Hollowness and Deflections: A response to some pissed-off Los Angeles anti-authoritarians

By Otto Ridad

This statement was written by a supporter who has worked closely with Defend Boyle Heights, Serve the People – Los Angeles and 1917, and supports the countrywide Maoist movement.

Over a month ago, the anarchist-hipster bloggers Ediciones Inéditos published a defense, written anonymously on some tumblr blog, of the OVAS who were expelled from the anti-gentrification organization Defend Boyle Heights (DBH) for being wreckers and identity opportunists. While revolutionary organizations are open to principled criticism, this piece is not that. It is libel.

The author(s) carries on the artsy postmodernist anarchist-who-don’t-like-being-called-anarchist tradition of their predecessors of the short-lived L.A. Onda and even shorter-lived Lucha No Feik: two similar Los Angeles-based anarchist blog projects widely read by dozens of nihilistic art school dropouts anarcho-hipsters.

Throughout the entire blog post, the author(s) fails to provide any evidence for claims and accusations that will be addressed below. The blog post does a terrible job at examining and breaking down different concepts, and defends the OVAS uncritically. With that being said, it is necessary to clarify several points.

The author states that “information is conveniently being left out” and that Red Guards -Los Angeles (RGLA) and its “front group” Serve the People – Los Angeles (STP-LA) were banned from La Conxa for “predatory macktivist behavior and recruitment tactics.”

There are several things to break down here.

For one, RGLA was not “banned” because they are an embryonic “pre-” Communist Party organization whose membership is not disclosed to the public. While a series entitled “Unlearning Patriarchy” had been hosted at La Conxa during 2017, this was led by RGLA supporters and not its members. Again, Maoists do not shy away from criticism, and in earlier years members of RGLA had to rectify patriarchal behaviors which can be read about in Red Guards Austin’s piece, “We Will Not Integrate Into A Burning House.”

As a witness all I can offer is what I saw. Or more importantly what I didn’t see: that is, patriarchal (or women oppression) abuse or “predatory macktivist behavior.” Now, there is no such thing as an organization free from bad practices and even worse, but anytime someone wants to make a claim that a specific organization is guilty of a specific practice, the accuser has an obligation to 1. at least be clear and 2. offer some goddamn proof. Otherwise it’s just repeating things for the sake of repeating them. But this is how opportunists like the OVAS work. They throw out accusations; passive-aggressively deflect when questioned. But STP-LA members were told the history of RGLA’s bad incorrect gender practice through the “Unlearning Patriarchy” series. STP-LA used the series as a way to develop new comrades, prevent these anti-women manifestations especially among men and nip them in the bud. I attended all the series and not once did anyone say they were with or supported Ediciones Inéditos, so I am assuming the author(s) weren’t there, and if they were, and if they saw this “predatory macktivist behavior and recruitment tactics” why didn’t they say anything right then and there?

So where does this claim of being predators and macktivists come from?

It’s necessary to point out that the whole blog post that our artsy-anarchist author(s), who have read way too much Invisible Committee, drones on about is unsubstantiated and basically just parroting what the OVAS in their desperate dying throes of relevancy cling to. “STP-LA and RGLA are patriarchal because they’re patriarchal!”

To call this circular logic would be an understatement. Our anarcho-blogger is a parrot for the OVAS, just like the rest of the macho-ass pork chop (reactionary cultural nationalists) Mexica Tiahui men in camouflage cargo pants who hang out at La Conxa.

The primary reason for the banning of STP-LA from La Conxa was a result of hostility and antagonisms from OVA founder and leader-who-doesn’t-like-to-be-called-leader Xela. She was being emotionally abusive to a member of STP-LA through what is called “gas lighting” (psychological manipulation), making verbal threats when sober and inebriated, stealing personal belongings, looking through his computer, and more. Aside from this, the OVAS, but especially Xela, made claims that the men of STP-LA were being “patriarchal”, yet providing no basis for such claims. In fact, their definitions were loosely based and derived from identity politics, essentially positing men as being inherently “patriarchal” simply for being men.

One key example, as shared with me, was during the months of internal struggle within DBH prior to the expulsion of the OVAS. At this time, the organizations that made up the former-coalition would use La Conxa as a meeting space. One of the first hostilities expressed by the OVAS (and was unsubstantiated) was that the organizations, but especially STP-LA, were not contributing enough to maintaining the space and that this had do to with taking advantage of the “labor of brown women.” However, this was never the case. The primary issue was the OVAS hostility to STP-LA’s Communist politics. Regardless, STP-LA followed through with the request of assisting more at OVA events, far more than any of the other organizations within DBH. STP-LA would help set up on several occasions and comrades from 1917 also provided security as well. STP-LA would clean. They initiated a dues system to help alleviate the burden of paying rent and having to print shirts and sell them, a constant source of stress for the OVAS.

But they conveniently neglected to touch upon this. They have been and continue to be deflecting opportunists. They cannot handle looking at themselves in the mirror, truly seeing their errors, political and even practical ones, and changing them. No, they’re too scared to reflect on the fact that their entire politics and the practice that it springs from is garbage that has led to their constant burn-out, to their revolving-door of ever-shrinking membership. Not only do activists smell this rank rotting politics but so too do the masses, who are largely absent from the events at La Conxa. Sadly,they don’t put out more than a handful of chairs otherwise it makes the place look really empty with all the unused seats!

Maoists know the internal drives development in all things, in all matter. Meaning, the internal workings of an organization are generally the most important thing, in particular their politics. Instead of reflecting as to why people weren’t showing up, they claimed that their labor was being taken advantage of. Instead of asking why isn’t anyone coming to the yoga class, to the postmodernist open mic, to the Reiki massage, or to the bizarre “patricide” thing (try explaining that one to the working-class immigrant masses, which obviously includes fathers, next door, which THEY NEVER BOTHERED TO ORGANIZE).

To this day, it has never been clarified how STP-LA was “patriarchal.” In fact many STP-LA supporters and a few OVAS were present during some of the last “Unlearning Patriarchy” sessions and were working towards building a women’s defense organization considering the upsurge in sexual assaults in Boyle Heights during the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018. It would have made sense to address criticisms and accusations of “patriarchy” then and there, but instead there were conversations on theory, structure, and tactics and what appeared to be a strengthening of principled unity. Both organizations acted in good faith with one another at that point in time. In fact, all OVAS present agreed with the political development of this project without objections! It wasn’t until the “anti-leader” leader of the OVAS, Xela, brought down the authoritarian hammer when she realized that even the OVAS were finding themselves agreeing with Marxist political lines in those meetings.

The next point the author(s) states is that one of the reasons why the OVAS were kicked out was for identity opportunism, which is correct, but they fail at explaining what this actually is. They claim that being against identity politics is a “tenet of Maoist ideology” and that “identity politics” is seen as a non-politics since it does not build-up to their desired unified Maoist party line.” But what really is identity politics? Does having a class analysis mean that you actively ignore identity? What are some of the distinctions between the two outlooks? For one, a class analysis is not merely chosen, but is fundamental and necessary in understanding capitalism, but more importantly, how to destroy it. The emergence of the capitalist mode of production led to the creation of two major classes that remain in an extremely antagonistic relationship to one another, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In a nutshell, the former produces commodities for the latter, and the latter accumulates surplus value and further concentrates its wealth in its own hands. Because of the working classes oppressive conditions and alienation from its own labor, its concentration in production, its size as a class, and discipline (overall its relation to production), it is the only class capable of leading the destruction of the parasitic capitalist mode of production. Without this basic understanding, the lines of who can and how to destroy capitalism become blurred.

So the question remains: why a rejection of identity politics? While the Marxist understanding of contradiction teaches that there are principal and secondary contradictions, identity politics flattens out the distinctions and equalizes them. This gives the appearance of a leveled playing field and allows one to merely choose where they want to struggle without understanding the root cause of something, such as capitalism, and how this can extend itself into other realms. At worst, it positions social class as an identity, as some of the postmodernists would want to have you believe. This has been the response to the chauvinism of some orthodox Marxists in the past, or even present-day revisionists, which makes these postmodernists super reactive, and even reactionary, by throwing out a class analysis entirely by saying there needs to be a higher focus on gender, ability, size, privilege, skin shade, etc., but it is all political underdevelopment and moralism for trying not to feel so bad. Like a Catholic praying Hail Mary or Our Father prayers as penance after confession, the postmodernist is the weird atheistic version of this, by checking their privilege in meetings or before a speech, like acknowledging this is Native land (a crowd favorite – our author(s) do this by boldly proclaiming that Los Angeles is Tongva territory! Oh, thank you! That’ll teach those silly settlers!), it is nothing but performance, and when you ask them what the solution to these obvious injustices that create these very materially-real privileges for some over others, they will either be honest or they will deflect and tell you to stay in your lane or to pay them – Venmo me, PayPal link in bio!  – like a good little capitalist that they have resorted in being. The point is that class is not an identity, it is a social relation to the means of production and how commodities are made – that is what determines your social relations, it influences everything in society, in all societies on earth, even semi-feudal societies.

