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16 December 2016

For a Class-Struggle Fight for Black Freedom

We Need a Revolutionary Workers Party!

The following speech, edited for publication, was delivered by Spartacist League spokesman Alan Wilde at the Partisan Defense Committee’s 31st annual Holiday Appeal for Class-War Prisoners in New York City on December 2.

The Russian writer Dostoyevsky once wrote: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” By that measure, this is a brutal country run by a barbaric ruling class, whose overflowing prisons are medieval torture chambers. America, whose rulers lecture the world about democracy and human rights, locks up more than two million people in its dungeons—almost a quarter of the world’s prison population. It still has, and uses, the death penalty, which is a legacy of slavery: the lynch rope made legal. Black men and women make up about 40 percent of those in prison and more than 40 percent of those on death row. This is capitalist America, and to think that capitalist America could be otherwise is like thinking that a leopard can change its spots. (read more...)

16 December 2016

Albert Woodfox: Unbowed, Unbroken

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

We print below Albert Woodfox’s speech to the December 2 New York City Holiday Appeal benefit.

All power to the people! It is an honor for me to be here. I want to thank the Partisan Defense Committee and all the comrades who are here in attendance for asking me to come here and speak before you. Given all the wonderful things that have been said by wonderful comrades before me, I feel like a backup dancer right now. (read more...)

16 December 2016

Former Class-War Prisoners Address NYC Holiday Appeal Benefit

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

Some 150 people turned out on December 2 for the Partisan Defense Committee’s 31st annual Holiday Appeal benefit in New York City. This year’s lively benefit included two new guests for the PDC, courageous former class-war prisoners Robert King and Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3. The successful event raised funds for the PDC’s monthly stipend program and holiday gifts to class-war prisoners—not as an act of charity but of solidarity with these victims of racist capitalist injustice. (read more...)

02 December 2016

Solidarity with Class-War Prisoners!

(Quote of the Week)

The Partisan Defense Committee’s annual Holiday Appeal raises funds for its program of sending monthly stipends to class-war prisoners. The PDC’s stipend program revives a tradition of the early American Communist Party’s International Labor Defense. James P. Cannon was the ILD’s first secretary, a Communist Party leader and later the founder of American Trotskyism. In motivating support for those who have been imprisoned for taking the side of the working class and oppressed, he stressed that such support is not charity but an elementary act of solidarity. (read more...)

18 November 2016

31st Annual Holiday Appeal

Free the Class-War Prisoners!

Featured NYC Speakers: Albert Woodfox and Robert King of the Angola 3

“The path to freedom leads through a prison....

“In one sense of the word the whole of capitalist society is a prison. For the great mass of people who do the hard, useful work there is no such word as freedom. They come and go at the order of a few. Their lives are regulated according to the needs and wishes of a few. A censorship is put upon their words and deeds. The fruits of their labor are taken from them. And if, by chance, they have the instinct and spirit to rebel, if they take their place in the vanguard of the fight for justice, the prisons are waiting.”

—James P. Cannon, “The Cause that Passes Through a Prison,” Labor Defender, September 1926

(read more...)

4 November 2016

Defend Standing Rock Activists!

On October 27, police and National Guardsmen brutally attacked some 200 protesters attempting to block construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. Over 140 people were arrested and more than 50 injured as the cops deployed Humvees, armored trucks and a bulldozer to clear a protest encampment and push activists off the land. Police shot protesters with rubber bullets, gassed them with pepper spray and caged some in what activists described as dog kennels. Since August, police have arrested more than 400 people on charges of criminal trespassing, participating in a riot and resisting arrest. We say: Drop all the charges! Hands off the protesters! National Guard out! (read more...)

4 November 2016

South Africa

Free Student Protesters! Cops Off Campus!

OCTOBER 30—South Africa’s neo-apartheid government has ramped up its violent repression against university students fighting for free, quality education for all. Campus strikes and protests roiled South Africa late last year, leading the government to freeze previously announced university fee increases. Mass protests flared up again in September when the higher education minister (and head of the Communist Party), Blade Nzimande, announced that fees would once again be increased. As described by our comrades of Spartacist/South Africa in a September 22 leaflet, the Tripartite Alliance government of the African National Congress (ANC), South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) sent their cops and campus security guards to brutally suppress these protests with clouds of tear gas, hails of rubber bullets and mass arrests (see “Mass Student Protests Demand Free Education Now,” WV No. 1097, 7 October). (read more...)

