NO CARS IN L.A. NO TANKS IN L.A.
by Eric Mann on Wednesday, October 22, 2014
NO CARS IN L.A. NO TANKS IN L.A. NO STOP AND FRISK IN L.A. NOT ONE MORE DEPORTATION IN L.A.
The Fight for the Soul of the Cities is the Fight for the Soul of the United States. U.S. society is facing a moral, spiritual, economic, ecological, racial, political crisis and is carrying out a war against it own people and the people of the world. At a time when the need for social revolution has never been greater the people are disorganized, demoralized, terrified and alone-but that is beginning to change before our very eyes.
The actual conditions of people's lives are increasingly unbearable, with foreclosures, evictions, permanent unemployment, endless medical problems, obesity, poor public health facilities, closing down of emergency rooms, and young people with massive student loans for a worthless education. Women are suffering unbearable violence in the home, the workplace, the streets, the army, and the immigration prisons.
The people are so lonely they spend their time dreaming of "social networks" in which they have imaginary friends, imaginary jobs, imaginary relationships while sleeping on their parents couches if they are lucky and in their cars or in the streets if they are not.
The few decades of "the American dream" won at the expense of massive poverty in the Third World are over. The people, who for no more than a long generation, had jobs; homes, pensions and a modicum of economic security are literally dying off. The fantasy of home ownership is disintegrating-especially for Black folks who spent generations building up tiny "equity" from the end of slavery only to lose them in Kapitalist Katrina, Disintegrating Detroit, and Obama's trillions of dollars for banks "too big to fail" and massive foreclosures on folks too poor, too vulnerable, too Black to survive let alone succeed.
In our work with 500,000 LA bus riders and 700,000 LA high school students and their parents the conditions of life are almost unbearable to describe-as kids praise their moms and dads for "working 3 jobs" and still trying to clothe, feed, and house them with no lives whatsoever of their own-and those are the ones lucky to have any jobs at all. The cities of the United States are an urban battleground-a war between the system's counterinsurgency against a people's insurgency that is just in the incubation stages-after 40 years of the system's counter-revolution against the Great Revolution of the Two Decades of the Sixties led by the Black and Vietnamese liberation movements.
Los Angeles-The Fight for the Soul of the Cities is part of a National and International Urban Uprising.
Los Angeles today is ruled by the privatizing, polluting, policing corporate class that is making life unbearable for the vast majority of the people. The city, and the country, is creating a low-wage, no wage, global warming empire backed up by police, immigration raids, and military occupation. We are building a movement to fight for the social welfare state not the police state, the environmental justice state not the warfare state. What a great opportunity for all of us-a chance for you to help make history.
We are fighting for and fighting to win-No Cars in L.A., No Tanks in L.A. No Stop and Frisk in L.A. No Deportations in L.A.
No Cars in L.A.
The Problem: Los Angeles has 7 million cars, 50 Million Metric Tons (MMTs) of air toxins-L.A. and the U.S. are major contributors to a world global warming crisis. The same emissions from cars contribute to significant numbers of cases of cancer, asthma, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and of course, by far the worst incidences in low-income Black and Latino communities located near freeways. It is predicted that in the 2040s and 2050s there will be a catastrophic explosion of droughts, floods, heat waves and suffering all over the world and Los Angeles' "target date for disaster" is 2047!
But let's not just blame the auto companies and the too simply villain - "corporate greed." We have to look in the mirror-most of us are part of the problem not part of the solution. The car culture reinforces all our worse instincts-to buy a product we all know is causing suffering all over the world, including to us. We are willing suckers for the evils of Mad Men and the advertising industry's full court press to make the auto addiction irresistible-convincing us to reject "public" transportation and public life in favor of "private" transportation and selfish schemes.
The Solution: No Cars in LA-We demand the radical restriction in auto use now! Reverse the MTA fare increases, free student pass, free public transportation, 5,000 zero emission buses, a moratorium on rail and highway expansion, auto free zones, auto free freeways, auto free days, bus only lanes all over L.A.