Marxism teaches us that there are two steps in the process of gaining knowledge, starting from perceptual knowledge to rational or logical knowledge. Identity politics is stuck in the perceptual knowledge stage where it is observations of contradictions and relations to external things but it doesn’t grasp the development of things, of these identities – or as Mao says about what logical knowledge is “the totality, the essence and the internal relations of things and discloses the inner contradictions in the surrounding world.” Marxism allows us to see the deeper essence of things, that a Chicano, Black, or Indigenous person is brought on by the national oppression by U.S. imperialism, and the reaction of the colonized and nationally-oppressed person is to resist – another fundamental Marxist law, oppression breeds resistance – and in resisting at first they may take on a worldview of only seeing oppression against their nation, but maybe not of the proletariat within the nation. However, this can be developed with a Marxist outlook since it can lead a revolution against the thing that drives colonization and national oppression, imperialism, because imperialism after all is the last stage of capitalism, a system based on the exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class.

Without understanding the root, we will assume that we are attacking the head when we are only fighting the arm. As Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party once noted, racism is a byproduct of capitalism. He understood that solely combating racism and solely organizing around race did not do away with the exploitative system in place. This is why the Panthers often clashed with pork chop cultural nationalists who were all talk when it came to who was Blacker than who, yet promoted capitalism. Today these lessons still ring true. We do not need more Black owned banks, trans politicians, or women cops and ICE agents. We must do away with the capitalist system itself.

The author claims that “identity opportunists” are those who they conceive as using their identity as a way to push an agenda other than Maoism. A topsy-turvy inversion of the notion of identity as a site of varied oppressions.”

But our author, as is their style, doesn’t understand the words they are using, evidently. Identity opportunism is made up of two things: identity and opportunism. An opportunist is someone who lacks firm principles and takes actions or pushes a certain ideological line when it is convenient for them. Identity is used here as the identity of a particular group, often an oppressed or marginalized group. That in and of itself is not bad or wrong, but where these opportunists take it is to a whole other level by making a politics of identity. Identity politics. As the now-concluded Red Guards Austin, the annihilators of identity opportunism, say of identity politics: “As we use it here, the term “identity politics” refers to a method for analyzing the world that puts identity as principal over political line.

An example of an identity opportunist: Someone can say they are anti-police, but can later push for reformist tactics such as trying to reconcile the masses with the police. When confronted, they will say that you cannot criticize them because of their identity whether it is race, gender, etc. While brief, this example highlights that while the line of collaborating with the police is reactionary, people will hold these incorrect positions and deflect by claiming that you are targeting them because of their identity rather than their political line.

So is someone an identity opportunist just because they do not agree with Maoism? No. But is someone an identity opportunist because a Maoist “conceives” them to be using their identity to push a line other than Maoism? At the end of the day, there is no “conceiving.” There is only one or the other, actively using your identity to deflect or not. (For more on the subject of identity politics and identity opportunism, I highly recommend RGA’s “On Identity Opportunism,” where the above quote came from.)

A case in point. The OVAS were never considered identity opportunists for organizing women. In fact there are comrades across the country in revolutionary women’s organizations such as the Popular Women’s Movement-Movimiento Feminino Popular in Austin, Texas, and the Women’s Militant Front in Charlotte, North Carolina. Why the OVAS are called identity opportunists is due to their use of identity to deflect from criticisms and push incorrect ideas. One of the worst examples, as noted in the DBH piece “The Reconstitution of Defend Boyle Heights,” was when Xela “criticized” a comrade for “Columbusing” simply because they were not from Boyle Heights. Funny enough, this comrade was from Puerto Rico, the oppressed nation-colony of the Taínos, the first to be colonized by Columbus, and still under the imperialist domination of the U.S., not that it matters where the comrade is from primarily, but the irony was ridiculous. The error is shown in her attack on this comrade and his identity instead of his politics rather than having principled disagreements over political line. The OVAS politics are contrary to anarchist politics considering that during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930’s, many people from across the world gave their lives to fight the fascists in the International Brigades. That is because the OVAS aren’t really anarchists, but instead postmodernists concealing themselves under a black flag and revealing themselves essentially in being petty cultural pork chops. (For more examples of identity opportunism within the anti-gentrification and Maoist movements, I recommend “Out of the DJ Booths, Into the Streets” by DBH and Defend Our Hoodz-Austin, and “Opportunism vs. Maoism” signed by the Red Guard collectives and other Maoist collectives).

Our author(s) also claims that “predatory recruitment by overt vanguardist organizations” were used. Another blatant lie with zero proof. But first lets breakdown what the author means by “predatory recruitment tactics” since they offer, again, no explanation, or provide examples. Any organization can use such tactics and is in no way a characteristic of “vanguardist” organizations. Anarchist collectives, non-profits, and so forth. An example of predatory recruiting, we are left to assume since the edgy author(s) don’t tell us what it means, could mean an organization actively targeting young women and girls for the sake of the gratification of an individual or individuals. This has never been the case with STP-LA.

If that was the case, the organization would cease to be Maoist and instead of being disciplined, it would become full of individualistic, hedonistic, misogynistic members who lack collective unity and principles. This organization would not practice rectification let alone the need of criticism and self-criticism and instead pursue personal interests by any means. So which is it? Are Maoists “authoritarians” who have too strict of a discipline or “autonomous” self-fulfilling individuals free from the confines of criticism? Pick one and stay consistent.

While the author(s) does however mentions that “predatory recruitment tactics” are “vanguardist” tactics without explaining how, they also go on to mention that “vanguardist entities” are those “which position themselves as the higher authority or specialized professionals in the liberatory movements of oppressed people- the saviors, gatekeepers, proselytizers and managers reproduced in resistance movements.” Once again, the author throws around edgy-sounding words and concepts without fully understanding them and without providing examples.

A vanguard is not merely a group who thinks that they are the “higher authority” or know it all, but instead is an organization led by the most ideologically advanced, led by those who have a thorough understanding of our society, of what it takes to destroy capitalism and build a new future, of mobilizing the masses to their fullest capacities, of creating a tight nit organization which can withstand the blows of repression and lead the masses to victory. And we are speaking only in the Marxist sense of the communist vanguard meaning the most advanced proletarians and the Communists who will lead the revolution against capitalism. Anyone can disagree with this theoretically. That’s fine. But at the very least the author(s) should know the words which he is typing out instead of parroting them from the anti-communist handbook assigned to him in college. Rather than positioning oneself as better, Communists acknowledge that we must elevate the class consciousness of the workers, and this will not happen spontaneously, otherwise capitalism would no longer exist at this moment! (For more on what a vanguard actually is, I recommend the book “What Is To be Done” by Lenin, especially Chapter 2).

Unfortunately, the author continues:

“We oppose predatory behavior and macktivism for the purposes of recruitment, gaining information and access to space and communities, resulting in collectives and spaces feeling infiltrated. Infiltration is not just an overt act from state agents, but tactics used to gain and manipulate information, access and people, by those convinced their own goals outweigh the dynamics it takes to get there (their ends justify their means).” As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Maoist organizations that exist such as STP-LA do not practice macktivism or predatory behavior and if individual members ever did so they would be isolated. But our author(s) isn’t really concerned with pesky truth and evidence. They are being vague because deep down they know things don’t add up – aren’t abusers supposed to be isolated? Mactivists too, right? So, then, who is the macktivist in STP-LA? Was it Xela’s ex? With whom she lived with for years? Was he mactivising her by living with her or something? Is that how it works? No, our author makes no explanation because … IT NEVER HAPPENED. However, an interesting claim of the author is that collectives can “feel” infiltrated. At the end of the day, there is no feeling on this matter. There must be investigation and the conclusion must be that there either is infiltration or there is not. It is not a matter of “feeling.” If it was a matter of feeling, there would not be defining characteristics of what infiltration is, and could easily include a wide array of things based on ones subjective feelings and understanding of what infiltration is to them. This makes a mockery out of state infiltration and infiltration by wreckers and abusive opportunists who seek to destroy organizations and manipulate people for their own ends.

The author(s) fails to provide any examples to back up this claim. I know some context behind STP-LA and the OVAS “community space” LA Conxa. STP-LA had borrowed La Conxa several times in good faith. They never overburdened them with trying to use it all the time, with leaving it dirty, with taking resources and not putting them back, etc. There was always donations made by members and supporters whenever there were internal meetings or open events. It was also asked of all the organizations within DBH at the time to at least host two events each month to help the OVAS maintain the space. So there was no “infiltrating” to take advantage of the space or the collective. While I make no claims of “infiltration” of the OVAS (which would be snitch jacketing), the same good faith was not reciprocated. In fact, Xela was snooping through her former partners’ laptop (the presumed macktivist!?) which is one of the reasons why Xela was criticized in DBH, and from there on out commenced months of internal struggle. Heck, there was even a sit down between Xela, her partner at the time and third parties to try to rectify her destructive behavior, but alas it was pointless.

