendous opposition from the rich and their agents, but if we persevere we will succeed over the long run.

This is only part of the issue, and this is not the entire program, which covers many other areas.poor people survival-2