All Power to the Climate Warriors. In this campaign it will be the people who do not have cars, those who cannot afford one and those who choose not to drive one, who are the Climate Warriors" who will lead us out of temptation and into the promised land. The Bus Riders Union has led this fight for 20 years and now, as part of the Fight for the Soul of the Cities, we have a greater understanding and a larger strategy to win. In 2015 people from all over the world will be gathering in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. They will be demanding a radical solution to the greatest challenge facing humankind and the planet. We want to be part of the solution and part of the world war against the privatizing, polluting, policing ruling elite that is trying to rule the world and presently rules L.A.
No Tanks in L.A.
The Problem: The LASPD, LAPD, and LA Sheriff's have tanks, assault rifles, and an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction under the Department of Defense 1033 Program This is an occupying army to put down protests and demonstrations against an unjust system. Please don't ask, "Why would the Los Angeles Unified School District allow such weapons in the hands of the Los Angeles School Police Department?" The answer, sadly, is that these are part of a national plan to arm the system to the teeth in anticipation of non-violent, militant, protests. We have seen it throughout U.S. history-from Watts in 1965 to L.A. in 1992 to Ferguson today. It is a plan to put down the Black and Latino community, the entire working class, and the people's movements in L.A.
The Solution: No Tanks in L.A. We want the Los Angeles School Police, Los Angeles Police Department, the L.A.County Sheriff's Department to:
1) Make an inventory of all the weapons they have received from the "Defense" (that is the War Department) to use against civilian populations in the U.S. and LA
2) We want these agencies to withdraw from the 1033 Program.
3) We want them to destroy these weapons-"burn them don't return them" because we don't want them used against civilian populations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or any other country in the world.
The fight for No Tanks in L.A. is essential if we have any chance to organize, to protest, to change this society. There are good people at the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles School Police Department who have worked with us to decriminalize truancy, end police involvement in "willful defiance" and have supported the School Climate Bill of Rights and the Center and Community Rights' Equal Protection Plan. We think L.A. and the school system can lead the fight to get rid of these weapons, to push the LAPD and L.A. Sheriffs to do the same, and work with school boards and cities all over the United States to end the 1033 program altogether.
No Stop and Frisk on the Trains of L.A.
The Problem: The MTA is a corporate development machine commandeering $5 billion in our L.A. county sales taxes, state taxes, and federal taxes to build corporate gentrification projects and payoffs to corporate contractors for rail projects that cost a fortune, wreck and raid the bus system, and leave 500,000 Black and Latino, women, working class, low-income, elderly, student, disabled transit riders over-crowded, late, waiting, and policed by armed sheriffs who are "checking" to see if they have paid their fare-"the stop and frisk" for passengers. The MTA tries to deflect its corporate crimes criminalizing its own passengers- making their ride a police state experience. These passengers are already paying 3 1/2 cent sales taxes that give the MTA $2 billion a year-they are paying many times over for lousy service and corporate exploitation.
The Solution: No Stop and Frisk - Free Public Transportation
We are calling on the Los Angeles MTA to end any L.A. Sheriffs or L.A.P.D. collection of fares on MTA buses and trains. This is another form of "transit racism" another form of "national oppression" against Black and Latino and all MTA passengers. It is an effort to drive passengers off the trains and to make the more middle class, white riders feel "safe." We want civilian, un-armed conductors collecting and checking fares and asking people who have not paid, or whose TAP cards do not work, or who cannot prove they paid, or who could not afford to pay, to simply "quote the fare." That is, they should be encouraged to purchase a ticket next time or at the worst, get off at the next stop. Fare evasion is not a damn crime. Attacking MTA passengers is. We know there are many white people in L.A. who do not want a police state carried out against low-income Black and Latino fellow transit riders in their name. It's time to stand up against transit racism and tell the MTA to cease and desist!
We want and need free public transportation. The MTA robber barons can afford it but don't want to spend it on their passengers. Mayor Garcetti said he supports free public transportation but does not think the MTA can afford it. Then, instead of at least lowering the bus fare he voted to raise it! Until we win a free student bus pass and free public transportation-we demand no stop and frisk. There is no such crime as fare evasion. There is a crime of attacking MTA passengers.
