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Burning Spear News

Uhuru organizer speaks out on why the struggle with Obama 

On Friday, August 1st I led a contingent of the Uhuru Movement into Barack Obama’s town hall meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida to raise the question, “what about the black community, Obama?” Without the benefit of a big media budget, our organization attempted to bring the serious issues experienced by African working class people across this country into the national political debate.

These issues include the targeting of African and Latino communities with predatory “sub-prime” mortgages – a scheme that has made millions for people like Obama’s chief financial advisor Penny Pritzker, while stripping black families of billions of dollars, the greatest loss of wealth our community has suffered since being brought in chains to this country. We also challenged Obama to take a stand against the police shootings of unarmed African people, and explain why he has publicly defended the judge’s acquittal of the NYC police who murdered Sean Bell.

He has said that he cannot speak out on behalf of those who have been historically oppressed for fear of offending other people. Yet in Miami, he promised the Jewish community, which considers itself a historically oppressed community, that he supports turning all of Jerusalem over to Israeli control, despite the internationally enforced sharing of that city with the Palestinians. When Obama speaks to black audiences, he attacks us, attributing our community’s poverty, not to systemic oppression, but to bad culture and lack of work ethic.

Barack Obama has criticized African fathers for abandoning our children, although a recent study showed that black fathers stay more involved with their children after a split from the mother than white fathers. And Obama says nothing of the unjust imprisonment of 1 in 9 black men of child-bearing age, the overwhelming majority of whom are locked up on minor drug or other non-violent economic violations stemming from conditions of desperate poverty. He has failed to achieve any meaningful program of economic development for the African community. In speaking to a group of black legislators, Obama said “a good economic development plan for our community would be if we make sure folks weren’t throwing their garbage out of their cars.”

Barack Obama wants to increase military spending and praised Clinton for abolishing AFDC and welfare. He has reversed his position opposing the death penalty and speaks out against reparations. He wants to escalate the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and has threatened Venezuela and Iran with military aggression. He has upheld the FISA, supporting wire-tapping and government spying on citizens. He receives unprecedented financial backing from Wall Street. His close advisors and potential cabinet members include war criminal Richard Clarke, Tri-lateral commission founder Zbigniev Brzezinski, Madeleine ‘it’s worth the price of 1 million dead Iraqi children’ Albright, and Free Trade advocates Jason Furman and Austan Goolsbee.

Some argue that we must support Obama or else we are supporting McCain. We in the Uhuru Movement don’t believe our community should restrict our political options to a choice between one white ruling class party or another. In fact, the black community’s most recent experiences in the U.S. electoral arena have resulted not only in the Republican Party’s theft of our votes, but prior to that we suffered some of the worst attacks on our community at the hands of the Democratic Party administration of William Jefferson Clinton, who put 100,000 more police on our streets to murder our people, privatized the prisons to exploit our unpaid labor, and discontinued the public subsidies for impoverished children and families that had been won by African people as a concession to our movement of the 1960s.

African people’s experiences with these last several elections and the desperate conditions facing our community have created a willingness by our people to seek independent political alternatives. In response to this crisis, the white rulers put forward Barack Obama – a pied piper taking African people back into clutches of the Democratic Party. If anyone looks seriously at the positions, programs and advisors of Barack Obama, they will see that he does not stand for any kind of real change, but for the defense of the same old status quo, with a new face. America is in an economic crisis and the white ruling class hopes to save itself by deepening the exploitation of African people in the U.S. and on the continent of Africa, where the world’s biggest reserves of oil and precious minerals lie. How better to do it than with an African face at the head of state?

Our success as a people requires that we achieve our own independent political agenda. African people’s votes should be contingent on the willingness of a candidate to support and fight for that agenda. The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement has invited Barack Obama, John McCain and Cynthia McKinney to attend our annual convention on September 27-28 in St. Petersburg, Florida to clarify their position on the question, “what about the black community?’ Based on their response, we will consider endorsement of a U.S. presidential candidate.

Diop Olugbala is the International Organizer for the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement

St. Petersburg police murder another African teen! 

/old_site_images/2008-06/st-petersburg-police-murder-another-african-teen/JavonDawson.jpg alt="Javon Dawson"/> Javon Dawson was 17 years old when killer cop Terrance Nemeth murdered him shooting him twice in the back at a graduation party.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL — On Monday, June 9, Keon Dawson turned 14 years old. While many 14-year-olds might spend their birthdays celebrating, Keon spent his in a demonstration in front of the police department because just two nights before, St. Petersburg police murdered his brother, Javon Dawson.

