The following was delivered as a speech on May Day in Boyle Heights as part of the Red Guards – Los Angeles-led march and rally. We were honored to participate and we will continue to work alongside our comrades! Together, and most importantly with the militant participation of the masses, we will rid Boyle Heights of all the parasitic slumlords, gentrifiers and ICE terrorists!
Rise up, soldiers of the people: May Day belongs to the working class!
We give militant greetings to all the militants and the masses of Boyle Heights!
May Day, as we all know, is an important day of sacrifice and victory for the working class; not just here in LA, but across the world.
We are here today in the spirit of rebellion – a rebellion that lives inside the veins of our people, the masses of Boyle Heights. As the sun rises and sets can we say we don’t struggle on any given moment, any given day?
Struggle is all we have known and all we will ever know. Let’s not shy away from that shit. This is how things are but like all things it can change and we must change.
Change comes from struggle. Wherever there is conflict, there is change – whether it is between a slumlord and a tenant or a worker and their boss or an undocumented working-class immigrant and ICE. Let’s rejoice that we are in struggle. It’s brought us victory, not just defeat. It has brought us here today and will carry us to tomorrow!
This year, 2018, has brought us an end, but a necessary end so we could make room for another beginning. This year we stopped our food distributions. After two years of weekly food distributions – about 40 bags per week, every week, serving more than 2,000 people in a year. We came to realize that this wasn’t working. We weren’t reaching our goals: creating militant soldiers of and for the people to bring us independence and closer to revolution in this country, under this inhumane system. Handing out bags of food wasn’t creating militants. It was only re-creating individuals. This was one of our main problems. Instead of creating bags for each other, many community members would create their own bags of food and guard them. We tried to reform this individualism by implementing rules to squash it. But individualism, like all creations under capitalism, is only destroyed through real working-class struggle. Struggle was a missing part of the food distribution. Really, it was like a weekly guaranteed victory. The masses became dependent on us like a charity with only a few becoming independent revolutionaries. We demanded discipline like a military command but we also offered compassion because the masses are hungry. They are hungry for both sustenance as well as theory – not like how these dumb fucks would trick us into believing “the masses can’t eat theory” yet we see them clamor to transformation and the politics of liberation. These other activists justify their inaction and cowardice by saying the masses aren’t ready for revolutionary theory or revolution. But through our work we see the opposite. Cast away these fools. Cast away the politics of capitalism – anything that tricks the working class into staying home, not studying, not transforming themselves and their struggles into trenches of combat.
However, we’ve learned , even though we can be stubborn. Once you give the masses the weapons to use against those that oppress them, then gah-damn you’ve done something, something permanent. Worthy of a moment of pride, and a subsequent speech.
Look around you. Do you know where you are. But really, really know it, like grasping what this neighborhood actually is and that the masses are the only force that gives it definition?
Boyle Heights is a battlefield that is part of a larger class war. Gentrification is just a concentrated form of class struggle at the community level. Gentrification, like all things that are reactionary, will inevitably fall. But it won’t fall by itself – only an organized and committed army that is willing to push can make things fall!
This will be done, in part, by our People’s Committees – with the very first committee being formed at the Pleasant Avenue apartments. The tenants of Pleasant Avenue have been neglected for years by a slumlord who still dared to raise their rents! Fuck that! You don’t get a bonus for letting your apartment buildings deteriorate while tenants suffer from your greed. So what did we do? We gathered the scattered anger of the tenants and organized it! Through struggles, the tenants began to realize their power, like a sleeping giant waking up. The committee held a small protest with 30 people for about two hours in front of slumlord Roger Lee’s office. Unsurprisingly, he was missing! He was afraid of the torrent of working-class power coming from the committee members. If we were slumlords (thankfully we’re not, eww) and our tenants were militantly confronting security guards and holding signs saying “Down with Roger Lee”, we would also be shaking! This small flex of force gave the tenants years of what was stolen from them. Slumlord Lee quickly began repairing the apartments and lowered the rent increase from $140 to $70. What a nice and generous guy! 30 people, two hours, and small displays of militancy conquered so much. So imagine 60 people, four hours, even more militancy. Imagine the fear this slumlord would feel then! Imagine how much more the tenants could conquer! As we’ve stated elsewhere, “Numbers and force are the only things that have changed history. Nothing else is effective in fighting gentrification.”
The committee knows that it can shake the world. A few repairs and a fraction of a rent increase is far from what we want. When we asked the tenants if they were satisfied, they responded “No”! When we asked what they wanted, a resounding “Everything” was heard. So when slumlord Roger Lee and the other slumlords (we’re coming for you – your days are numbered) ask us what we want, that will be our answer – everything! If our demands are not met, we will reassure these slumlords that there are militants who are not afraid to struggle, who are not afraid of a jail cell or even death if it means serving the people! All slumlords who do not end their corrupt and shitty ways will be washed away by the torrent of working-class tenants and the militants. Let us also remind slumlords like Roger Lee that the militant masses are growing and aligning themselves to our leadership. Today, there might be a handful of militants but tomorrow, we are certain there will be more – an army, eventually. In Boyle Heights and throughout the world, there is an ever-growing army who fight for the conquest of one thing – everything!
Long live Serve the People – Los Angeles!
Long Live the Peoples Committees!
Long live the militant masses who defend the people!
Shake the World!