One might ask if this was just an individual within the organization, why not isolate that one individual. Well, Maoists practice criticism and self-criticism, and we know that people can rectify certain behaviors or actions – but it must be done in a collective setting. There is no criticism or self-criticism or rectification that occurs individually. An organization must be in charge of this process. So, this was attempted in good faith with Xela, but she responded antagonistically, being an identity opportunist and deflecting from criticisms. The reason the entire collective was expelled was because they uncritically backed her up even after evidence was provided to them through email AND in person in internal DBH meetings. Unlike the OVAS, membership of Maoist organizations (including leadership) are not exempt from criticisms, demotion, recall, or potential expulsion. While the OVAS have often (as does this anarchist blog) directed accusations of “authoritarianism” at STP-LA because of its Communist politics (which Communists are proud of having authority over enemies of the people like capitalists), the OVAS somehow adhere to Xela’s leadership dogmatically, never questioning or criticizing her and only accepting her line based of friendship and not politics and investigation. Not only does this expose their liberalism (read “Combat Liberalism” by Chairman Mao), but it shows something more important, that leadership will exist within all organizations, no matter how much one tries to distance themselves from this “authoritarian” concept of leadership. The difference is how it is handled. Leadership can be acknowledged and it can guide an organization. It can be criticized, etc. Or it can be leadership by default which claims that its role does not exist, which does not practice criticism and self-criticism, yet makes all the decisions in an organization based off of that individual and their social clout – or manipulation skills – rather than the collective interest and a shared political line. Xela is an example of the latter. So much for being “anti-authoritarian.”

To conclude, the author(s) makes an appraisal of autonomy yet hardly describes its characteristics or provide examples (the common theme throughout this, this thing, this… metaphysical long-prose petty and pointless document…), as it failed to do so with “left authoriatarianism.” It said: “Ideological divisions exist and have been amplified as the OVAS/Psyco Brigade has developed their commitment to collective autonomy and revolution which leans more toward autonomy, self-organization and a flattening of hierarchies.” Apparently there is no “flattening of hierarchies” within the OVAS considering that anything Xela says goes. And once again, there is no concrete example of what “collective autonomy” or “self-organization” is. There is no plan that the OVAS have in destroying the state (or will they destroy the state through yoga classes, Reiki massages and open mics?).

At the end of they day they are all talk – identity opportunists dressed in black. The ideology of the OVAS, in the absence of a cohesive political thought, is an eclectic metaphysical mix of postmodernism, bourgeois radical-sounding feminism, and cultural nationalism – they have nothing but identities to rally around. It must be concluded after reading this blog entry that the author is angry with the lack of attention their blog gets, that not enough props are given for their hipster-esque graphic design aesthetic; he is writing for the sake of approval of the lefty niche self-congratulatory-while-simultaneously-self-flagellating LA scene.

For anyone who has encountered or worked with Xela and the OVAS, I urge you all to share your stories and reaffirm the line of isolating the OVAS. Investigate and don’t merely accept positions as truth solely because of identity! You are not being a “good male ally” by doing so. You are not being revolutionary by merely repeating anything anyone, even women, say. At best, it is silly. At worst, it is actually patronizing. Do not attend their events. Do not book them for events. Let people know of their antagonistic behaviors and actions. But more importantly, get involved and start organizing and building towards revolution! Stand firmly against identity opportunists and wreckers! And for Chairman Mao’s sake, if you catch the author(s) of this trite blog entry or Ediciones Inéditos, who are most probably aka that one person from L.A. Onda, AKA Lucha No Feik, tell them to put away the Invisible Committee books for crying out loud, Ain’t nobody got time to read that shit!

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Prepare for Struggle: 28th Street Barrio Committee

 As long as the capitalist mode of production continues to exist, it is folly to hope for an isolated solution of the housing question or of any other social question affecting the fate of the workers. The solution lies in the abolition of the capitalist mode of production and the appropriation of all the means of life and labor by the working class itself.

Frederick Engels, “The Housing Question”

We were made aware of the conditions of the apartments from a tenant who had called our number, having heard of the work that we have done before. From an initial investigation of 845 and 812 buildings on East 28th Street, that are owned by slumlord, Charles Quarles, tenants were adamant that something must be done. When a representative of STPLA first showed up to meet with tenants at 812, tenants understood the few options they had; somehow pay $2,300, leave, or stay and fight. All of the tenants in the committee are committed to staying and fighting. The representative then encouraged tenants to canvass the other building and in that instance tenants walked across the street to canvass and speak to other tenants at 845. Well over than fifty percent of the tenants of 845 and 812 were present for the meeting.

With that enthusiasm and will to struggle; the struggle began. The following meetings would be for information gathering as well as making banners and posters. Our members would meet all the tenants, listen, and see all of the things wrong within their apartments. Many had said that these issues have even continued for years! Some of these tenants that have been living in these apartments for decades are now worrying about having a roof over their heads. This is not without cause, in South Central, , fancy hotels and entertainment like the construction of the Bank of America Stadium add to the luxurious development projects that are approved with little hesitancy by council members. With that there’s a cascading effect on surrounding working class renters. Landlords anticipate increases in market price on their properties for increasingly shitty conditions within scarce housing market. These development projects therefore trigger drastic rent increases, to levels that are detrimental to working class tenants.

Tenants told us that they have experienced mold within their apartments, broken garbage disposals that had led to flies coming out the sink, rats and cockroaches, power outages that leave the refrigerators off for enough time to spoil groceries and the complaints go on. But what is the main focus is the rent increase. Charles Quarles is expecting that starting May 1st, tenants start paying $2,300, when their current rent is approximately $800.00-$1,100. During the meeting, posters were made with slogans such as: “Unidos Los Inquilinos Son Fuertes!,” (United Renters are Strong!,) and “Our Community Supports Us!” that later adorned the gates of the apartments. Tenants took initiative on from art making to canvassing, as we watched and learned from them. Tenants explained that the property manager, Corbin Pitts, who is related to Charles, only comes when it is time to collect rent.  After hearing from the tenants we compiled their demands into a letter that was given to the property manager along with their rent, with the order to deliver to Charles. IncendiaryNews covered that meeting of the manager and more on Charles.

To no surprise, the posters that tenants had created were taken down and ripped in half(while many of the tenants were at work) the day after the property manager came. That same day, the manager brought with him perspective buyers of the apartments, a few members and tenants spoke to the buyers about the issues within the apartments and they were met with arrogance and indifference. The tenants, nonetheless, remained vigilant of the buyers and manager that day, fixing signs that were thrown into the trash by manager and putting them back up, even hanging more posters on supportive neighbors’ homes.

 

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Charles attempting to set the location and time of the meeting, turned into a discussion and Q&A.

 

Charles replied to tenants via his mouthpiece Corbin, saying he’ll meet with them. But this meeting he proposed was set up on his terms ignoring the criteria that was specified by the tenants of the 28th St. Barrio Committee. Within our letter it was specified that the meeting with the landlord take place on Friday, April 12 2019 at 7pm in the courtyard of the 812 E 28th Street. Yet, having received our letter Charles was under the impression that he could change the time and location that suited him and to make the meeting into a sort of discussion or Q&A. Everyone in the committee saw through what he tried to do. We followed up to clear things up for him.

The day after we reiterated our demands, tenants received a letter saying that Charles will not meet with the tenants that he is ripping off, because according to manager Corbin, “meeting was too late at night” 7pm is too late at night.

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The response we received after emailing Charles.

 

Charles has put himself into this situation, either come meet with the tenants on Friday or expect a much more blunt greeting to the 28th Street Barrio Committee.

Charles is only one manifestation that is an outcome of capitalism. A landlord class that seeks to make the most profit from their property. While trying to cut corners and provide as little maintenance as possible. After all, he cannot interrupt his profit hungry, mulit-million dollar real estate development firm with such with costly repairs. With gentrification affecting working class neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles, landlords attempt to take advantage of the change of the class character of neighborhoods experiencing gentrification. Landlords either attempt to sale off properties to the highest bidder or pricing out current tenants. Because of capitalism, tenants have to live at the dictates of a capitalist, landlord class. The solution to end this contradiction must be understood, the end of the capitalist mode of production. Charles, as with all other reactionaries, will not fall if we do not hit him. We encourage our supporters and those dedicated to anti-gentrification to call Charles and demand him to meet with the tenants and to stop the rent increase!

Prepare for Struggle!

Comply with the demands! 

 

 

 

Powder Keg: The Migrant Caravan

At the time we are writing this, the majority of the most recent Central American migrant caravan has settled around the US-Mexico border. The group numbers over 7,000 people, many of whom are families. Some of the migrants in the group have decided to stay at shelters in Tijuana while they apply for asylum. Others, most likely discouraged and desponded by the the conditions at the shelters and the sheer inhumanity of the Mexican and US governments, have chosen to either go home or settle elsewhere in Mexico & Central America. But many other migrants – furious, daring, and united  by the hundreds – have attempted to cross the border.

This attempt to cross the border was met with international attention, particularly because of the outright brutality Customs & Border Protection (CBP) displayed against these brave migrants. Pictures of toddlers sprayed with tear gas and screaming in anguish have become famous. on the Internet. We have heard accounts of the migrants (victims of colonization and imperialism) courageously throwing rocks  at the heavily armed front guard of American imperialism, Border Patrol. Although revolutionary news services like Incendiary News have written on these border skirmishes, coverage  has largely been dominated by bourgeois media, politicians, and reformists.