Javon Dawson was at a graduation party at the Shining Light Masonic Lodge on Saturday night when police shot him in the back. According to witnesses, the 17-year-old had his hands up when he was shot twice in the back.

Witnesses say that when one teen tried to stop the bleeding, the police responded by pepper spraying him. Another teen’s attempt to save Javon’s young life brought on threats by police that he too would be shot.

Not surprisingly though, the State has already begun a campaign of slander and cover-up. They could not pull up any rap sheet — a common tactic used to justify when police murder an African — because he had never had any previous contact with police. In fact, everyone who knew him, including his high school principal, knew him as “a good kid.”

Instead, the police painted a picture that implied that this young African who had never had a run in with police became an instant outlaw that night. They claim that this young African who had never been in any trouble decided tonight that as his first criminal act he would commit suicide by aiming and firing a gun at police so they could kill him.

However, the police story contradicts the accounts of all of the witnesses who say that young Javon didn’t even have a gun. But killer cop Terrance Nemeth did. In fact, the bullets he fired into Javon’s back weren’t his first.

Killer cop Terrance Nemeth is a seasoned killer. This battle-worn, former Marine had just recently returned from Iraq where he received awards for occupying Iraq the same way police occupy the African community in St. Petersburg and throughout the U.S.

In fact, some have questioned whether killer cop Terrance Nemeth was even psychologically prepared to return to “civilian life” in the U.S.

Community responds with outrage

/old_site_images/2008-06/st-petersburg-police-murder-another-african-teen/KeonDawson2Cut.jpg alt="Keon Dawson"/> Keon Dawson spent his 14th birthday in a picket line after police murdered his brother just two nights earlier.

The day after police murdered young Javon Dawson, outraged Africans flooded into the auditorium of the Uhuru House, headquarters of the Uhuru Movement. Frustration was high, and it was clear the African community wanted to stop the police murders and to get justice for this young African.

David Dawson, Javon’s father, was speechless. His mother, Yolanda Baker, was stricken silent with grief. They had lost their son only hours ago and police refused to even let them see him.

Ollie Godfrey, Javon’s stepmother, spoke saying, “This is an injustice in our community because that could have been anybody’s child laying out there that night. They said he was in the hospital. We went to the hospital, and they said that he wasn’t there. We went back out there, and they left him lying out there for four hours like a dog in the streets. We know that the police are going to put it the way they want to to make themselves justified, but it was not justified to shoot somebody in their back. I don’t care what the circumstances were.”

Javon’s little brother, Keon, explained with tears in his eyes how the police threatened to kill him if he tried to help Javon as he lie bleeding to death on the ground. “I saw my brother shaking on the ground, and then I tried to run over there. The police was like, ‘get back, or I’ll shoot you too.’”

“No Justice! No Peace!”

/old_site_images/2008-06/st-petersburg-police-murder-another-african-teen/JavonDemo2.jpeg alt="demonstration"/> The African community demands justice for Javon Dawson and an end to the city of St. Petersburg's attacks on the African community.

A powerful demonstration was held on the morning of Monday, June 9 in front of the St. Petersburg police headquarters. Chants of “Jail the Killer Cops Now!” and “No Justice, No Peace!” could be heard blocks away.

The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), which led the demonstration, released a press statement that said, “InPDUM stands in total opposition to the public policy of police containment being imposed on our community. Police containment is when the police are given an open license to kill, harass, intimidate and arrest us in an effort to keep the African community silenced and docile. This reckless public policy of police containment has resulted in the police murders of young African men, with 17-year-old Javon Dawson being the most recent victim.”

The statement also connected Javon’s murder with police murders of other teens. Javon’s murder is reminiscent of the police murder of 18-year-old TyRon Lewis by the St. Petersburg Police Department in 1996. Then the city recklessly started a rebellion as a result of its vicious policy against the African community.

Immediately after the October 1996 police murder of TyRon Lewis, the Uhuru Movement launched a successful campaign within the African community and entire city that challenged the city’s negative public policy of police containment. As a consequence of our community’s unified demands, the city of St. Petersburg was forced to go eight years without a police killing of a single African person while at the same time giving lip service to the notion of economic development for the African community.

Then, as a process of reinitiating the brutal public policy of police containment while simultaneously trying to hide its hand in it, the city brought in the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department to brutalize the African community. This resulted in the Sheriff’s Department’s murders of 17-year-old Marquell McCullough in May 2004 in a hail of 19 bullets and the murder of Jarrell Walker who was shot in the back three times in April 2005.

Now, eager to carry out its plans to turn St. Petersburg into a different kind of city with no place for its current residents, the city is intensifying its attack on the African community using the St. Petersburg Police Department directly to facilitate its containment and removal.

