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Protests continue in Los Angeles after police kill unarmed 29-year-old man!

3 Sep

By Dan Conway
3 September 2020

Protests continued in Los Angeles for a third day in a row Wednesday over the killing of 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee.

On Monday, deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department stopped Kizzee, an African-American man, over an alleged vehicle code violation while riding a bicycle. According to police accounts, Kizzee then fled on foot with a jacket in his arms. Kizzee dropped the jacket during the pursuit, with deputies alleging that it contained a hidden firearm prompting them to fire at Kizzee and kill him.

The lawyer representing Kizzee’s family alleges that he was shot more than 20 times in the back while the sheriff’s department alleges fewer than 20 shots were fired.

The sheriff’s department also alleges that the young man punched one of the deputies during the course of the pursuit, however, they also claim that neither of the two officers suffered any injuries as a result of the incident. The department claims that Kizzee tried to reach for the gun before being shot, however, no evidence has been provided to substantiate the claim either. Neither deputy has been named by the department thus far with both put on leave.

Several witnesses to the incident interviewed by the Los Angeles Times indicated they did not see any sign of a threat from Kizzee towards the officers. Latiera Kirby, who had stopped by her mother’s house, was sitting in her car when Kizzee ran by pleading for help. “He said, ‘They’re coming to get me, they’re coming to get me,’” Kirby noted. Kizzee then offered Kirby money to drive him away. Kirby refused him, not knowing who he was and why he was running, and related that she then saw the deputies pursuing Kizzee and shooting him after he fell to the ground. “He had nothing in his hands,” Kirby said.

The shooting horrified nearby residents who, by all indications, witnessed the summary execution of an innocent man by Los Angeles police officers. Neighbors cried out that he did not need to be shot. “You don’t have to shoot him that many times! You could have tased him,” they said.

Another community resident who witnessed the shooting, 52-year-old Alida Trejo, says she heard between 8 and 11 shots fired after witnessing Kizzee run past her home. She saw a deputy struggling to arrest Kizzee while neighbors were telling him not to resist and for the deputy not to shoot. According to Trejo however, “They say the man punched the deputy, but I never saw that happen.”

The sheriff’s department has claimed that they do not know what specific violation the young man committed while riding his bicycle or why officers would engage him in a foot chase and then shoot him over such a minor infraction.

It is likely that Kizzee was in fact the subject of what is known as a pretextual traffic stop. Having no probable cause for arrest, police will follow a subject driving a car, pedaling a bicycle, or otherwise operating a vehicle until the suspect commits a traffic violation. At that point, the minor infraction can be used as a pretext for more invasive searching and interrogation.

The killing of Kizzee, coming on the heels of the shooting of Jakob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, George Floyd in Minnesota, and numerous others, has prompted continuous protests throughout the past three days including outside the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s station. Sheriff Alex Villanueva used the occasion of the protests to claim sympathy with Kizzee’s family while absurdly drawing moral equivalence between random street violence and targeted killings by police officers noting that protests seem to care about the latter case only.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is also under fire for the June killing of 18-year-old Andres Guardado in the West Compton area. Guardado worked as a security guard at an auto body shop. The sheriff’s department alleges the young man pulled a gun on officers after they had been “observing” him. Like the killing of Kizzee, no police calls had been made in relation to the incident with the police shooting Guardado in the back five times. The incident sparked protests numbering in the thousands prompting the Sheriff’s department to destroy footage of in the incident kept by a local store owner.

A whistleblower has since given sworn testimony that Guardado was murdered as part of an initiation into a violent police gang known as the “Executioners.” The whistleblower, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy Austreberto Gonzalez, testified that “Members become inked as ‘Executioners’ after executing members of the public, or otherwise commit acts of violence in furtherance of the gang.” The “inking” Gonzalez referred to are tattoos Executioners members wear including AK-47s and Nazi imagery. Gonzalez testified that the gangs oftentimes throw “998 parties” named after the police code for an officer-involved shooting after a deputy shoots someone.

Gonzalez’s lawyer, Alan Romero, told the Los Angeles Times, “We have a gang here that has grown to the point where it dominates every aspect of life at the Compton station. It essentially controls scheduling, the distribution of informant tips, and assignments to deputies in the station with preference to members of the gang as well as prospects.”

