Friday, August 22, 2014


It is cops and jails friday and I am returning back to the cause that brung me to create this column - political prisoners.  We have left too many such folks behind.  I have long believed that we, those of us on the outside, have an absolute obligation to never forget these people and to always have their freedom placed in the forefront of our struggles.  This is an obligation I have tried to follow here at Scission and out there in the more real world.  

I spent a relatively short time in prison on political charges.  I consider myself lucky.  I remind myself often that up the Missouri River from me in Omaha two men were convicted of political charges at virtually the same time as me.  There was, of course, one big difference in our cases.  I am white.  They are black.  This is the USA. They are still in prison.  Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter, former Black Panthers have sat behind bars for well over four decades.  That is horrendous.  What, of course, makes it even more horrendous is that the overwhelming evidence is out there which indicates they should not have spent one single day there.

Prisons across America find men and women facing similar fates.

Where are we?

What are we doing?

The following is from a newspaper that makes it its business to never forget - The San Francisco Bay View.

From the Keystone State to the Golden State: The need for a national movement to liberate political prisoners

by Robert Saleem Holbrook
Russell Maroon Shoats by JerichoJoseph Bowens by JerichoFred Muhammad Burton by JerichoSundiata Acoli by Jericho

In Pennsylvania, former Black Panthers and Black Liberation Army members Russell Maroon Shoatz, Joseph JoJo Bowens, Clifford Lumumba Futch and Fred Muhammad Burton enter their 40th year in captivity. Up the road in USP Allenwood, Pennsylvania BLA member Sundiata Acoli is denied parole yet again by the state of New Jersey and given a 15-year parole hit, essentially a terminal hit, as Brother Sundiata is in his mid-70s.
In New York, former Black Panthers and Black Liberation Army members Jalil Muntaqim, Sekou Odinga, Herman Bell, Abdul Majid and Robert Seth Hayes enter their fourth decade in prison as well. Until recently in the federal Admax in Florence, Colorado, now at USP Victorville in Adelanto, Calif., former Black Liberation Army member Dr. Mutulu Shakur, the stepfather of the late Tupac Shakur, enters his third decade in captivity.
In Omaha, Nebraska, former Black Panthers Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter enter their 40th year in captivity, while in Angola, Louisiana, former Black Panther Albert Woodfox enters his 40th year in captivity, 36 of them in isolation. In California, the “Golden Gulag,” comrades Hugo Pinell and Ruchell Cinque Magee are on the verge of their 50th year of imprisonment. In the federal system, Puerto Rican Independence political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera is entering his 30th year of captivity for fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico.
The names represented in this article are just the “known” political prisoners and no disrespect to any brothas and sistas left off the list. The purpose of the list is to illustrate the current plight of our movement’s political prisoners, who, despite surviving countless hostile encounters with the state’s security forces, are on the verge of succumbing to old age and infirmities behind the walls and gun towers of the empire’s Prison Industrial Complex.
There is no cause celebre movement calling for these men’s release or amnesty because they represent an unrepentant Black-New Afrikan political militancy and drive for self-determination, and their very example is threatening to a United States that currently has the highest disproportion of wealth between the rich and poor than at any time within its history. In addition, in the eyes of the state, these men committed the most deplorable offense an oppressed minority or group can commit and that is to use armed struggle as a political response and expression to state repression and violence.

Our movement’s political prisoners, who, despite surviving countless hostile encounters with the state’s security forces, are on the verge of succumbing to old age and infirmities behind the walls and gun towers of the empire’s Prison Industrial Complex.