25 October 2016

Letter to Jacob Zuma

The Partisan Defense Committee condemns the brutal police attacks against South African university students demanding free quality education. Police atrocities under the direction of the Tripartite Alliance government include the arrest of over 500 students, apartheid-era early morning raids on dormitories and homes of sleeping students and the use of tear gas and rubber bullets. (read more...)

7 October 2016

Give Back His Passport!

Drop All Charges Against Edward Snowden!

The release of Oliver Stone’s sympathetic and powerful biopic Snowden has rekindled the national debate over the fate of the courageous NSA leaker. Three years ago, Edward Snowden became Washington’s “Public Enemy Number One” after he turned over to various media outlets a trove of classified documents proving the colossal scale of U.S. government spying and its shredding of basic democratic rights. The target of an intense international manhunt, Snowden was forced into exile in Russia, where he remains on a temporary residence permit. Unable to travel because his passport was revoked, he is still wanted by the Feds on theft and espionage charges. (read more...)

22 September 2016

Hunger Strike Ends

Free Chelsea Manning!

Just two months after being driven to a suicide attempt, imprisoned transgender whistle-blower Chelsea Manning went on hunger strike to protest ongoing abuse and denial of health care in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Manning—who was sentenced in 2013 for disclosing military and state secrets to WikiLeaks—refused all food and beverage and demanded “minimum standards of dignity, respect, and humanity,” including the ability to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Her drastic plea ended after five days on September 13 when the army relented and agreed to allow her to proceed with the surgery. (read more...)

9 September 2016

New Legal Papers Filed

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

In a significant development in the decades-long battle for his freedom, on August 7 attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal filed a new petition under Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA). Mumia’s application seeks to overturn the denial of his three prior PCRA claims by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. If successful, he would be granted a new hearing before that court to argue for reversal of his 1982 frame-up conviction for the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. (read more...)

9 September 2016

Oh Baltimore Blues

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

The following commentary was transcribed from a recording dated August 12.

The brilliant and beautiful Nina Simone in her classic lament, “Baltimore,” sings of a city by the sea, but one that she longs to flee from, because of its hardness and its meanness. (read more...)

9 September 2016

Imprisoned for Spying for Cuba

Free Ana Belén Montes!

For almost 15 years, Ana Belén Montes has languished in a U.S. prison for her active solidarity with the Cuban Revolution. Having been the Pentagon’s number one expert on Cuba since the mid ’80s, Montes pleaded guilty in 2002 to “conspiracy to commit espionage” for the Cuban government. Alleged to have turned over reams of American military and intelligence secrets to the Cuban authorities, including the identities of Washington’s undercover spies, Montes was deemed “one of the most damaging spies” by the U.S. imperialist rulers and gone after with a vengeance. Montes never benefited one penny for passing on classified information. She expressed her motivation during a 2015 interview: “What matters to me is that the Cuban Revolution exists.” It is in the interests of the working class and the oppressed in the U.S. and around the world to demand: Freedom now for Ana Belén Montes! (read more...)

29 July 2016

Freedom Now for Chelsea Manning!

Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst convicted for exposing evidence of U.S. imperialism’s monstrous war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, has now entered her seventh year in military custody. Having leaked a vast cache of military and state secrets to WikiLeaks—a valuable service to humanity—Manning was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years for violating the Espionage Act. The courageous 28-year-old Manning has already endured the most severe punishment ever inflicted on any whistle-blower. The Obama administration’s ruthless, punitive war against truth-tellers like Manning, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange is aimed at silencing any and all who dare expose or oppose the U.S. government’s atrocities and mass surveillance. (read more...)

1 July 2016

Pasadena Black Activist Railroaded

Black Lives Matter Pasadena founder Jasmine Abdullah (Richards) was released on June 18 after spending a month behind bars for speaking out against police violence. In August last year, following a protest against the 2012 police killing of black youth Kendrec McDade, Abdullah was among a group who objected to the arrest of a black woman accused of not paying for a meal at a restaurant. For supposedly interfering in the arrest of a police suspect, Abdullah was charged under California penal code 405, which outlaws “the taking by means of a riot of another person from the lawful custody of a peace officer,” which the law formerly called “lynching.”

As news sources report, Abdullah has now become the first black person to be tried and convicted for “lynching.” Convicted by a jury with no black people, Abdullah, who faced a maximum term of four years in prison, was sentenced to 90 days as well as three years of probation and mandatory attendance at 52 “anger-management” courses! She is the first Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist to receive such a serious sentence for political protest. As her lawyer Nana Gyamfi pointed out, “She was persecuted and jailed because of her political beliefs.” (read more...)

1 July 2016

Free NATO 3 Activist Jared Chase Now!