County Sherriff Villanueva later said, “There is no gang of any deputies running any station.” Referring to Gonzalez’s testimony, Villanueva remarked, “I take these allegations very seriously and recently enacted a policy specifically addressing illicit groups, deputy cliques and subgroups.” Inspector General Max Huntsman, however, remarked that he was “aware of no implementation whatsoever” of any such policies.

Researchers have uncovered the existence of multiple gangs among Los Angeles law enforcement, some going back as far back as 1971. These include the “Banditos” patrolling East LA, the “Lynwood Vikings” and the “3000 boys” based out of the Men’s Central Jail who would earn their tattoos each time they broke an inmate’s bones.

Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)

After The DNC-RNC We Can’t Breathe: Keep The Struggle In The Streets!

31 Aug

The Two Parties Have Failed The People

At the Democratic Convention, no one used the phrases Medicare for all, Green New Deal, tuition-free college and vocational school, universal basic income, or wealth tax, even though all of these issues are supported by the majority of voters. Sen. Bernie Sanders, AOC, and Andrew Yang were silenced on issues they had championed during their campaigns.

At the Republican Convention, if those policies were mentioned, they were derided or called ‘socialist.’ The two parties did not talk about economic, health, and environmental policies because neither has any solutions. Instead, the bi-partisan policies they support have created the economic, public health, and environmental crises we are facing.

The United States is in crisis because the two-party system has failed the people and the planet. On a global scale, the United States is rated as a “flawed democracy” and corruption is on the rise. Studies within the United States find that popular support for a policy has no impact on whether it will be made into law by Congress, while wealthy interests have a significant impact over whether a law passes or fails. This is consistent with the United States being a plutocracy ruled by the wealthy.

As we have written in the past, the United States is a mirage democracy where the candidates are largely chosen by the power holders and the people get to vote for one or another corporate-approved candidate. A few progressive candidates are elected from time to time but they are marginalized at the federal level. If they do gain power, the elites move swiftly to rein them in or redistrict them out.

Third party candidates are kept out of the debates and the media, even left-leaning media like Democracy Now has not interviewed the Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins although he’ll be on the ballot in most states. Third party candidates have to fight to be on the ballot in each state, a challenge often made more difficult by Democrats and Republicans challenging them and tying them up in court.

For this reason, many people throw up their hands and decide that trying to work within the two-party system is the only available option, as flawed as it is. But, where has that gotten us? Federal elections these days are more commonly about voting against what you don’t want rather than voting for what you do want. Lesser evil voting has driven a race to the bottom in the quality of the candidates because as long as people are voting out of fear, it doesn’t matter who the candidate is or what they stand for.

Trump and Biden as the major party presidential candidates this year are the result of the system we have. Whichever one wins in November, the outcome will still be a plutocracy. The climate crisis will still rage on with climate-transformed wildfires, derechos, and drought that destroy crops and strong hurricanes that flatten towns but the Green New Deal will be off the table. The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to sicken and kill hundreds of thousands but Medicare for All won’t be an option. Workers will still be forced to work for low wages in unsafe conditions, families will lose their homes and students will be buried under heavy loans, but when Wall Street corporations or banks need help, the Federal Reserve will whisk their troubles away to the tune of trillions of dollars. Wars and interventions will continue as the Pentagon receives record budgets year after year, but for some reason, there isn’t enough money to fund our public schools, feed hungry families, or rebuild our failing infrastructure.

This system is protected by a security state that has no regard for human life, especially if you are black or brown. Time and again, the legal system lets the police get away with cold-blooded murder. This lack of accountability emboldens law enforcement. And now, it is clear from the recent events in Kenosha Wisconsin, and even before that, those right-wing militias are an unofficial arm of the security state. If this continues and they are not held accountable, they will also be emboldened to kill with impunity.

This is the reality in which we live. It is not the first time in history that this situation has existed in the world but it is unique to our generations in this country. We are living in a dark period, a failing state, and changing this situation is going to take hard work and sacrifice, but history also teaches us that people do have the power to take on the power elites and win.

Building Power To Lead From Below

We are in the midst of a national uprising on multiple fronts of struggle. There are widespread protests against racist police violence and there have been more than 900 wildcat strikes since March over worker safety and low pay. Teachers are striking over school reopenings. There are ongoing protests stopping pipelines and extreme energy extraction projects as well as demanding action on the climate crisis. Just last week, there was a national day of protest involving actions in hundreds of cities to save the US Postal Service.