The government claims our political prisoners are “terrorists” because they picked up arms in pursuit of political objectives. However, the truth is these groups turned to arms only as a last resort after the government, through COINTELPRO, waged an illegal war against members of the Black Liberation Movement. This illegal war resulted not only in false arrests and imprisonment, but also assassinations and ultimately the destruction of the Black Panther Party as a political representative of the Black underclass within the Black colonies – the hoods and ghettos – of the United States.
Any question of whether our political prisoners were right or wrong in resorting to armed struggle during that turbulent period in Amerikan history should be irrelevant since history has shown their actions were justified by the repressive circumstances of the times. This was a time when state sponsored racial terrorism was practiced extensively in the Southern United States against Afrikan Americans, and unarmed civil rights activists were murdered, disappeared and bombed out of existence by not only white vigilante groups like the KKK and White Citizens Councils (now called Conservative Citizens Councils) but also with the cooperation and tacit support of state actors such as law enforcement, politicians etc.
Jalil Muntaqim by JerichoSekou Odinga by JerichoHerman Bell by JerichoAbdul Majid by Jericho
Meanwhile, up North the Black colonies exploded in riots and rebellion in response to an epidemic of police brutality, mass unemployment and widespread Black disenfranchisement. The period of 1965-1972 has often been described as the second Amerikan civil war and, for members of the Black Liberation Movement, it was a war.
In 2014, however, we are led to believe that the war is long over and the barriers to Afrikan American empowerment have been shattered. Obama is president and Holder is U.S. attorney general.
Yet, if the war is over, why are our political prisoners still detained? Why are they still labeled “terrorists”? The government claims they are terrorists, but our political prisoners never waged war on a defenseless population. Their guns were aimed at armed police or other targets of the government who were also armed. Compare our political prisoners’ conduct with the racist right wing white vigilantes in the South who lynched, shot, raped and bombed unarmed Afrikan American men, women and children to maintain white supremacy while Southern state governments and the federal government looked the other way.
The government also claims amnesty is out of the question because our political prisoners should not be forgiven for targeting and terrorizing law enforcement agencies and government personnel across the empire. Nor for the enduring harm which the government claims was caused to families of fallen police officers. However, why is healing and amnesty always a one-way street? Why are we as Afrikan Americans constantly reminded to forgive and grant amnesty to the perpetrators of the 400 years of terror our ancestors endured in the United States, first during the 300 years of chattel slavery and then during 100 years of Jim Crow-era American apartheid – segregation?

Any question of whether our political prisoners were right or wrong in resorting to armed struggle during that turbulent period in Amerikan history should be irrelevant since history has shown their actions were justified by the repressive circumstances of the times.

The entire soil of the Southern United States is so drenched with the blood and suffering of our ancestors – and of Native Americans – from the eras of colonial expansion, chattel slavery and segregation – crimes against our ancestors’ humanity – that it should not only constitute hallowed ground but should also be identified as one of the largest crime scenes on the planet. This we are asked to pardon?
Even from a more contemporary angle, we are asked to forgive and offer amnesty to the perpetrators who murdered thousands of Afrikan Americans during the struggle to end Jim Crow segregation from 1952 to 1966. “Get over it” or “That was the past” are common rebukes that one encounters when raising this specter of state-sponsored terrorism in America.
Seriously, we are asked to “put this behind us” and move on with our lives as if nothing happened and, even worse, as if it doesn’t matter. At the same time, the government refuses to grant amnesty to an oppressed minority’s freedom fighters who are now imprisoned by the state.
Robert Seth Hayes by JerichoMutulu Shakur by JerichoMondo we Langa by JerichoEd Poindexter by Jericho