With the exception of certain progressive articles and exposés, bourgeois media has mostly refused to take a stance or provide a real analysis of the caravan. News organizations have settled for more or less publicizing that a migrant caravan does, in fact, exist. Media corporations will point out the obvious – that the migrant caravan is made up of, you guessed it, human beings! – use these human beings for photo ops and clickbait fodder while offering them no actual support, and then pat themselves on the back for their groundbreaking and innovative journalism. Meanwhile, bourgeois politicians in the Democratic Party are opportunistically using the tear gas attacks on families and children to pretend that they care about immigrants and attack their rhetorical rivals (but ideological twins) in the GOP. Of course, they conveniently ignore that it was their own Deporter in Chief who expanded the budget for immigration enforcement by over 300%, more than doubled the number of people being federally prosecuted for re-entry in just two years, and oversaw more deportations than any other president. And the liberal reformists, who pretend to care so desperately for the migrants and their plight, have done little more than wring their hands, pander to bourgeois laws on seeking asylum, and march performatively. (We have it on good word from comrades on the ground that while migrants and their allies on the Mexico side of the border were militantly facing down the fascist Border Patrol and doused with tear gas, activists on the San Diego side spent at most twenty minutes near the border checkpoint).

None of these groups will help the migrants. Bourgeois media, politicians, and reformists all ultimately serve the bourgeoisie and capitalism. And it is capitalism which created the migrant caravan in the first place. As much as liberals would want you to believe that immigrants are running to America in pursuit of “liberty” and “justice”, nothing could be further from the truth. These people did not leave behind their homes, their families, their friends, and their lives because they wanted to come to America. They did so because they had to leave. They were forced to flee because of the conditions created by capitalism, but principally imperialism, which is the highest stage of capitalism.

As we will discuss in this paper, forced migration is principally a problem of capitalist-imperialism. The only way to resolve both the involuntary migration of oppressed masses and end their brutalization and exploitation is to destroy capitalist-imperialism. Because Serve the People Los Angeles (STPLA) is a revolutionary mass organization which places Maoist politics in command, we are fully committed to the destruction of capitalism and the liberation of all oppressed peoples of the world. We also know that capitalism will not fall of its own accord. Chinese revolutionary, Chairman Mao Zedong teaches us that everything reactionary is the same. It will not fall unless you hit it.

History has shown us that the way in which we hit is very important. We cannot strike blows in any which direction and at random. Nor can we strike once and see our enemy fall permanently. No single hit can be that strong. To see our enemies fall, we must tirelessly hit them from every angle as hard as we can. Like all successful wars, our war against capitalism will be protracted, meaning it will take place over a period of time. It will also be a people’s war, meaning the oppressed masses will make up the army, that this army will fight for the interests of the oppressed masses, and that it will carry out the mass line, which we will expand on later in this paper.

Since STPLA works primarily with the immigrant masses of Los Angeles and is, at the moment, based in Boyle Heights, most of the masses we work with are from Latin America and many are undocumented. So we have much to gain from analyzing the migrant caravan and linking it with mass work aimed at revolution.

It is important to say that we applaud and deeply admire the fearlessness and militancy of the most recent migrant caravan, as well as the fearlessness and dedication of all migrant caravans! Even unorganized, the masses are endlessly courageous and a force to be reckoned with. It is our job and the job of all other revolutionary organizations to organize them to their full potential, to guide them in smashing capitalism and oppression on Earth.


UNDERSTANDING THE CARAVAN

The most recent migrant caravan has received the most attention of any migrant caravan this year. This migrant caravan is not the first of its kind but it is perhaps the biggest caravan yet. This is particularly important for two reasons. First, this migrant caravan was not organized by NGOs or nonprofits but by the migrants themselves. Volunteers with Pueblo Sin Fronteras – a progressive organization which organizes caravans and provides them with logistic and legal support – have called this caravan an exodus, citing the desperate conditions in Central America (particularly Honduras, where the caravan began) as pushing an unprecedented amount of migrants to not only brave the journey to the US, but to organize themselves. These masses firmly grasp the necessity of unity in making what was once impossible, possible. They have organized an unprecedented amount of people to defend each other against common enemies. This is deeply commendable and speaks to the heroism, creativity, and ingenuity of the masses.

Second, the size of this caravan is most likely not an anomaly but represents a growing trend. The objective conditions of the migrants in the caravan have worsened significantly over time and they will continue to worsen as capitalism decays and imperialist plunder worsen. It is much more likely than not that we will see similarly sized if not larger caravans in the near future. The Mexican revolutionary communist organization Corriente del Pueblo Sol Rojo explains thoroughly how capitalism has always relied on forced migration here. They state:

In reality, from a scientific and historic position, capitalism arose precisely from the emigration of the labor force available for the accumulation of capital, something which the xenophobes easily forget. Since capitalism has existed, emigration has never stopped flowing. Migration always has been and is a constant in capitalism, the most brutal form of the mobility of the waged workforce.

Capitalism could not exist without the destruction of the commons and the ruling classes seizing land from the peasants. It was only when the peasants (producers and farmers) were separated from their means of production (the land) that they could proletarianize, meaning that they no longer worked to sustain themselves but to enrich capitalists). Since most people no longer had access to land that they could use to feed themselves, they had to work for a wage that they could use to survive. To do so, they had to find a capitalist to employ them. But not only is capitalism, by its very definition, unstable, it requires that there are more workers than jobs so that workers, competing for jobs, can be paid as cheaply as possible. When the supply of a product exceeds its demand, its prices will invariably become lower. If there are more workers than are needed by capitalists, their labor will essentially be sold for less.

So a surplus population of workers who cannot find work will always emerge. We have seen that this happen rapidly in countries that are developing capitalism, where peasants are violently pushed off of their land and forced to labor for a wage. They must migrate to wherever they can find wages in order to survive. Countries developing capitalism (most of which are former colonies) contain the vast majority of the people on Earth and have large surplus populations.

This means that forced migration is inevitable. As long as capitalism exists, migrant caravans will exist. This is an objective fact that helps us better understand the exodus of migrants from Central America. However, we must also understand that these migrants are oppressed by a specific type of capitalism, which is imperialism. Imperialism hyper-exploits workers in third-world countries and depletes these countries of their natural resources. Since the 1800s, US imperialism has plundered the countries of Latin America and oppressed the masses of people within these countries.

1. Imperialism & Forced Migration in Central America

Through mass organizing primarily in Latin American communities, we have seen that working-class and undocumented immigrants have an advanced understanding of US imperialism. Many of the masses we work with understand clearly how imperialism oppresses their native countries. Many of the tenants at Pleasant Avenue specifically spoke at length about how countries in Latin America were poor because of colonization and US imperialism. They understood clearly how US imperialism operated. This is because they have directly experienced imperialism and many of them came to the United States to flee its effects.

The same is true for refugees pushed out of their respective countries in Central America, mostly Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. US imperialism has devastated whole countries through imperialist economic policies and general economic plunder. These policies have flooded oppressed markets with US goods, enforced stagnating wages, crippled social services, and unleashed nearly unregulated free-trade policies. There are entire tax-free industries and there is virtually no recognition of minimum wage and labor rights. The US acts as if it has total dominion over these oppressed countries, so much so that it will unseat or murder any politician who poses even a minimal threat to their domination. Zelaya, the former Honduran left-of-center president was unseated by US-backed coup because of the far-left radical reforms he introduced, reforms as far-reaching and anti-US as…providing free education for children & subsidies to small farmers. US imperialism is so hyper-exploitative that it mistakes reformists for revolutionaries. (Interestingly enough, Zelaya’s removal & the fraudulent installation of conservative candidates contributed immensely to the mass exodus of Hondurans.)

Because of this hyper-exploitation, the masses in these countries are quite literally pushed to the margins. They represent the decrepit, closing-circle nature of imperialism popularized in the saying “The chickens have come home to roost.” Imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism. It cannot go any further. The US capitalists have off-shored and outsourced large percentages of industries that, instead of raising up living standards and wages in third world countries, have secured them like contemporary colonies. If an oppressed nation isn’t ravaged by war, it is ravaged by imperialist plunder and capitalist crises. The working people of the US also feel the effects of imperialism. This is evident in the mass layoffs of workers due to companies outsourcing to countries with cheaper labor. The economic crisis of imperialism are actually choking the US and benefit only the richest of the US capitalists. In the long run, imperialism does not benefit the masses and, in fact, the masses have a vested interested in smashing imperialism.

The migrant caravan is a visible representation of what US imperialist plunder and domination looks like for the masses of Latin America. The majority of the migrant caravan comes from the oppressed and exploited classes of Central America: Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. (Although we haven’t heard much about Nicaraguan immigrants, it can be assumed that they too have been represented in caravans due to the crackdown of the revisionist Ortega regime on popular uprisings in Nicaragua).

The Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin wrote that revolutions happen when the people and the capitalists can no longer go on living the way they had been. We can see this clearly with the Central American masses. It isn’t only the thousands of people in caravans who can no longer live as they have been living; it is also the millions of Central Americans left behind. They have been pushed to change their material conditions. Whether this is through an upsurge is popular uprisings at home or the organization of the largest migrant caravan to the United States, the Central American masses refuse to live as they had been.

In the absence of revolutionary leadership organizes the masses to overthrow all that oppresses them through revolution, many Central Americans can only attempt to escape the misery and oppression they face. Nonetheless, there is a strong and deep-rooted progressive character within the Central American masses who have witnessed and often even fought in People’s Wars waged for national liberation and socialism. The oppressed people of Central America have tasted revolution, even if the trauma of this revolution and the betrayal of the revisionists have left a lingering bitter taste in their mouth. They know the future that awaits us and have much to teach us.

But they are rarely seen as teachers. With imperialism and colonization comes national chauvinism, which has particularly been hurled against Central American migrants. While imperialism pushes migrants out of their countries, national chauvinism justifies the brutality they face when fleeing to other countries.

2. National Chauvinism & the Brutalization of Migrants

National chauvinism has reared its ugly head on both the Mexican and US sides of the border. Mexicans in Tijuana especially have taken to social media in ridiculing the migrant caravan, hurling racial attacks on the Central American masses. A video of a Honduran woman complaining about food has been treated as if it is an unforgivable national offense (but who cares if she doesn’t like beans – there are thousands of Chicanos who also don’t like beans!). Salvadoran masses have been called and treated as if they are MS-13 gang members, a racist generalization which mirrors Trump’s own racist attacks on Mexicans and the “bad hombres” he wants to deport. There are many more instances like these.

But the most disgusting and offensive sector of Mexicans in Tijuana came in the form of Nazi Mexicans marching on the streets. Just as Nazis in America wave American flags and demand that Mexicans leave, Mexicans waved Mexican flags and demanded Central Americans leave. The fact that the reactionary elements of the Mexican masses felt emboldened enough to march openly in the streets and that no reports (that we are aware of) have been made of Mexican Communists or the masses attacking these Nazis, is deeply troubling.

Chauvinism and white supremacy on the US side of the border are expected. The crimes of the fascist law enforcement, especially Border Patrol and ICE  been recorded by news sites such as The Guardian and Incendiary News. Because CBP are offered greater leeway than even local US police (who routinely get away with murdering black and brown children), the US border has become a testing ground for barbaric and sadistic crimes against the people.

Civilian fascists have been even more emboldened in recent years. They openly march in the streets (though the cowards are almost always protected by their pig friends) and repeat racist lies about “illegals” and crime and white genocide. They also routinely commit hate crimes, ranging from assaults to murders to racially motivated mass shootings and have special squads like the Oath Keepers that exist specifically patrol borders. Fascist politicians and commentators have defended even the tear gassing of children.

Of course, solidarity has also been shown on both sides of the border, particularly the Mexico side. Throughout the caravan’s journey, working class Mexicans have overwhelmingly and selflessly provided food, water, clothing, and other forms of support to the migrants.Meanwhile, affluent Mexicans have been spearheading racist attacks against migrants. (In instances like this, we see that the idea that working-class people are more likely to be xenophobic or racist is demonstrably false)

Similarly, progressive sectors of the masses in the US have spent significant time and effort collecting and delivering supplies. Immigrants and non-immigrants alike, including comrades of ours, have traveled to Tijuana to stand side by side with the migrants facing down CBP. Many have been tear-gassed as well.

It is important to understand that national chauvinism is an integral aspect of capitalism and it is aggravated when capitalism is in crisis. It is used by capitalists to justify the most heinous of crimes committed against the most vulnerable of the nationally oppressed masses. To combat national chauvinism, we must differentiate between chauvinism amongst the people that can be combatted non-antagonistically and chauvinism which is anti-people and must be combatted with revolutionary violence. We must organize the masses around the basis of class, reinforcing militant anti-racism. In the United States, race has historically been used to divide the working-class and misdirect their anger. For example, tenants we have worked with have made racist comments about Asians. This was immediately corrected and the tenants united with the correction, understanding that no one should be attacked on the basis of race but on the role they play in exploitation.

We cannot use the same approach for racists and fascists who view nationally oppressed people as less than human. They are enemies of the people and must be treated as such. Anyone who believes that children deserve to be tear-gassed for being “illegal” deserves to feel the wrath of revolutionaries.

3. The Heroism of the Masses 

Stories spread by fascists about the migrants deserving to be tear-gassed because they “launched projectiles” against CBP are largely false and intensely exaggerated. However, the masses facing down CBP did defend themselves by hurling rocks at border patrol agents. They were not helpless and innocent victims without any agency. Lacking revolutionary leadership, lacking real weapons, lacking the numbers to match the border patrol agents – lacking all of this, the masses still refused to be beaten down. They held their heads high in defiance and fought back.

President Gonzalo of the Communist Party of Peru writes:

Since ancient times, the masses have been subjected to exploitation and oppression. They have always rebelled, it is a long and inexhaustible history

If the fascist commentators were correct and the migrant masses had thrown more than just rocks at the fascist border patrol agents who routinely terrorize, imprison, torture, and kill Central American migrants, we would fully support the masses. In fact, we would think even higher of them and praise their courage and resilience. It is correct to defend yourself and your people against reactionary enemies by any means necessary.

We are inspired by the masses who took part in the migrant caravan. The initiative they took in organizing the caravan, the unity that they showed with one another, their tireless resilience in marching forward, and the militancy of those who marched to the border checkpoint – all of this only reaffirms to us that the masses are the true heroes and that they are the makers of history. If they are capable of this much unorganized, what can they do when organized and united by revolutionary organizations? Without the masses, we are weak and can never win. But with the masses, we can shake the very earth. It is our duty to lead the masses, to transform them into soldiers for their class, capable of seizing power. The principal way to accomplish this goal is through mass work.

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One of the dozen reoccurring confrontations between day laborers, majority comprised of super-exploited migrants, and state police, San Quintin, May 9 2015

NECESSITY OF MASS WORK

In Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, the undocumented immigrant masses number over 1 million. In all of Serve the People’s work, they are the majority. They are the working-class tenants fighting against their landlords, the mothers and fathers fighting for public education, the students putting their bodies and futures at risk to fight law enforcement and ICE.

The majority of the undocumented immigrants in the US are part of the masses; they are of the oppressed and exploited classes and sectors of Latin America, pushed over into the US. They share much in common with the migrants attempting to cross the border right now because they too are victims of imperialism.

However, not all undocumented immigrants are working-class or small petite-bourgeoisie. Some are affluent and some are even reactionary Trump supporters. These would constitute the backwards of the masses because, despite their backwards ideas, they are still oppressed by US imperialism and have a material interest in revolution. (Of course, the reactionary and fascistic elements of these backwards masses must be isolated.)

Our analysis of the migrant caravans shows that both forced migration and the brutalization of migrants (and undocumented immigrants) arise principally from capitalism-imperialism. So we must address the issue at its root. If we attempt to provide scattered and unorganized on-the-ground support every time a migrant caravan arrives and leave it at that, we will fail to protect the migrants every single time because it is much easier for the US government to heavily arm and fortify the border than it is for us to mobilize the massive amounts of people it would take to rush and overwhelm the border. Also, non-strategic and spontaneous on-the-ground support do not solve the root problem of capitalism.

We believe that the only way to resolve the linked oppression of undocumented immigrants and migrants is through the destruction of capitalism. The only way to destroy capitalism is through a revolution or a Protracted People’s War. The only army capable of waging and winning a Protracted People’s War is a People’s Army. And the only way to build up the People’s Army is through the Communist Party and the United Front. These are not the bogeymen that your history professors and the liberals and conservatives would have you believe. Historically, this is how revolutions are won. And the Party, the Army and the United Front use the mass-line method of leadership.

The mass line understands that the masses are segmented. There are advanced sectors of the masses, who must be brought up to be revolutionaries and soldiers, there are intermediate sectors of the masses, who must be brought up to the advanced, and there are backwards sectors, who must be brought up to the intermediate. As we have mentioned, within the backward, there are reactionary elements which must be isolated and seen as enemies of the people. For example, a working-class fascist might materially have the same interests as the basic masses but, because they are a fascist, they are a reactionary class traitor and, in fact, are an enemy of the people.

If we are patient and principled in transforming the masses, even the most backwards can be brought up and transformed into revolutionaries. We have already seen qualitative leaps with some of our mass members, who have developed more progressive ideas and expressed, repeatedly, the need for people to be brave and stand up for what is right. We cannot force our ideas upon the masses; we cannot command them to do what we want because that will ultimately result in failure. The mass line goes “from the masses, to the masses”. We do not solve the problems we think need to be solved but listen to the problems addressed to us by the masses. We must act in accordance to the objective needs of the masses, not to what we think are the needs of the masses. But our actions should be governed by our ideology and by our goal, which are revolution and the destruction of capitalism, the generator of all oppression. This means we cannot tail behind the masses, follow them for the sake of following them or do whatever they want to do. It’s paternalistic to not criticize the masses, to not challenge their ideas. They are not fragile and weak. They are strong and courageous!