Not one More Deportation in L.A.-Open Borders and Amnesty for all Immigrants
The Problem: Immigrant rights group call President Obama the "Deporter in Chief" - as the Department of Homeland Security and its Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) are deporting and often imprisoning 400,000 immigrants a year-people who have every human right to be here. This disgraceful national program of mass deportations is being led by the Democrats nationally and in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles County Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe support policies in which the L.A. Sheriff's Department is cooperating with deporting people-under a program called 287 G- arresting people, often for no crime at all and then, if they are undocumented or cannot prove documentation are turned over to ICE -the "migra "for intimidation, arrest, imprisonment, cruel and unusual punishment, torture, brutality, and deportation. This is a disgrace, people arrested, often innocent in the first place or violating unjust laws, and then being deported. But the most disgraceful fact of all is that L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina has provided the 3rd and decisive vote to support the 287 G program at a time when Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky have voted to oppose it. Had she voted with them, we could have defeated 287G by a 3 to 2 vote.
The Solution: We totally agree with the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON) and their call: "Not One More Deportation." The Fight for the Soul of the Cities calls for Open Borders and Amnesty-and no cooperation between LA Sheriffs and the Office of "Homeland" Security and Migra. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors has agreed to "revisit" the vote soon. We also call on candidate for supervisor Hilda Solis, the former secretary of labor in the Obama administration with a strong record on rights for working people, to vote No on 287 G if she is elected.
Fight for the Right to Protest and Organize-Oppose the police, military, and surveillance state.
How do you think we can change these conditions? As Eric Mann wrote in Katrina's Legacy: White Racism and Black Reconstruction in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast- "history can guide us!" Read the People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, An Indigenous People's History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz. Read The Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galleano. You will see that every movement for self-determination and opposition to conquest, slavery, genocide, workers rights, Black and Latino rights, women's rights, environmental justice has been met by the most brutal repression by those who run this country. You will also see that a powerful, courageous, multi-racial, international movement of resistance is our best hope.
When the Bus Riders Union organized to stop the MTA's cuts of night service in 2006, we organized a demonstration at the corner of Western and Wilshire to block traffic-which was very successful. This non-violent direct action was truly militant for sure-but we were "peaceful" "unarmed" and protesting MTA policy. In response, the LAPD showed up with 100 police armed to the teeth with full body armor, shields, billy clubs, and guns to take on 15 un-armed Black, Latino, Asian and white demonstrators.
In 2007, on May Day in Los Angeles demonstrators at MacArthur Park protested for immigrant rights. They were attacked by LAPD officers who carried out a police riot against them. In Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, protestors demanding justice for Michael Brown were met by armed police and state troopers who used tear gas, Billy clubs, and rubber bullets to crush the protests.
So we are caught in a vicious and difficult circle. We protest the police state and the police state spies on us, infiltrates our organizations, and tries to suppress our movement. And yet, how can we challenge worldwide global warming without challenging corporate and governmental structure of authority? How can we make the omelet of liberation without breaking some eggs?
But we have also seen that national and international pressure can change some conditions. President Obama and Attorney General Holder opposed the use of armed force against the demonstrators and condemned the arrest of reporters trying to shed light on police crimes. The head of the Highway Patrol joined protestors against police brutality and even the Governor who had fully supported the brutality had to change his tune because "the eyes of the nation are on us."
And yet, our movement is not yet strong enough to cut police forces in half, put police forces in civilian trusteeship, and the "civilian" control of out of control armed police forces will involve the most major structural changes in power relations-and yes, we are far away from that day.
No Cars in L.A. No Tanks in L.A. No Stop and Frisk in L.A. No Deportations in L.A.
These are tremendous. powerful, structural changes we are demanding. And yet this is exactly what is needed. We have to change the system itself-not just "the issues." No Cars in LA, No Tanks in LA, no Stop and Frisk in L.A. and No Deportations in L.A. can unify all the progressive forces in LA to rally for a People's Program, and to Fight for the Soul of the Cities-together! We want the social welfare state, not the police state, the environmental justice state, not the warfare state. If you agree, what a great movement to join. We would love to hear from you. There is plenty of work to do.
Fight for the Soul of the Cities is powered by the Labor/Community Strategy Center and its Bus Riders Union and Community Rights Campaign.