We should not be surprised that the state would be opposed to amnesty for our political prisoners given that in the United States, Black life has historically been and is presently viewed by the state as “worthless” and held in less regard than white life. This is why our freedom fighters are condemned to die in prison while the white perpetrators of Southern terror against Afrikan Americans are rehabilitated into the “New South,” and the federal agents behind COINTELPRO and their law enforcement partners have retired on comfortable government pensions. The government certainly has not put any challenges to it behind it.
We must also understand that the issue of our political prisoners will not be addressed from a compassionate standpoint in the eyes of the government. As Malcolm X said: “That whole thing about appealing to the moral conscience of America – America’s conscience is bankrupt. She lost all conscience a long time ago.” To deal with this issue we must first deal with ourselves.
No conversation about the plight of our political prisoners can be complete without addressing the dismal failure of the majority of our civil rights, cultural and political movements to keep political prisoners at the forefront of their agendas. This failure is a stain on our national character, and when I say national character, I am referring to the descendants of enslaved Afrikans in the United States, who constitute a distinct nation within the United States.
Many of our misleaders tell us that the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movement struggles are over and obsolete and that enfranchisement and self-determination have been attained. Our misleaders have granted amnesty to the government for its past transgressions, yet apparently the government hasn’t gotten that memo.
In conflict and war, only after the cessation of hostilities is amnesty granted. If widespread racial discrimination and structural racial injustice have been defeated, why are our freedom fighters still imprisoned decades after the supposed attainment of our people’s full rights under the Constitution? Our political prisoners have been left behind.

No conversation about the plight of our political prisoners can be complete without addressing the dismal failure of the majority of our civil rights, cultural and political movements to keep political prisoners at the forefront of their agendas.

Many of our so-called leaders and professors can issue glowing tributes to Mandela on his recent passing that praise his militant opposition to apartheid, yet where are their voices and platform when it comes to our Mandelas in U.S. custody for over four decades?
Even some of our so-called radical and culturally conscious leaders have performed dismally in the struggle to support and liberate our political prisoners. Why do they not travel to Cuba and meet with Assata in a show of solidarity and support? Unfortunately, far too few in number are professors like Georgia State University Akinyele Omowale Umoja, who has produced scholarly work on the political-military history and lessons of Black armed resistance and defense in the United States.
Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox by JerichoHugo Pinell by JerichoRuchell Magee by JerichoOscar Lopez Rivera by Jericho
Our so-called leaders and representatives must break free of their fear of consequences for supporting our political prisoners. For if, as many of them tell us, we are free and times have changed, then why do they fear consequences from the government? If they are representatives and/or spokespersons of our people, why are they not speaking out on behalf of our political prisoners who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in our people’s long struggle in the United States?
Herein lies the contradiction: In the United States, we are free only within acceptable boundaries of dissent determined by the state that is responsible for our collective lack of power as a people. To detour from these acceptable boundaries of dissent would invite repercussion from the state.
The sad irony in this is that the repercussions our so-called leaders would face are not mortal consequences nor would they particularly endanger their freedom. That is no longer the primary modus operandi of the government in this so-called post-racial United States.
The repercussions these misleaders would face for siding with the true representatives of our people is ostracism and removal from the corridors of state power and celebrity. They would no longer be invited to grand political photo-op gatherings or power summits; their invitations to speak at conventions and on cable television would dry up.
In short, they would be thrown back to the ‘hood. Tragically, this is what it has come down to: No one wants to be tossed from their comfortable perch in an imperial United States. These are tough and uncomfortable statements but they are also necessary ones in an era of neocolonialism, when the state has us acting against our own interests. We must call out those who claim to represent us and, so long as that criticism is constructive, no one should be immune from it.

Our so-called leaders and representatives must break free of their fear of consequences for supporting our political prisoners. For if, as many of them tell us, we are free and times have changed, then why do they fear consequences from the government?

Presently the plight of our political prisoners is being raised in front of the United Nations Human Rights Committee tasked with studying reports concerning the United States’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty ratified by the United States in 1992. In March of 2014,Efia Nwangaza, a member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the U.S. Human Rights Network, accompanied a delegation of activists to Geneva, Switzerland, to specifically represent political prisoners and report to the committee on the United States’ failure to comply with the ICCPR. Among those failures are the continued use of prolonged solitary confinement on political prisoners and the continued imprisonment of political prisoners in the United States due to their political beliefs.
The delegation was successful in convincing Cuba, Venezuela and South Africa to call for the unconditional release of all U.S. political prisoners. China and Russia also denounced the United States human rights record, pointing out its double standard of condemning smaller countries for human rights abuses while ignoring and perpetuating human rights abuses within its own borders.