Undocumented immigrants will not transform into soldiers against imperialism in one day. Like everything in life, transformation is a protracted process. What we must do is draw out the progressive elements in the masses by tirelessly fighting side-by-side with them, using the most revolutionary methods that they are ready for. If we prove that we are devoted, that our methods are correct, and that we will correct our inevitable mistakes through criticism and self-criticism, we will win them over. If they are won over, if they are being transformed into leaders, if we are arming them physically and ideologically, then they themselves will be the revolutionary force which fights oppression. They will compromise the base of the People’s Militias, under the leadership of the People’s Army.

Here in Los Angeles, we have seen a glimpse of how a revolutionary people’s army can look like with the Unidades de Defensa Populares Revolucionarias. It would be foolish to say that the UDPR is an actual People’s Army since we are not currently fighting a revolution and the UDPR doesn’t appear to be carrying out fully guerrilla or mobile warfare attacks. But we believe that we have read and heard enough to conclude that they are seriously engaged in the project of transforming the immigrant masses into soldiers. In their polemic against SB 946, they write about the ever-increasing bravery of the masses

With the guidance of the UDPR and with ever-increasing unity among themselves, the immigrant street vendor masses are learning to unleash the revolutionary potential of their hatred. The same vendors who used to sprint away from the pigs (trembling furiously, pulling heavy carts with boiling oil and children with tears running down their faces) now lead jeers against the pigs. More and more, they do not run away. They stand their ground. They scream at the pigs, openly shame the pigs and pull their carts back from the pigs by force. If their voices waver, it is with passion. If they cry, it is with fury.

The articles written by Incendiary News also show the rapid transformation of the street vendors. It seems that, in the matter of months, street vendors have gone from sprinting away from the pigs to standing their ground resolutely. Incendiary News reported that on the very same day a vendor was arrested by the pigs for confronting them, other street vendors bravely confronted the police and essentially pushed them out of  a city park.

If UDPR has seen such rapid transformation in months, we can only assume it is because they are correctly practicing mass line. As a revolutionary mass organization which also works with undocumented immigrants to organize them for revolution, we stand in full support of UDPR. We believe that their militant work, work that refuses to give an inch to the pigs and other enemies of the people, will illuminate the path forward to revolution and liberation.

WE CANNOT SMASH IMPERIALISM WITHOUT MASS WORK AIMED AT BUILDING A PEOPLE’S ARMY

We cannot talk about organizing the masses of undocumented immigrants without talking about revolutionary defense and offense. We cannot talk about mass work with anyone without talking about the concept of militarization. The undocumented immigrant masses should be violent against their oppressors – principally U.S. imperialism, secondarily the imperialist-aligned settler-colonialist citizenry and lastly against the most reactionary elements of the masses.

We see the U.S. armed attacks on the unarmed masses of immigrants, especially on women and children. Soldiers fired tear gas grenades and rubber bullets at the Central American masses because a minority was attempting to breach the border. At least one serious injury has been reported, initially the woman or young girl was said to have been killed but it has not been confirmed. Other reports state a mother was impaled in front of her children while climbing over the border fence.

While the immigrants are courageous, only strategically retreating but generally staying put, they have no defense. There’s a saying: without a People’s Army, the People have nothing. The masses of the Migrant Caravan are a powder keg. The only thing missing is the spark. The spark of the People’s Army guided by revolutionary leadership and mass support. The Migrant Caravan is severely suffering in the absence of revolutionary leadership that can convert their rage and aspirations into a militarized forces not only capable of coming head to head with the U.S. soldiers guarding the border but to win! The most important lesson here is that revolutionaries must always be with the masses. We must always be organizing and militarizing them and ourselves. We must be in constant preparation for armed conflict with the state and not lose sight of the coming revolution ahead of us.

Free the UDPR 2!

If you see this and are not moved to righteous rage, you are no ally or comrade to the working-class immigrant street vendors. Act now! Rise up! Fight back!

On Sunday September 23rd, two of our comrades were arrested by California Highway Patrol, particularly the overly-hostile and belligerent officer K. Cardoza, for standing up for street vendors at Exposition Park in the Rose Garden in Los Angeles. We urge our supporters to donate and share this link so that they can be released!

Free the UDPR 2!

Officer Cardoza was acting foolishly, as if her ego was hurt that vendors and masked revolutionaries would dare to defend their personal property from being illegally confiscated. They particularly pointed out the two comrades!

They are currently being held at LAPD’s 77th Street Community Police Station at 7600 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90003. Their phone number is (323) 786-5077. We encourage our supporters to call and demand the release of these defenders! They did nothing wrong. It is right to rebel!

Our comrades, two committed and courageous supporters of Serve the People – Los Angeles and the People’s Revolutionary Defense Units (In Spanish, Unidades de Defensa Populares Revolucionarias or UDPR), did nothing other than defend the street vendors from having their property stolen by the Department of Health of the Los Angeles County!

We repeat: our comrades only defended the rights of vendors selling food. No drugs. No harm. Nothing. Simply selling food like hot dogs and sodas to people going to the park and LA Coliseum.

Street vendors were brutally detained, including a mother and her young daughter, to the shock and disgust of the witnessing masses at the park.

Stand up for street vendors and revolutionaries!

If you see this and are not moved to righteous rage, you are no ally or comrade to the working-class immigrant street vendors. Act now! Rise up! Fight back!

Please donate to our Go Fund Me campaign for bail and legal expenses.: https://www.gofundme.com/free-the-comrades#

#FreeTheUDPR2

This is just some of the pictures from today that show the brutality of these pigs and their LA County class traitors:

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These are all LA County Department of Health class traitors literally benefiting off of the destruction and oppression of their fellow workers, the street vendors, at Exposition Park. They are enemies of the people. More info coming soon.

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This is Peter Lee with the Department of Health of LA County who also proudly drives around the County mini van and truck stealing vendors’ property. He is an enemy of the people and should not be spared the fury of the masses.

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#FreeTheUDPR2

GLADIS IS FREE!

GLADIS IS FREE

 

As of this past Wednesday Gladis Areli Hernandez Amaya was released from Adelanto Immigration Detention Center. She is free!
She is now, finally after nearly three months, reunited with her family and friends. Read the Incendiary News article about her case and community support here.
However, we still need to keep fundraising for bonds and lawyer expenses that her family must still pay off. To donate, we will provide the link below.
While this campaign was successful, this was just one aspect of a larger project. There are countless others are being detained and deported, separated from their families, and even being violently abused in these so called detention centers which are really prisons for undocumented immigrants. No amount of reforms or lip service to “abolishing” ICE will stop the fascist lapdogs of the U.S. from terrorizing our communities and separating families.
This is where we come in. STPLA supported the People’s Revolutionary Defense Units, or in Spanish, las Unidades de Defensa Populares Revolucionarias (UDPR). The goal as we have said previously is not merely to shame ICE or to just film them or even just stop a van, but to literally stop them in their tracks and make sure they no longer come into our communities by any means necessary.
At the moment, street vendors from where Gladis was kidnapped are constantly being harassed by pigs and under the constant threat of ICE (the state pigs work hand in hand with them). We call on all revolutionary and progressive forces who are serious about stopping ICE to not only support the vendors, but to also take the necessary steps in escalating the war against ICE.
To donate, click below:

Libertad Para Gladis- Rally Summation

Reformists have told us time and time again that revolution will never kick off here because the masses do not want violence. We know that the reality is that these reformists do not want violence, that they are terrified, and that they want to project this fear onto the masses. The masses, who are beaten down and attacked in every aspect of their lives by the capitalist state and its friends in arms, might be hesitant of militancy at first. But as the contradictions sharpen, as the people transform, and as we prove our loyalty to them, this hesitation crumbles.

Gladis Areli Hernandez Amaya, an undocumented working class mother, was abducted by state authorities on July 7th,2018 under the pretext of selling hotdogs in an undesignated area near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. After arresting her, state police unnecessarily handed her over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, ICE. Gladis and her family live in Bakersfield and would drive down to South Central LA to make a living as hot dog vendors. Today Gladis is being held in the private ICE detention center in Adelanto. Her husband, Ernesto, and family have stopped selling hot dogs because they fear another police encounter like Gladis’ which has put her in imminent danger of deportation and, consequently, separation from her family. STPLA has launched a campaign in support of Gladis. We have had numerous fundraisers and an action in solidarity with her, which this summation goes over. (Gofundme link: https://www.gofundme.com/free-gladis-from-ice-detention)

Gladis’ case is only part of a larger problem that is fundamental to capitalism and imperialism, specifically in the United States. The US is an imperialist empire which is willing to exhaust all of its resources to protect capital, at home and overseas. ICE is a white supremacist and fascistic organization which exists primarily to protect the US establishment and capital.

The white capitalist ruling class has historically used white supremacy to remain in power. Capitalism needs competition and division; white supremacy helps create antagonisms which force workers to compete against each other for work (which is made all the more limited by imperialist outsourcing), while dividing workers on lines of race so they do not unite against their common enemy, which is the capitalist.