This past April, the last imprisoned member of the NATO 3, Jared Chase, was sentenced to an additional year in prison on bogus charges of aggravated battery against a guard while he was awaiting trial. This additional time is purely vindictive, especially in light of his serious health problems. Chase has been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a degenerative hereditary neurological condition, as well as hepatitis C. Prison authorities have repeatedly refused to provide him with adequate health care.

In May 2012, the NATO 3 were swept up in a wave of state repression targeting the thousands who were gathering in Chicago to protest a summit meeting of the NATO imperialist military alliance. The summit took place against the backdrop of the U.S./NATO occupation of Afghanistan and the bombing of Libya the year before. To ensure this gathering of war criminals in Commander-in-Chief Obama’s hometown went off without a hitch, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, mobilized thousands of National Guardsmen, active-duty troops and cops from as far away as North Carolina. (read more...)

30 June 2016

Overturn the felony “lynching” conviction!
Drop all the remaining charges!


The Partisan Defense Committee is writing to protest the conviction of Jasmine Abdullah (Richards) on June 1st. She is the first black person to be tried and convicted for felony “lynching” under a law supposedly intended to criminalize the extra-legal murder of black people. It is grotesque that this law is now being wielded by the police against those who actively protest the modern-day legal lynchings carried out by the racist cops. (read more...)

20 May 2016

Victim of Racist Frame-Up

Gary Tyler Finally Freed

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

On April 29, Gary Tyler, who had been framed up on bogus murder charges, was finally released from the notorious Angola prison hell that had been his home for over 40 years, eight of them in solitary. In the fall of 1974, Tyler was one of dozens of black students confronted by a vicious racist backlash in newly desegregated Destrehan High School. Such scenes played out not merely in the Deep South of Tyler’s Louisiana but across the country, including in the Northern liberal city of Boston. With racist animosity fever hot, on 4 October 1974, school officials canceled classes. Tyler and his black schoolmates were hustled into a school bus, which was then pelted with rocks and bottles by a KKK-organized mob of over a hundred. A shot rang out striking Timothy Weber, a 13-year-old white student, who later died at the hospital. (read more...)

20 May 2016

Free the MOVE Prisoners!

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

Three members of the MOVE 9—Debbie, Janet and Janine Africa—had a parole hearing on May 12, having spent over 38 years in prison. As we go to press, no determination on their parole has been announced. MOVE, a predominantly black, radical, back-to-nature commune upholding the right of armed self-defense, has been targeted for vicious state repression ever since it was established in Philadelphia in the early 1970s. On 8 August 1978, after a months-long siege, an army of nearly 600 cops unleashed a fusillade of gunfire and then stormed MOVE’s Powelton Village home. One police officer, James Ramp, was killed in the cops’ own cross fire. At least eight witnesses testified that no gunshots came from the MOVE house, and no fingerprints of any MOVE member were found on the weapons supposedly recovered from their home. Despite this evidence of their innocence, nine MOVE members were framed up for the cop’s death and convicted on conspiracy and murder charges. They were sentenced to prison terms of between 30 and 100 years. (read more...)

11 March 2016

Defend Anti-Fascist Protesters!

Klan Provocation Stopped


An integrated crowd of dozens of anti-fascists, including anarchists and supporters of Progressive Labor Party (PLP), stopped the Ku Klux Klan’s “White Lives Matter” anti-immigrant provocation in Anaheim, California’s Pearson Park on February 27. From the start, the race terrorists were out for blood. A protester explained in a February 27 interview on YouTube that when protesters approached the Klansmen, the KKK pulled out weapons. One Klansman stabbed at anti-fascists with a pointed flagpole flying an American flag. Protesters defended themselves and drove off the Klan, but not before the KKKers had stabbed three protesters, sending them to the hospital. (read more...)

11 March 2016

Reinstate Fired Chicago Transit Union Steward!

The Partisan Defense Committee joins the many voices calling for the immediate reinstatement of bus driver Erek Slater. Mr. Slater is an elected Executive Board member of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 241 and union steward for the North Park Garage. The CTA fired Mr. Slater for “insubordination” for defending the rights of a union member whom he represents. The CTA had previously targeted Mr. Slater for protected union activity including speaking as a union representative at a company safety meeting and informing co-workers of a rally on behalf of the Chicago Teachers Union. His firing is an outrageous attack on ATU 241 and an attempt to bully the transit workers and their union in the midst of contract negotiations. (read more...)

11 March 2016

Let Rachel Wolkenstein Defend Her Client!