The delegation was successful in convincing Cuba, Venezuela and South Africa to call for the unconditional release of all U.S. political prisoners.

Dr. Zonke Zaneke Majodina and Efia Nwangaza both participated in the ICCPR in Geneva March 14-15, 2014, Dr. Majodina as a member of the U.N. Human Rights Commission and Nwangaza to testify on behalf of U.S. political prisoners. Dr. Majodina cited Herman Wallace, who died four days after his release, which was blocked for decades solely because of the warden’s fear of “Black Pantherism.” “Cuba, Venezuela and South Africa called for the unconditional release of all U.S. political prisoners,” Ms. Nwangaza said. Both women called for U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez to be given unfettered access to all prisons in the U.S.
Dr. Zonke Zaneke Majodina and Efia Nwangaza both participated in the ICCPR in Geneva March 14-15, 2014, Dr. Majodina as a member of the U.N. Human Rights Commission and Nwangaza to testify on behalf of U.S. political prisoners. Dr. Majodina cited Herman Wallace, who died four days after his release, which was blocked for decades solely because of the warden’s fear of “Black Pantherism.” “Cuba, Venezuela and South Africa called for the unconditional release of all U.S. political prisoners,” Ms. Nwangaza said. Both women called for U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez to be given unfettered access to all prisons in the U.S.
Sister Nwangaza is preparing another report for submission to the next United Nations Human Rights Committee. If anyone is interested in building support for this delegation and report, please contact Sister Efia Nwangaza Or call Malcolm X Center for Self Determination Executive Director Nwangaza at 864-239-0470 and inquire how you can support her efforts to liberate our political prisoners. The only way we can give these reports muscle is by building a movement behind them.
People can also help by joining your local Jericho Chapter ( or starting a chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement ( Also sign up to say, “Hands Off Assata,” at www. Support the Human Rights Coalition ( and organize to pressure leaders and organizations that claim to represent us socially, politically and culturally to mobilize locally and nationally in support of the freedom of our political prisoners.
Grassroots movements should reach out to our political prisoners and put them on their advisory councils and boards. In Pennsylvania, the Human Rights Coalition has had the privilege of having BLA political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz as its co-founder and advisor, and his counsel has charted and expanded HRC’s vision and reach. We recommend other movements do the same.
The vision and experience of these veteran freedom fighters is essential for our collective struggle to roll back the War on Drugsa war that has ultimately turned into a war against communities and people of color and spawned in its wake the monster of mass imprisonment, which has bled our communities of their youth and future.
If we respect our struggle, we must honor and bring home our freedom fighters who struggled first to forge the way for us. In the words of Assata Shakur, “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

If we respect our struggle, we must honor and bring home our freedom fighters who struggled first to forge the way for us.

Send our brother some love and light: Robert Saleem Holbrook, BL-5140, SCI Coal Township, 1 Kelley Dr., Coal Township PA 17866,

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I don't know.  I just don't know.  Have you heard about the non-Indian Tribal Police officer (don't even ask me) who repeatedly tasered a helpless  Lakota man lying on the ground and the official story is she was trying to get the man "to wake up and stand up."  This took place the other day in South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Hello, where am I?

The incident was caught on camera by a passerby who taped the officer repeatedly zapping the man who appears to never resist, defend himself or make any threatening moves. Chuck Drago, of Oviedo, Fla., who has 35 years of experience in law enforcement and has testified as an expert witness more than 30 times told the Rapid City Journal the rather obvious.  He said using the shocking device is exactly the wrong way to get someone who is unconscious or lying down to stand up and respond to orders.

You can't resist if you're unconscious. If the person is not resisting there is absolutely no reason for force....

Drago added,  using a Taser to get an unconscious, unresponsive person into a vehicle is not a valid tactic "in the wildest stretch of the imagination."  He said rather than taser an unconscious non resisting individual a police officer, "should have been calling for an ambulance."

Ron Duke, chief of the OST Department of Public Safety, says the officer only used the taser five to ten times.  Say what?  Witnesses say the number was really more than a dozen.