US migration policy is primarily dictated by capitalism; more people are allowed in when the need for a super-exploitable labor force is higher, less are allowed in when it is lower. Although immigration policy is dictated by capitalism, it is still shaped and reinforced by white supremacy – the most exploited immigrants have always been working-class immigrants of color. White supremacy is a dominant aspect of ICE and border patrol. White supremacy is rooted in the US and capitalism by default; the only way to fight it is by destroying the US and capitalism.

We do not merely seek to “ABOLISH ICE” because we know ICE will spring up again, re-branded and repackaged as capitalism does so well. We seek, instead, to ABOLISH THE US. With that, we abolish the constant reproduction of fascistic forces like ICE under different names. We aim to destroy ICE, to fight it with fire, by militarizing the masses and aiming to end the system that bred ICE and the pigs in the first place.

We understand that ICE is a modern-day Gestapo, kidnapping mothers, fathers, and children, denying them the basic necessities, often forcing them to manual labor, and keeping them in cages. As we have stated before, ICE and white supremacy can only be fully smashed once capitalism is. However, this does not mean we will ignore ICE. ICE is a site of sharp contradictions and growing antagonisms between working class immigrants and the state. This is why STPLA supports the Unidades de Defensa Populares Revolucionarias, or People’s Revolutionary Defense Units to fight ICE. Our campaign in solidarity with Gladis is a step forward in building these units. While it is incredibly important to stand in solidarity with people kidnapped by ICE and to give them everything that we can, we recongize that the problem must be attacked at its root. Our ultimate goal is to make ICE feel more terrified than they make undocumented immigrants feel. We want to terrorize them to the point that they refuse to enter foot in our neighborhoods and communities because they know they will be in danger. When we say we want to fight ICE with fire, we mean fire.

This protest was a step forward in achieving that vision and building up our ICE defense units.  

STPLA members arrived around 1 pm to canvass around MLK and Figueroa. We had flyers on Gladis’ case, description of what happened and had a link to donate to the fundraiser. We then informed them that we’d be having the rally at 6 pm. Overwhelmingly people were receptive, while we ran into a handful that were antagonistic, with one person supporting ICE. At 4 pm more of STPLA as well as Undeportables supporters began to show up. We would be joined by Defend North East Los Angeles (DNELA) supporters later in the rally, we appreciate those that came out. Now, too much time was idly wasted by standing around, continuously doing outreach within the area, but this relates to lack of organization that will be expanded on later. Around 5:30 pm more individuals showed up and were given bandannas. Some people were finally designated to pass out flyers and speak to passerbys about why we were there.

Around 6 pm we began to consolidate and make our move to the stadium. We chanted as we marched to the stadium entrance with mass supporters, all with their faces covered with red STPLA bandannas. That’s where more participation occurred, a vendor shouting “Sheriffs y la ciudad, que se vayan a la verga!” (Sheriffs and the city, go to hell!) While at the main entrance an STPLA supporter gave a speech demanding the release of Gladis and an end to the attacks against the undocumented working class families. The event was covered at length by Incendiary News,  but we would like to go in depth about the shortcomings.

“All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.”

-Mao Tse-Tung

As an organization dedicated to serving the masses, we know that we must reflect on every protest, action, and campaign. Without reflecting, without knowing what we have done correctly and incorrectly, we cannot move forward or grow. It is only with this knowledge that we can criticize, self-criticize, and transform ourselves and our organization to better serve the people and build for revolution. This is why we write summations – for us to reflect and for comrades outside of STPLA to learn from these reflections so that they can unite with we have done correctly and avoid repeating what we have done incorrectly. With that being said, these are our main takeaways from the protest:

  1. Lack of clear and assertive leadership

Throughout the protest, we consistently ran into problems primarily because we lacked clear and assertive leadership. The majority of us had not been assigned clear tasks for the march. Additionally, most comrades were hesitant to take initiative and did not give clear or direct orders when they needed to. Not only did this hesitancy make us look weak and ineffectual, there were several times where it could have put us or the masses in unnecessary danger. For example, at the very beginning of the protest, we hesitated to take charge and actually begin marching. Although members were displaying the organizational banners and flags, we stood on the street corner with mass members and supporters for fifteen minutes because no one was giving direct orders on how and when to proceed. Finally, orders were given, general tasks were assigned and we proceeded.

We can only imagine how we would have looked to outsiders. A group of masked individuals standing on – not taking or occupying – a sidewalk, haphazardly holding signs and conversing among themselves while others stared blankly ahead, is hardly an image that would inspire our allies or terrify our enemies.

This type of thing happened over and over again. Because there was no clearly assigned leadership giving orders and assessing situations, members who had ideas or suggestions would run from one comrade to the next, asking for their input on everything from mass members holding the signs to taking the streets. Again, this was ineffective, wasted a lot of time, and left the masses vulnerable and confused about what we were doing and what was happening next.

We have criticized ourselves for the lack of leadership at this protest and taking steps to rectify. We see two clear solutions to this problem that must be executed in conjunction with each other.

First, we need a clear, official, democratically elected leadership to assign tasks and give orders. STPLA has not and will not reject the principal of leadership – in fact, we know that it is a tactical and ideological necessity, especially during actions. Can we take an hour to sit down and reach a democratic consensus on escape routes when we are running from the pigs? No! Every revolutionary organization needs predetermined leadership that is seasoned and trained, that can make correct decisions quickly, that can guide the masses and the organization, that can maintain the revolutionary line, and that can be held accountable and criticized by all. Without this leadership, organizations will either devolve into tyranny imposed by an unofficial, and unaccountable leadership, or fall into a fumbling chaos, where nobody knows what to do and nothing ever gets done. With this understanding, we are in the process of electing leadership and solving part of the problem. We must move fiercer toward centralism.

Second, we must develop all of our comrades to become leaders themselves. They must learn to assert themselves, to criticize ruthlessly and freely, to take charge and issue orders when necessary and, above all, have the courage and knowledge necessary to guide the masses.

It is a practical necessity that every member of STPLA develops into a leader. We know that state repression is an inevitable reaction to revolutionary organizing. We know that STPLA has already been targeted, stalked, and spied on by pigs for its revolutionary organizing. We know that as STPLA grows stronger, the state will look to tear it down in any way that they can. And we know that this will include decimating our members, generally through imprisonment. We have seen this happen in the past year, with Comrade Dallas and students supporters of Progressive Youth Organization – Kansas City, who have been charged with fabricated crimes and arrested (To donate or support, click here). If we do things right, we will see comrades arrested and repressed.

So we must train every comrade in STPLA to become a leader and be ready to take on a leadership role when this happens. This includes mass members we are integrating into STPLA. All revolutionary organizations should aim to do the same because it is the only way to replenish our ranks and ensure the organization lives on.

Leaders are not born from the womb but from class struggle. We are confident that as we continue to struggle alongside the masses, we will forge ourselves into leaders.

  1. Disorganization

This protest was particularly disorganized. We created signs with kids and older community members dedicated to Gladis a week prior but failed to use them. As stated before, we were not completely sure of how and when to start. We did not have a discipline and well-organized formation, so there were pockets of space where protesters were left vulnerable to clutches of the pigs. Chants were disorganized and sporadic at times. In the beginning, most of the protesters and even some of us in the rear of the march did not know what was being chanted and did not chant along for that reason. We had two megaphones but failed to bring both. There were sometimes long stretches of time in between chants. We were not clear about how to proceed and how, if and when we would take the streets.

All of this led the masses very vulnerable to being attacked and/or kidnapped by pigs during the march. We are very lucky that this did not happen. However, as revolutionaries, we know better than to count on luck and the stupidity of our enemies. Again, this is why we analyze our mistakes.

We understand that this disorganization had two aspects to it. Primarily, it stemmed from a lack of clear and assertive leadership. This created the secondary aspect, which was a lack of effective planning for the march. Had there been a formal leadership, they could have delegated tasks, ensured that we had definite plans for how to go forward, and created formations for the march. However, there was no formal leadership, so the burden to plan the entire march fell on two or three people who had to convey everything to the rest of the members. These two aspects can be resolved in one swipe and only stress the necessity for assertive leadership.

  1. Failure to integrate ourselves with the masses

When we began the protest, we were not consistently physically integrated among the masses – although this was a task assigned to many core STPLA members, that each of us be close to mass members at all times. But at times, we were disorganized and clumped relatively close to each other. As a result, we could not clearly communicate with the masses about what we were doing and about what they should be doing. Not only did this leave the masses vulnerable, but it weakened our cause and could have potentially damaged our relationship with the mass members who came out to our protest.

However, we resolved this by the end of the protest. Although we started off with many of the masses staying silent as we chanted, we ended with them showing off their militancy and courage. They, too, unleashed their hatred of pigs and ICE as did we, ignored orders given by the pigs at the Coliseum, and even initiated their own specific calls for revolutionary violence against Los Angeles County vans that confiscated street vendors’ equipment. We saw the overwhelming majority of the masses, most masked up, take the streets without hesitation.

If we are not near the masses, we are apart from them. We know now that we must physically be spread out among the masses and that we cannot simply command them from one point to another. We need to engage them, give them tasks to do and roles to fulfill.