The state of Pennsylvania is attempting to revoke the right of attorney Rachel Wolkenstein to represent her client Corey Walker. This is a clear act of political retribution for her work in defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal, America’s foremost political prisoner. As an out-of-state lawyer, Wolkenstein was admitted to practice in Pennsylvania pro hac vice (for this case only) in September 2014 in order to represent Walker, who is fighting to overturn his murder conviction. In a 6 November 2014 motion that raised several legalistic pretexts, the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office explicitly cited Wolkenstein’s political views as a reason to revoke her admission to practice and to prevent her from representing her client. (read more...)

26 February 2016

Albert Woodfox Free at Last

On February 19, his 69th birthday, Albert Woodfox finally walked out of a Louisiana prison a free man after spending nearly 44 years in solitary confinement—the longest such stint of any U.S. prisoner. The Spartacist League and Partisan Defense Committee salute this courageous man, and we join his many supporters in hailing his release from prison. (read more...)

12 February 2016

30th Annual Holiday Appeal

Solidarity with Class-War Prisoners

The Partisan Defense Committee held its 30th annual Holiday Appeal in January and raised thousands of dollars for its program of sending monthly stipends to class-war prisoners. For three decades, the PDC has sent money to those imprisoned for standing up to racist capitalist repression and has also given holiday gifts to them and their families. Support for class-war prisoners is not an act of charity but an act of solidarity from those fighting on the outside to those behind prison walls. The fundraisers took place in New York, Chicago, Oakland, Los Angeles and Toronto and were attended by PDC supporters, former political prisoners, trade unionists and others. (read more...)

12 February 2016

Spartacist League Speaker at Oakland Holiday Appeal

The following remarks, edited for publication, were given by Spartacist League spokesman Reuben Samuels at the January 31 Oakland event.

Black bodies stacked in cages, blood on the streets and poison in Flint’s drinking water: these atrocities reveal capitalist America’s racist impulse to genocide. Chilling videos of racist cop executions generate nationwide protests around the plaintive rallying cry “Black Lives Matter”—in a social order where they clearly don’t. Deindustrialization has turned too many black youth into an unwanted surplus population, to be gunned down or locked up. (read more...)

12 February 2016

A Visit with Mumia

The following are edited remarks by the PDC’s Paul Cooperstein at the New York City Holiday Appeal.

Two weeks ago, PDC staff counsel Valerie West and myself visited Mumia in scenic Frackville, Pennsylvania. Last March Mumia was rushed to a hospital, on the verge of death, in a near-diabetic coma. For months he had had debilitating rashes all over his body; he had lost some 50 pounds. Mumia has active hepatitis C, and the prison has restricted efforts to get treatment. He has sued in federal court to compel them to provide such treatment, and before our visit, there was a three-day hearing in that lawsuit, with Mumia participating by teleconference. (read more...)

12 February 2016

Greetings from Class-War Prisoners

Mumia Abu-Jamal

It’s Christmas Season in America, ca. 2015, and when we look at the national landscape, we can hardly ignore the gore, both literal and figurative, that litters the landscape of the US in this historic epoch. (read more...)

12 February 2016

Remarks by Hugo Pinell’s Daughter

Following are excerpts from a presentation given by Allegra Taylor, daughter of Hugo Pinell, at the Bay Area event on January 31.

Why are we here and why is it important? The difference that the PDC makes in the lives of prisoners is so profound and it touches deep and long. The stipend that appears to be something that is so minor, it really takes them further. And then they have things they can do and share with their family as a result of the support they are getting here. (read more...)

The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization which champions cases and causes in the interest of the whole of the working people. This purpose is in accordance with the political views of the Spartacist League. Our heritage is the working-class defense policies of the International Labor Defense (ILD), under its founder and first secretary from 1925-1928, James P. Cannon. The PDC was initiated by the Spartacist League in 1974, and stands on the record of principled defense work conducted by the Spartacist League.

The PDC is partisan: we stand unconditionally on the side of working people and their allies in struggle against their exploiters and oppressors. We place all our faith in the power of the masses and no faith whatever in the “justice” of the courts. While favoring all possible legal proceedings for the cases we support, we recognize that the courts, prisons and police exist to maintain through organized violence and terror the rule of one class over others. In its partisanship, the PDC is also anti-sectarian. We champion causes and defend cases whose victorious outcomes are in the interest of working people, irrespective of particular political views. We defend, in the words of James P. Cannon, “any member of the workers movement, regardless of his views, who suffered persecution by the capitalist courts because of his activities or his opinion” (The First Ten Years of American Communism).