Death and Taxes reports on the video showing what happened:

Officer Becky Sotherland, 32, of the Pine Ridge tribal police screams at a man to get into her vehicle as he lay on the ground helpless and handcuffed.

The man, incapacitated, unresponsive, and unable to get into the vehicle, is hit with a stun gun repeatedly as Sotherland yells at him to get in the car threatening that, “It’s gonna get you again,” referring to the 50,000 volts of electrical current delivered by the taser.

Sotherland continually brutalizes the man until finally horrified onlookers begin yelling for the assault to stop, telling the officer they will help get the man into the vehicle themselves, as they are disgusted at the scene taking place before their eyes.

Sotherland obviously wasn’t using the stun gun as a means of defense, as the man is laying helplessly on the ground handcuffed, rather she is using it as a means of sadistic punishment in an attempt to motivate him to get into her police cruiser as she is seemingly too lazy to simply put the suspect into the cruiser herself.

Another view of the video comes from Jeffrey Whalen in an opinion piece for the Native Sun News.  He describes it like this:

The scene appears to be on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation somewhere in the Wounded Knee District where a dark blue tribal police SUV is parked in the driveway of a HUD home in a housing project. There is a police officer who appears to be a white woman with bleached white hair who is standing on the sidewalk at the end of the driveway near the home. Her name is Officer Sutherland. She is dressed in her blue police uniform and is holding a Stun Taser gun and has just shot a male Native American with it. The male Native American is lying on his side and on the ground between the sidewalk and the Police SUV. He is unable to move and is still hooked up to the Taser’s wiring.

The woman officer is standing upright, looking down on her victim and repeatedly pulls the Taser trigger again and again and again and doesn’t stop pulling the Taser trigger until around the 20th time. There is a crowd of older teen agers yelling at the officer begging her to stop using the Taser on her victim. A by-stander is holding the video camera and providing commentary.

The woman officer can be heard in the background screaming at her victim; "I’m going to hit you again! There it is! Hurry up…get into the car before I hit you again, hurry up…I’m going to hit you again if you don’t get into the car…Get up! Get into the car!” The buzzing sound of the Taser goes off again and again. The victim can be heard moaning but is completely immobilized and is unable to move. The cop keeps screaming…”Get up! Get into the car!

Someone in the crowd says; “This is about the 13th time they used the Taser on him. We’ve been watching for about a half an hour.” The person with the camera scream’s at the officer; “Stop Tasing him! Help him up! One of you boys go over there and help him up! His is just slobbering, they Tased him like 20 times now!”

He adds, 

 It seems like every time I write about the Pine Ridge Police Department some officer comes to arrest me for some dumb reason. This time, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to continue to report it the way I see it because what has happened with the Taser is flat out wrong and is a life threatening situation for the victim. This woman officer needs to be arrested for attempted murder.

Officer Sotherland recently was complaining about the "lenient treatment"  of intoxicated Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  She is quoted on MSNBC as saying,

They go into detox or a holding cell for 8 hours then get an hour of community service, Sometimes they’re out before your shift is over, causing trouble.

Did I mention  that Tribal Police  Officer Sotherland is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, former hair salon-owner, former city coroner?  

Let's go back to the opinion piece by Jeffrey Whalen:

The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Bryan Brewer weighed in on Facebook as well. His message reads; “Good morning, this message is to our people who live in the Wounded Knee district and the Pine Ridge reservation. Officer Sutherland has been placed on suspension until further investigation. This investigation will happen very soon. The video camera she carries has yet to be reviewed. I will notify the people when further action is taken. Wopila.

Another post is from Mary H. Young Bear, “Good morning Mr. President. Thank you for the news of Officer Sutherland. That was absolutely police brutality. She abused her power and authority. No one should be above the law. She is very dangerous to the citizens of the reservation. She shouldn’t be allowed to go to another district. Wopila tankan!”

