Articles From
Defense Notes
No. 35, Spring 2008

LBL Speaker: Mobilize Labor Power in Fight to Free Mumia!

The following speech, edited for publication, by New York Labor Black League spokesman Ron Hinds, who is a member of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100, was delivered at the NYC Holiday Appeal on December 16. This is reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 906 (18 January).

We in the Labor Black League for Social Defense say: Mumia Abu-Jamal is an innocent man! Free him now! Abolish the racist death penalty! Free all class-war prisoners! The same capitalist state that has viciously sought to punish my union ever since we struck in New York City transit in December 2005 wants Mumia executed. This state has to be smashed through socialist revolution, and it will take a revolutionary workers party to lead this—a party that will sweep away capitalism and usher in a socialist society where those who labor rule. The Labor Black Leagues are fraternally allied to the Spartacist League, a multiracial revolutionary Marxist organization that seeks to build that party. Karl Marx wrote that labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded. Brothers and sisters, the road to black liberation is through socialist revolution!

In early 2006, Mumia wrote a column defending my union and the right to strike. The bourgeoisie saw the strike as akin to a slave insurrection by our heavily black and immigrant union. During the strike, the billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg branded us as thugs. The LBL seeks to mobilize the multiracial labor movement in solid militant actions to defend workers and the oppressed. Our supporters have fought within the unions, where the social power lies, to mobilize to free Mumia. Imagine what it would have meant if the call to free Mumia had been a key demand of our strike.

Mumia’s case resonates with workers in my union. We have long pushed the union to take up his fight. Reflecting our efforts, dozens of stewards and officers have added their names to those worldwide calling to free Mumia.

A whole range of organizations that call themselves socialist—including some with supporters in my union—from the International Socialist Organization to Workers World Party, to ANSWER, to Socialist Action, base their protests for Mumia around the call for a new trial. What can that mean? Mumia is the victim of a racist frame-up by the capitalist justice system that has kept him in death row hell for a quarter of a century. Such calls serve to build illusions in the capitalist state. Mumia is innocent! Free him now!

It is the working class that creates the wealth in this capitalist society. TWU Local 100, which is made up of black, white, Latino, Asian workers and immigrant workers, crippled the financial capital of the world in December 2005 when we withheld our labor. Working-class people in the city and the oppressed and unemployed saw this struggle as their own. But that strike was cut short by a class-collaborationist union leadership that ties the union to the Democratic Party of Governor Eliot Spitzer. When he was the state attorney general, Spitzer led the state’s efforts to punish the workers and the union with injunctions and fines and the jailing of Local 100 president Roger Toussaint.

What workers need is their own party, a workers party that fights for a workers government, a party that fights for their interests and the interests of black people, women, immigrants, gays and all the oppressed. A party that fights for socialist revolution to expropriate the tiny ruling class, armed to the teeth, that owns and controls everything worth having in this society.

We are facing an assault by the bosses. They care about nothing but their profits. The Democrats and Republicans are not our friends. The leaderships of the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win coalition tie the workers to these bourgeois parties, which both support the “war on terror” and the murderous occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, resulting in untold death and misery for the people of these countries. We in the LBL demand all imperialist troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan now!

Mumia’s case is a microcosm of capitalist class rule and the black oppression that is intrinsic to it. In the U.S., the barbaric death penalty is the legacy of chattel slavery, the lynch rope made legal. We say finish the Civil War! The road to black freedom lies in the struggle for revolutionary integrationism—the full integration of black people into an egalitarian, socialist America. The fight for black freedom is the strategic question of the American proletarian revolution. There can be no socialist revolution in the U.S. unless the working class takes up the fight for black freedom—opposing every manifestation of racist repression and discrimination—and there can be no liberation of black people without the overthrow of this capitalist system.

