13 April 2012

Drop All Charges Against Carlos Montes!

On March 27, a Los Angeles judge dismissed two out of six felony charges against Chicano activist Carlos Montes, who is a supporter of the reformist Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) and writes for its newspaper, Fight Back! Montes is a victim of an FBI frame-up of 24 leftists, antiwar organizers and union activists. Beginning in September 2010, the FBI raided their homes and offices, mainly in the Midwest. The Feds investigated them for “material support to terrorism” due to their activities in solidarity with the oppressed in Latin America and the Near East and for helping to organize protests against the 2008 Republican National Convention (see “Protest FBI Raids on Leftists, Union Activists!” WV No. 966, 8 October 2010).

On 17 May 2011, the FBI and a Los Angeles Sheriff’s SWAT team broke down Montes’ door and ransacked his home, seizing his notes and papers. Using reactionary gun control laws, the agents arrested Montes on bogus charges of violating a firearms code, falsely alleging he had a felony on his record and therefore cannot own a gun. This claim originates from a 1969 student strike for black, Chicano and women’s studies at East L.A. College in which protesters were beaten and arrested by police. On his way home, Montes was arrested and accused of assaulting a sheriff’s deputy—with an empty soda can! However, as the Committee to Stop FBI Repression points out, “according to a recent court document, this charge was sentenced as a misdemeanor. The prosecution is basing its case on this 42-year-old misdemeanor, disguising it as a bogus felony” (fightbacknews.org, 25 March).

We print below a speech by Diana Coleman at a March 27 protest in defense of Carlos Montes called by the L.A. Committee to Stop FBI Repression, which was held outside the Los Angeles Superior Courts Building. The protest was attended by FRSO supporters and other leftists, including former SDS organizer Eric Gardner. In her remarks, comrade Coleman refers to a 2008 rally where Gardner argued the importance of “holding the Obama administration to their antiwar promises” (see “UCLA SDS Hitches Skateboard to Obama Bandwagon,” WV No. 927, 2 January 2009). The FRSO, for its part, claimed that Obama’s victory was “stunning” and represented “a blow against racism.” As we have repeatedly noted, Barack Obama, as head of U.S. imperialism, has simply carried out the pledge he made as a candidate: to uphold the interests of the racist capitalist ruling class against workers and the oppressed at home and abroad, not least by extending the reach of the rulers’ “war on terror.”

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On behalf of the Spartacist League and the Partisan Defense Committee, we have come to these hearings to defend Carlos Montes against the government/FBI witchhunt and to demand that all charges be dropped! This case, along with the raids and grand jury subpoenas in the Midwest against Freedom Road Socialist Organization and others, is part of the Obama administration’s war on civil liberties. This is a blatant political frame-up targeting Montes because of his 40-plus years of leftist political activism and his work with Freedom Road.

In vastly expanding the state’s repressive powers in the name of the “war on terror,” the capitalist government has slashed the fundamental rights of association and speech. The Obama administration has one-upped the Bush regime in its war on civil liberties, deported more immigrants than Bush ever did, and has continued U.S. imperialism’s wars abroad with a vengeance. During the 2008 elections liberals and reformist leftists including Freedom Road pushed the dangerous illusion that Obama would reverse the worst policies of George Bush. I remember Eric here, who is nicely holding the megaphone, arguing this line at a UCLA SDS rally. We Marxists of the SL say no! Democrats, no less than Republicans, are the enemies of working people.

What is needed is a class-struggle defense which looks to the power of the multiracial working class, which is the ultimate target of the “anti-terror” witchhunt and which alone has the social power and interest in smashing capitalist rule and replacing it with a workers state. Any illusions in the neutrality of the state or the courts undermine a serious defense. The courts, prisons and police exist to maintain through organized violence the rule of the capitalist class over the workers and oppressed. But ultimately what the racist capitalist rulers can get away with is determined by the level of class struggle. And there will be no real justice until the imperialist exploiters are swept away through socialist revolution. Drop all charges against Carlos Montes! An injury to one is an injury to all! 

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1000, 13 April 2012)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.