The entire reservation Public Safety system is in shambles and is in dire need of repair. The officers drive through town at neck breaking speeds, totally ignoring the safety of the general public. They harass anyone who they have personal issues with and they disregard the rights of the citizens. Officer Sutherland represents every one of the reservation police departments and their lack of concern, professionalism and sympathy for the very Oyate that they serve is atrocious.

The victim has every right to file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Oglala Sioux Tribal Public Safety department and should immediately take this into federal court. Public Safety is a contracted program and it is being contracted from the federal system. Other officers, their supervisors and everyone in between should be reprimanded and even terminated from their positions. The Tribal Law & Order committee should immediately revoke Public Safety’s charter. A full investigation by the Inspector General, not by the tribe itself or by Public Safety, should be done and it should be done immediately.

We have been living under the violent rule of the tribal IRA government for too long and its time for the Oyate to rise up and be heard.

Officer Sotherland is on paid leave while the FBI and the BIA investigate. 

Paid leave...FBI and BIA...

What can I say?

It's morning in America.

You can see the video here.

The following is from Indigenous Resistance.

Oglala Sioux Police tasers helpless Lakota man 10 to 20 times

Caught on video

Oglala police officer, non-Indian, repeatedly tasers helpless Lakota man

By Brenda Norrell
Indigenous Resistance

MANDERSON, Pine Ridge, South Dakota -- Oglala Sioux police officer Becky Sotherland, non-Indian, tasered a helpless Lakota man on the ground 10 to 20 times. The abuse was caught on video.

Officer Sotherland claimed she was trying to wake the man up by repeatedly tasering him.
The Lakota man, 32, from Manderson, survived this police attack. However, more than 540 people have died as a result of being tasered.
The repeated tasering by this officer also magnifies the problem with poorly-trained, non-Indian police officers on Indian lands. 

While some non-Indian officers on Indian lands are poorly-trained, or simply lacking in common sense, others are racist and mean, repeatedly carrying out excessive force.
According to MSNBC in a previous article, Sotherland is white and not a tribal member.

    Sotherland, 32, is somewhat of an oddity on the force and the reservation. Unlike most of       her colleagues, she’s not a member of the tribe. She’s a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, former       hair salon-owner, former city coroner who describes herself as a “white mutt.”

The video of the tasering attack is available on Facebook. It has been shared 4,511 times since the police attack occurred on Friday.

The Rapid City Journal, known for its bordertown journalism, failed in its coverage of this crucial incident. 

The Rapid City Journal says the man was tasered "several times" by the officer.
Last Real Indians, however, shared Sis Cliff's video of the incident on Facebook, and said the man was actually tasered 10 to 20 times. 

Watch the video and listen. It is not several.

Further, the Rapid City Journal goes from bad to worse with its coverage of this police abuse. The Journal continues the typical media response of covering up for police abuse with a second story on the officer's "good record."

Check back for updates

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Going out to dinner soon with an old friend.  No time for the movie show, TV or the Scission page...

We've been hearing a lot about militarization of the police of late.  Here is an eye opening graphic visual of just what we are talking about from Popular Resistance.

Data On Transfer Of Military Gear To Police Departments

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WASHINGTON — Since President Obama took office, the Pentagon has transferred to police departments tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.
In May, The New York Times requested and received from the Pentagon its database of transfers since 2006. The data underpinned an article in June and helped inform coverage of the police response this month in Ferguson, Mo., after an officer shot Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager.
The Times is now posting the raw data to GitHub here. With this data, which is being posted as it was received, people can see what gear is being used in their communities. The equipment is as varied as guns, computers and socks.
The Pentagon-to-police transfer program is not new. Congress created it during the drug war, as a way to increase police firepower in the fight against drug gangs. But since 9/11, as the Pentagon geared up to fight two wars, then drew down as those wars ended, the amount of available military surplus has ballooned.
Now, after a week of confrontation between protesters in Ferguson and heavily armed police, members of Congress are criticizing the trickle down of military gear.