Union members were among the 50,000 people in Jena, Louisiana, on September 20 to protest the Jim Crow persecution of six black high school students for sitting under a “white tree” and defending themselves against racist attack. This protest demonstrated widespread anger over the conditions of black life in racist America but was misled by liberals and Democrats, foremost among them Jesse Jackson and Democratic Party hustler and FBI fink Al Sharpton. Presidential hopeful Barack Obama just stayed away. The outrage over Jena was answered with a nationwide epidemic of racist provocations in which lynch rope nooses were hung in workplaces, schools and homes to terrorize black people. This threat of lynch rope terror supplements the daily terror of the capitalist state, which at bottom consists of the cops, courts, prisons and the military. At the pinnacle lie the legal lynchings of the racist death penalty. We in the Labor Black League say: Abolish the racist death penalty!

Some ask us what does Mumia have to do with labor issues and the labor movement? Everything! An injury to one is an injury to all! The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal symbolizes what the death penalty is all about. Mumia in his youth was an eloquent spokesman for the Black Panther Party. He quickly came into the cross hairs of the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO. He is a supporter of the back-to-nature MOVE organization, which was a target of brutal police terror. The railroading of Mumia to the gallows continues to this day in the lying book and media blitz by Maureen Faulkner. Mumia remains on death row despite mountains of evidence of his innocence, including the confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, shot Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. The state sees in Mumia the spectre of black revolt, and that is why it wants to execute him.

The great revolutionary V.I. Lenin, whose Bolshevik Party led the working class to power at the head of all the oppressed in the Russian Revolution of 1917, wrote that the socialist’s “ideal should not be the trade-union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression.” We will never forget the unbroken chain of racist cop killings, like the brutal slaying of bridegroom Sean Bell in a hail of 50 cop bullets or the killing of 18-year-old Khiel Coppin. In the summer of 2002, a young black man named Jamil Moore was gunned down in his home in Canarsie, Brooklyn. His mother is a member of TWU Local 100. As long as capitalism stays in place in the U.S., such racist police killings will never go away.

Lynch mob terror is alive and well in racist America, as in the case of John White, a black man who is on trial right now for manslaughter for defending his son and his house last year in Long Island against a racist youth mob [see “John White Must Go Free!” Workers Vanguard No. 905, 4 January]. The LBL says: No to gun control! Gun control kills blacks! Last year, a young black gay man, Michael Sandy, was lured to Plumb Beach near Sheepshead Bay by racist killers. He died trying to escape them in expressway traffic. Only last week, young Jewish subway riders were attacked by racist thugs, one of whom is about to serve time for a previous racist attack against blacks in Gerritsen Beach.

What’s needed is labor-centered mobilizations to sweep these racist scum off the street. November 27 marked the 25th anniversary of one of several mass labor/black mobilization victories initiated by the Spartacist League and Partisan Defense Committee, including on October 23, 1999, right here in New York City. On November 27, 1982 the race-terrorist KKK was swept off the streets of Washington, D.C. The Klan had announced a march against “illegal” immigrants, posing a direct threat also to blacks, trade unionists, leftists and all that are in the sights of the fascists. They were stopped cold when more than 5,000 union members, black youth and anti-racist militants turned out and took the streets instead. These victories demonstrated communist-led, integrated working-class power and the way forward in the struggle for black liberation. It was the victory in D.C. that launched the Labor Black Leagues in this country.

We fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants. Thousands are rounded up in I.C.E. (formerly INS) raids every year and deported. We in the LBL call for labor action to stop deportations! We fight for jobs for all, for free quality medical care, free quality childcare, and free quality education for all. We say: Organize the unorganized here in New York City at FreshDirect and everywhere, at Wal-Mart and across the “right to starve” South, where the fight against racial oppression is key. The entire capitalist state apparatus exists to suppress the multiracial working class and to smash effective working-class struggle.

If you are interested in our struggle for a socialist future, check out our LBL literature table. Read and subscribe to Workers Vanguard and come to our next readers’ circle. Get involved and join us. Join us at the emergency demo after the decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and three weeks later for a demo in Philly. Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Free all class-war prisoners!