Since the Occupy protests of 2011, which focused on wealth inequality and political corruption, but also included system-wide change on low wages, police violence, the climate crisis, and student debt, people have been building deeper movements in all of these areas. During the Obama-era, the Fight for $15 began, along with Black Lives Matter, immigrant rights, climate, and debt protests. When the pandemic and recession began, people started organizing General Strike and Rent Strike campaigns

The potential for people power has never been greater. Hundreds of thousands of people are ready to take the streets and stop business as usual. This is a time when every one of us has a role to play, whether it is sharing information in our communities (being the media), starting conversations in our social circles (education), organizing and mobilizing people in the groups we belong to or providing support for our neighbors and people who are in the streets (mutual aid). Learn how social movements create transformational change in our free online course.

No matter what happens this November, the protest movement must continue to fight for economic, racial, and environmental justice as well as peace. The next presidential Inauguration Day will need to be a day of protest when more people come to Washington, DC to make demands of the next president than are there to celebrate him.

The growing movement of movements has a broad foundation of education, organization, and mobilization on which to build. We have the ability to make this country ungovernable and if we use that power, we can make demands that cannot be ignored.

Our mailing address is: “Because a sustainable future depends on the people willing to see the truth for what it is, and for those to stand up in unison in order to make a difference.” — Jake Edwards Keli’i Eakin
AFGJ/Popular Resistance
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Tucson, AZ 85713

Nearly 700 Protests Planned for Saturday at Post Offices Across Country as DeJoy Slammed for Defense of Mail Sabotage.

22 Aug

“From the most remote village in the Alaskan tundra to the tiniest island in the Everglades, there’s one connection we’ve always depended on: the mail.”byJulia Conley, staff writer

As of Friday afternoon, more than 650 demonstrations were planned as part of “Save the Post Office Saturday,” a national day of action in which people across the U.S. will demand that President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy end their assault on the U.S. Postal Service. Demonstrations will begin at 11:00 am local time. 

The number of planned protests at hundreds of post offices grew as DeJoy testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday, telling lawmakers he has “no intention” of returning hundreds of mail sorting machines that have been decommissioned in recent weeks, severely cutting postal workers’ ability to deliver mail quickly. The postmaster general claimed the machines are not needed.

The removal of machines in battleground states including Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan will have serious implications for the general election in November, civil rights advocates have warned, as many Americans—particularly Democratic voters—plan to vote by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

This week, DeJoy announced he was suspending changes to mail operations until after the November election to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail,” but made clear that he has no plans to return mailboxes and sorting machines that were removed or restore overtime hours that he cut. 

The president has also said he would block emergency funding for the Postal Service and for election assistance, saying that the funding would allow for “universal mail-in voting,” which he has falsely claimed would result in a fraudulent election.

MoveOn, which is joining with the NAACP, SEIU, the Working Families Party, and other advocacy groups to organize the day of action, said people across the country are rejecting Trump’s attack on the election and the Postal Service. 

“From the most remote village in the Alaskan tundra to the tiniest island in the Everglades, there’s one connection we’ve always depended on: the mail. Together, we’re coming together to support a beloved system that every American relies on,” said Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn.

poll released this week by Yahoo News and YouGov showed strong opposition to Trump’s blocking of Postal Service funding, with 50% of respondents saying they “strongly” disapprove and only 28% saying they approve. Nearly two-thirds of voters surveyed said they feared they would be prevented from voting due to Trump and DeJoy’s actions. 

“The mail shapes our lives and our livelihoods. It’s how millions get our medicines, send holiday greetings, and receive the resources we depend on,” said Epting. “And, in this pandemic, the mail is how millions of us will deliver our democracy. We reject these attacks on the USPS. We demand full restoration of machines and personnel plus full funding for the post office. We will fight until every vote is counted.”

MoveOn and other organizers are offering print-at-home signs for attendees to bring to the protests, emblazoned with phrases including, “Stamp Out Fascism,” “Roll Back DeJoy, Restore the Machines,” and “4 Million Prescriptions Delivered Daily.”

Participants will be urged to wear face coverings at the socially distanced demonstrations, MoveOn said. 

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