The city of St. Petersburg has not been able to murder an African without invoking a serious resistance in response. Rebellions erupted following the murders of TyRon Lewis, Marquell McCullough, and Jarrell Walker.

Even now, a powder keg is being created by the government of the city. The reckless public policy that is being guided by violence from the police and the land grabs and gentrification backed by the city government are fueling this powder keg.

In fact, it seems like the city is trying to provoke a rebellion by murdering another African teenager so that it could create an excuse to intensify its brutal assault against the African community.

Community in motion

/old_site_images/2008-06/st-petersburg-police-murder-another-african-teen/Justice4JavonCommitteeCut.jpg alt="committee"/> Four members of the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee at a press conference; Ollie Godfrey, Diop Olugbala, Brenda Dawson and Kimberly Fritts (left to right)

On Wednesday, June 10, a meeting was held at the Uhuru House where the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee was built. Led by Javon’s stepmother Ollie Godfrey as its president, the committee also includes Javon’s cousin, Laketa Dawson, as its secretary; Brenda Dawson, Javon’s aunt, as its fundraiser; and Javon’s cousins Kimberly Fritts and Felicia King as its outreach coordinators. Diop Olugbala, InPDUM’s International Organizer is functioning as the committee’s political action coordinator.

The committee immediately got to work, scheduling a press conference the following morning and holding a candlelight vigil immediately after the meeting at the site where the police murdered Javon Dawson. Africans from throughout the community came raising their candles and pledging to not allow a moment of peace in the city of St. Petersburg until justice is won.

One sister led the crowd in the song “Victory is Mine” exemplifying the committee and the African community’s determination to win the struggle for justice for Javon Dawson and to end the city’s attacks against our community.

Javon’s murder is part of larger plan

The murder of Javon Dawson does not happen in isolation. The public policy of police containment that caused his murder is part of an overall plan to change the face of the city of St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker plans to turn St. Petersburg into a haven for wealthy white people, and this vision of a new city has no place in it for African people or poor people in general.

The razing of an entire African community and African businesses so that the Tropicana Field dome could be built on its ashes was part of this process. This process saw an entire section of the African community historically called the south side because of its proximity to Central Avenue renamed “Midtown” followed by a serious gentrification to extend the downtown area.

This process of creating this new African-free St. Petersburg is being continued now with a plan to build a $500 million dollar waterfront stadium to replace the dome that was built on the ashes of the African community. The city’s plan for economic development comes at the expense of the African community.

Organized resistance is the only way to stop it

The police, which function as an occupying army in the African community, will continue to murder African people as long as there is no consequence. They will continue to kill African people one by one so long as we are unorganized.

The African community must get organized in its own interest to defend itself. It cannot stand by and allow the police to attack our community. Nor can it simply react whenever the police kill or brutalize another one of our children.

What must be understood is that police murder is but a symptom of our fundamental problem, which is the fact that we are not free. African people have not had self-determination — or control over our own lives — since Europe’s attack on Africa that stole us from Africa and Africa from us.

Since that attack, African people have been held under colonial domination in a parasitic relationship for the political, social and economic benefit of the U.S. and Europe. This is why no matter how hard we work or how long we work, our work doesn’t build wealth for us. It builds wealth for the white community.

Africans within U.S. borders are a domestic colony, held within the borders of a colonizing country.

To prevent Africans from trying to free ourselves from this parasitic relationship, there is an organized entity called the State. The State uses brute force to maintain this parasitic relationship. The police who contain our community through violence are part of the State. The courts that justify the violence committed against our people are also part of the State. So are the military and the school systems.

The State is an apparatus whose sole purpose is to maintain the relationship between those who have and those who don’t have because everything that belongs to them has been stolen by those who have. So the solution to our problems is not to just try to stop police violence because it’s only a symptom of our condition.

We have to take power over our own lives, and to do this African people have to be organized. African people in St. Petersburg, Florida and everywhere else around the world where we have been dispersed must join the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, the organization representing the African working class’ demand for self-determination.

So any demand for justice for our community must be a demand ultimately for power over our own lives. It must be a demand for State power.

Only when we are organized to take State power in the hands of the African working class can we end the attacks on African people.

In the case of the murder of Javon Dawson, InPDUM has put forward demands for:

• Reparations now to the families of Javon Dawson, Jarrell Walker, Marquell McCullough and TyRon Lewis!

• Prosecution of the killer cop who murdered Javon Dawson!

• Real economic development, an infusion of millions of dollars of both private and public monies to develop commerce and businesses owned and controlled by African people!

Stand with InPDUM for justice for Javon Dawson!