Mapping the Spread of the Military’s Surplus Gear

State and local police departments obtain some of their military-style equipment through a free Defense Department program created in the early 1990s. While the portion of their gear that comes from the program is relatively small (most of it is paid for by the departments or through federal grants), detailed data from the Pentagon illustrates how ubiquitous such equipment has become. Highlighted counties have received guns, grenade launchers, vehicles, night vision or body armor through the program since 2006.

Aircraft: Planes and helicopters
Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 11.11.05 AM

Armored Vehicles: Including cars and trucks
Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 11.12.00 AM

Body Armor: Including vests and helmets
Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 11.13.01 AM

Grenade Launchers: Usually used for smoke grenades and tear gas
Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 11.13.19 AM

Night Vision: Including sights, binoculars, and accessories
Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 11.14.03 AM

Assault Rifles: 5.56-mm and 7.62-mm rifles
Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 11.14.40 AM

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Last night there was the strange few moments when CNN especially suddenly called it like the camera showed it.  They took on the police.  They admitted, even charged that the protesters were doing nothing while the police were egging them on by donning gas masks, by pointing weapons at the crowd, by driving armored vehicles into the crowds, by suddenly, and for no reason tossing stun grenades and firing tear gas.  For a moment there CNN correspondents couldn't help themselves (or, perhaps, their masters realized that the WHOLE WORLD REALLY WAS WATCHING and that the blatant oppressive actions of the police, of the police state, were no longer exactly corresponding with the longer term interests of the STATE).  Who knows?  I remember when that happened for a moment in 1968 when the police rioted at protests outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago.  It was too much and the media couldn't avoid what everyone was seeing on camera.

It doesn't last though.

Then, they changed their tune again.  All of a sudden every network began talking about the "rotten apples" in the crowd.  Every network using the same language.  Every network taking their "eye" off the police and focusing it on rotten apples from out of town.  I am not here to say there are no "rotten apples," but that is not and was not the story.  The real "rotten apples" remain the people in uniforms, with guns, grenades, tear gas, armored vehicles and helicopters.  They are the real agitators NOT FROM THE COMMUNITY who are stirring up the pot by clamping down on the pot, so to speak.  You know that, I know that, we all know that.  For a briefest of moments there, even CNN knew that.

Now,  I want to say the following.  Let me start off it by making perfectly clear that I realize throughout history (and I have personally heard it too many times to count) whenever a community militantly fights back up comes the canard of outside agitators (see rotten apples above).  There are always claims by the authorities and the media of these nebulous, shadowing people who come from somewhere mysterious (and return somewhere equally mysterious) who are stirring up the good local people and making a bad show for all of us.  Do outside agitators exist?  Sure, there must be some.  However, it doesn't take outside agitators to explain to anyone that when the State is gunning down your children, your people on the streets, something must be done. It doesn't take outside agitators to create anger.  Hundreds of years of experience with white supremacy and the State takes care of that.  There is always a split between the more militant and the less militant, between those who want "legitimate" protest and those who want something more.  I cannot pass judgement on who is doing what in Ferguson.  I will not do so.  It is not my place to do so.  The community of African Americans there will decide and they will deal with it all as they feel is necessary.  I can pass judgement on the media and the authorities, and I do.

That said I have something else to pass along to my white brothers and sisters on the left.

Any white people, regular folks, anti-racists, activists, communists, anarchists, whomever who are in Ferguson absolutely must act only under the leadership of the community, of African Americans. This is no place for some white, leftist agenda. I have no clue if there are people violating that principle, hopefully not, but if there are, that is shit. I have seen some things that make me wonder. I understand the desire for solidarity. I understand the desire to stand up. It is a good thing to stand together with the black community of Ferguson, but you must do so under the leadership of the people of the community. If you are a white person or organization with your own political agenda, then take it to the white community. African Americans do not need white people to explain any of this to them. African Americans understand this shit better than any white person of any political orientation.

That may sound like some sort of arrogant command, but it is merely meant as a statement of principle.  I can't command anyone to do anything.