DEVELOPMENTS:

  1. The growing militancy of the masses

Despite our criticisms, we would consider this to be one of the most successful protests that we have had. This is because of the increasing militancy of the masses, principally. The masses proved themselves to be the true heroes, capable of boundless creativity. They never hesitated and, at points, were two steps ahead of us with their militancy.

Before the protest, we had printed out extra STPLA bandannas for everyone attending. We explained to everyone there why it was so important to cover their faces. Nearly every person in attendance had a bandanna, including children. We see this as a progressive development in spreading security culture and preparing the masses for the reality of state repression. 

 

The street vendors that showed up in solidarity with Gladis were among the most militant of the protesters. They led their own chants against the pigs and ICE, eagerly took up road flares as we passed them out, holding them high and defiantly in the face of the pigs, and called for revolutionary violence against local government. This call for revolutionary violence was one of the high points of the march. The street vendors understood very clearly who their friends and enemies were. The mass links we are establishing with the oppressed and persecuted street vendors are some of the strongest and most trustworthy relationships we have ever nurtured. There will surely be more writings on this new developing street vendor campaign in the near future. 

Reformists have told us time and time again that revolution will never kick off here because the masses do not want violence. We know that the reality is that these reformists do not want violence, that they are terrified, and that they want to project this fear onto the masses. The masses, who are beaten down and attacked in every aspect of their lives by the capitalist state and its friends in arms, might be hesitant of militancy at first. But as the contradictions sharpen, as the people transform, and as we prove our loyalty to them, this hesitation crumbles.

Quantitative changes lead to qualitative leaps. Every small instance of courage adds up and develops into something greater. It is our job to take these moments of bravery and fury and organize them, to turn the masses terrorized by the pigs and the government into soldiers that, in turn, will terrorize the pigs and the government.

  1. The rebellious nature of children

Children played a much larger role in the protest than we had ever thought they would. They were incredibly enthusiastic and excited about everything. They covered their faces with bandannas, held signs for us, chanted along with us, kicked and beat our Trump piñata, took the streets and faced down the pigs with just as much courage as their parents.

All of this happened with little to no organized political education. We can assume that most of the children attending knew that Gladis had been taken by ICE, that ICE was bad, and that Trump was bad and connected to ICE. This knowledge was enough to bring out the rebellion that it did. We were able to nurture this rebellion by praising the children and giving them tasks and responsibilities.

But how much more could this rebellion have intensified if the children were really aware of what was going on? If they had even a rudimentary political education about capitalism and oppression? The oppressed youth have always been the most rebellious and forward-thinking. It is our job to nurture this as much as we can, to empower the children, and teach them to be courageous leaders. After all, they are the future.

Conclusion

Overall, this protest was successful in mobilizing the masses and nurturing their militancy. The masses are not lacking at all – they are capable, courageous, daring, and militant. Even in small doses, this is everything. It is up to us to organize and harness this energy and bravery and turn it against their ultimate enemy, which is capitalism-imperialism.

We believe that it is not enough to act after ICE has kidnapped someone. We do not mind holding fundraisers or events, but we know that they are not enough and it is difficult to provide the families with all of the resources they need, however hard we try.

We must attack the problem at its root and stop ICE from taking people in the first place, by any means necessary!

The masses have nothing and are faced with enemies at every turn. But all of these enemies, including ICE, are crushable and once you realize the masses outnumber the enemy, they are weak. They are paper tigers, as Chairman Mao said. They seem fierce and undefeatable because they have capital and tear gas and machine guns and wield no conscience. But in reality, they are nothing. They use their weapons so violently against us because they are afraid of us. They are small. We are massive. They are afraid of what will happen if we realize our full potential and organize against them. They are afraid of what will happen when we seize power.

The people outnumber the pigs, one hundred to one. There is no enemy the people cannot take on if they are organized and armed, physically and ideologically. And we will be with them every step of the way, ready to do whatever it takes to smash the root of their oppression.

Abajo con los propietarios corruptos! Down with corrupt landlords!

Let’s be clear: Don Raul Tomas knows he can get more money from newer, more affluent renters, even if the building is rent controlled, even if he has to illegally try to kick out his tenants! He wants them all out by any means necessary. That’s one thing we share in common: the Cummings Street People’s Committee will resist by any means necessary as well!

Los propietarios ya tienen una relación naturalmente antagónica con sus inquilinos. Pero algunos propietarios van más allá. Como Don Raul Tomas.

Los inquilinos de su propiedad, 202 N. Cummings St., en Boyle Heights, enfrentan constantes hostigamientos y amenazas de parte de un increíblemente hostil e incluso beligerante Don Raúl Tomás. Los inquilinos han vivido allí aproximadamente 10 años, han criado a sus hijos allí, han construido una vida en Boyle Heights como inmigrantes mexicanos orgullosos y trabajadores. Ellos siempre pagan su renta a tiempo. Han mantenido sus apartamentos limpios y ordenados.

Y sin embargo este propietario coco (también es un inmigrante mexicano) dice supuestamente que sus inquilinos están aprovechando de él al negarse a pagar más renta, ¡aunque el edificio está bajo control de renta! Don Raúl Tomás dice que sus inquilinos ingratos son sucios y que hay personas que se quedan allí que no están en el contrato. Algunos inquilinos dicen que están dispuestos a pagar el aumento, pero requieren que sea escrita, ¡a lo que se niega obstinadamente!

¡El propietario dice que él es la víctima en este escenario! Él está siendo aprovechado! ¡La arrogancia! ¡Las mentiras!

Don Raul Tomás, del inicio de este año, ha amenazado, casi mensualmente, con desalojar a todos sus inquilinos con la excepción de uno, su inquilino soplóna-hija. Su hija le hace saber de todo el chisme, le informa y le da asesoría legal sobre cómo desalojar y hostigar legalmente a sus vecinos, sus inquilinos. Una de las principales quejas de Don Raúl Tomás es el uso del agua. ¡Pero él no dice nada cuando su hija tiene una lavadora y secadora en su propio apartamento y regularmente lava la parte de frente del edificio!

Seamos claros: Don Raúl Tomás sabe que puede obtener más dinero de los inquilinos más nuevos y ricos, aunque el edificio está bajo control de renta, incluso si tiene que expulsar ilegalmente a sus inquilinos. Él los quiere sacar a todos por todos los medios necesarios. Eso es algo que compartimos en común: ¡el Comité Popular de Cummings Street resistirá por cualquier medio necesario tambien!

Le estamos pidiendo a la comunidad y a todos nuestros aliados que llamen o escriban o lo que sea, sean creativos, y ¡díganle a Don Raul Tomas que deje de hostigar a sus inquilinos! ¡Deja de amenazar con desalojarlos!

Teléfono celular Don Raul Tomas: 323.513.4803.
Su dirección: 276 E. Fernfield Dr. Monterey Park, CA 91755

¡Que vivan las masas de Boyle Heights!

¡Que viva el Comité Popular de Cummings Street!

¡Abajo con los propietarios corruptos!

Landlords already have a naturally antagonistic relationship with their tenants. But some landlords go far and beyond. Like Don Raul Tomas.

The tenants at his property, 202 N. Cummings St., in Boyle Heights face constant harassment and threats from an incredibly hostile and even belligerent Don Raul Tomas. The tenants have lived there for approximately 10 years, have raised their children there, have built a life in Boyle Heights as proud and hard-working Mexican immigrants. They consistently pay their rent on time. They have maintained their apartments clean and orderly.

And yet, according to this penny-pinching coconut (he, too, is also a Mexican immigrant) landlord, these tenants are taking advantage of him by refusing to pay more rent – even though the building is rent controlled! Don Raul Tomas says his ungrateful tenants are dirty and claim people are staying there that are not on the lease. Some tenants say they’re willing to pay the increase but require it be written, to which he stubbornly refuses!

The landlord says he is the victim in this scenario! He is being taken advantage of! The arrogance! The lies!

Don Raul Tomas, since earlier in the year, has threatened – almost on a monthly basis – to evict all his tenants with the exception of one, his snitch-daughter tenant. His daughter snitches to him about all the chisme, reports to him and gives him legal advise on how to evict and legally harass her neighbors, his tenants. One of Don Raul Tomas’ chief complaints is the water usage. But he doesn’t say jack shit when his daughter has a washer and dryer in her very own apartment and regularly washes down the front area of the apartment building!

Let’s be clear: Don Raul Tomas knows he can get more money from newer, more affluent renters, even if the building is rent controlled, even if he has to illegally try to kick out his tenants! He wants them all out by any means necessary. That’s one thing we share in common: the Cummings Street People’s Committee will resist by any means necessary as well!

We’re asking the community and all of our supporters to call or write or whatever, be creative, and tell Don Raul Tomas to stop harassing his tenants! Stop threatening to evict them!

Don Raul Tomas cell phone: 323.513.4803.
His address: 276 E. Fernfield Dr. Monterey Park, CA 91755

Long live the masses of Boyle Heights!

Long live the Cummings Street People’s Committee!

Down with corrupt landlords!

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