Join the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee! Call InPDUM at 727-821-6620 or email [email protected].

Jail the Killer Cops!

Reparations to the Family of Javon Dawson!

Self-determination for the African Community!

Imperialist media attacks Venezuelan Prez 

VENEZUELA — In the face of continuing reports about imperialist threats against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan government is revamping its intelligence services amidst a flurry of attacks from imperialist media in response.

Concern over imperialist attack is not unreasonable considering that a CIA-backed coup d’etat temporatily removed Chavez from power only 6 years ago before a massive uprising brought him back to office. U.S. funding of opposition groups in Venezuela is also cause for concern.

It was on May 28 when Chavez announced the intelligence services changes. The country’s Interior and Justice Ministries will oversee a new General Intelligence Office and Counterintelligence Office in place of the current Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP). Similar military intelligence and counterintelligence components will replace the Military Intelligence Division (DIM) and will be under the Defense Ministry.

Both replaced offices DISIP and DIM were created in 1969 in the service of imperialism and have been closely aligned with the CIA. The law calls on Venezuelans to inform the government if they learn of plots to overthrow the government, and gives up to a four-year prison term for accomplices of such plots.

Therein lies the point of attack from imperialist media. They claim that this law is repressive and would turn Venezuela into a nation of spies. The Venezuelan government says that it is instead a defense of Venezuela from U.S. subversion. Justice Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin stated that while U.S. law spies on Americans and denies them legal protection, Venezuela’s law enlists responsible citizen participation in preserving their government. They have a stake in “state security and resolving crimes. If [they] witness [wrongdoing and] hide it, then [they] are an accomplice to that crime.” It’s to make them responsible citizens united for their common self-interest.

While imperialist media have harped on this recent law from the Venezuelan government, it continues to ignore the U.S. violations of its own constitution in the unjust imprisonment of colonized people without trial. There is no uproar in the media around the continued imprisonment of the remaining members of the MOVE 9 from Philadelphia who were all charged with the killing of one police with one bullet that came from the opposite direction of the MOVE members but instead the direction of where other police were standing. They even ignore the double and soon to be triple jeopardy situation of the Liberty City Seven, who after two hung juries unable to convict them of government-fabricated terrorism charges, are to be subjected to more trials until the government can find a jury to convict.

InPDUM fights against anti-African "gang" initiative in York, Pennsylvania 

YORK CITY, Pennsylvania — The York City Branch of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) is preparing to undertake a significant effort to stave off yet another plan of police aggression and containment. Pennsylvania's "222 Corridor Anti-Gang Initiative" is the official name given to the local, state and federal governments' proposed policy of harassment and subjugation.

In June 2006, with a $2.5 million Department of Justice grant already in its coffers, the Office of the United States Attorney determined it would draft a comprehensive plan of containment replete with targeted designer laws and militarized technology and tactics. York City InPDUM is waging a significant propaganda campaign exposing the true nature of this paramilitary escalation targeting six counties and seven cities in South Central Pennsylvania.

Under the pretext of eliminating "gangs", the State seeks to federalize all local police forces within the targeted areas. Electronic surveillance grids are being erected complete with cameras and microphones to intrude on our communities and to allow for electronic file sharing amongst police agencies nationwide. Rehashing failed and protracted strategies in the name of fighting gangs with new and fiercer punishment is the government game plan.

York City InPDUM is on the ground offering the black and oppressed community the true and effective programs of community control of police and economic development for working class Africans. Not mass incarceration, but self-determination.

We recognize that this initiative is intended to strengthen the most violent gang in Pennsylvania — the police. If this were a genuine attempt to crack down on gang activity, they’d begin within the ranks of the police departments who brutalize and kill Africans regularly.

Martial law is on the march in South Central Pennsylvania. York City InPDUM, led by President Ajamu Bandele, is calling on all comrades and branches of InPDUM and other progressive organizations operating within any of the Department of Justice’s "Super-Six" targeted areas throughout the country —Oakland and Los Angeles, California, Cleveland, Ohio, Tampa, Florida, and Dallas, Texas — to join in the resistance against the nationwide Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative.

York City InPDUM has identified the key players. It has interjected in public meetings that were designed to win African people’s support for our own oppression and containment and disseminated InPDUM’s ideology throughout the African community, effectively winning support for community control of police and economic development for the African community.

We've established several outreach posts, defeated local anti-gang ordinances and are waging a major propaganda campaign to help our people understand that this initiative is one that intends to deepen police aggression against our oppressed communities. The State intends to lock up the African community, but we are determined to get free!

Join the struggle against the 222 Corridor Anti-Gang Initiative! Self-determination for the African community!

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