Malcolm X can though, and he did.  In a 1964 speech at the founding rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity he said, 

Now, if white people want to help, they can help. But they can't join. They can help in the white community, but they can't join. We accept their help. They can form the White Friends of the Organization of Afro-American Unity and work in the white community on white people and change their attitude toward us. They don't ever need to come among us and change our attitude. We've had enough of them working around us trying to change our attitude. That's what got us all messed up. So we don't question their sincerity, we don't question their motives, we don't question their integrity. We just encourage them to use it somewhere else in the white community. If they can use all of this sincerity in the white community to make the white community act better toward us, then we'll say, "Those are good white folks." But they don't have to come around us, smiling at us and showing us all their teeth like white Uncle Toms, to try and make themselves acceptable to us. The White Friends of the Organization of Afro American Unity, let them work in the white community.

Want it put more succinctly,  Malcolm said in 1965 in an interview for the Young Socialist,

Whites who are sincere don’t accomplish anything by joining Negro organizations and making them integrated. Whites who are sincere should organize among themselves and figure out some strategy to break down prejudice that exists in white communities. This is where they can function more intelligently and more effectively, in the white community itself, and this has never been done.

Or how about this also from Malcolm,

 If a white man wants to be your ally, what does he think of John Brown? You know what John Brown did? He went to war. He was a white man who went to war against white people to help free the slaves.

If we want some white allies, we need the kind John Brown was, or we don't need any.

Malcolm wasn't alone in trying to pass along this message to would be white allies.   Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (known still to many as H. Rap Brown), put it like this,

Everybody in the black community must organize, and then we decide whether we will have alliance with other people or not, but not until we are organized.

I am not presenting all this as some sort of general prescription for the destruction of global capital, of capitalism.  So don't go there with me, okay?

The following is from  "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," pp. 383–384.

You may not like what Malcolm says below.  It may sound too separatist for some of your ears.  You may not understand it.  You may not have been alive in 1964.  You may not understand the context or how it relates to now, to you.  You may not like the book the quote is taken from.  But here it is anyway.  Think about it.  Yes, I know about class.  Yes, I realize the problems with separatism and all that.  No, I am not endorsing every single word that left the mouth of Malcolm X.  I am presenting this to you as something for white leftists to keep in mind as they so often, almost always with the best of intentions, substitute their own agenda, be it one of some sort of vanguard communism, or one of anarchism, for the wisdom of the multitude itself.  In this case, of course, we are talking of/to white folks who just can't get it through their thick skulls that African Americans actually do not need their leadership, white leadership, in the struggle against white supremacy and matter in what framework it comes.

Finally, let me just say, I find the tenacity of the people of Ferguson struggling for justice is quite simply amazing.

Malcolm X on White Allies:

“I knew, better than most Negroes, how many white people truly wanted to see American racial problems solved. I knew that many whites were as frustrated as Negroes. I’ll bet I got fifty letters some days from white people. The white people in meeting audiences would throng around me, asking me, after I had addressed them somewhere, ‘What can a sincere white person do?’

“When I say that here now, it makes me think about that little co-ed I told you about, the one who flew from her New England college down to New York and came up to me in the Nation of Islam’s restaurant in Harlem, and I told her that there was “nothing” she could do. I regret that I told her that. I wish that now I knew her name, or where I could telephone her, or write to her, and tell her what I tell white people now when they present themselves as being sincere, and ask me, one way or another, the same thing that she asked. The first thing I tell them is that at least where my own particular Black Nationalist organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, is concerned, they can’t join us. I have these very deep feelings that white people who want to join black organizations are really just taking the escapist way to salve their consciences. By visibly hovering near us, they are "proving" that they are "with us." But the hard truth is this isn't helping to solve America's racist problem. The Negroes aren't the racists. Where the really sincere white people have got to do their "proving" of themselves is not among the black victims, but out on the battle lines of where America's racism really is—and that's in their own home communities; America's racism is among their own fellow whites. That's where sincere whites who really mean to accomplish something have got to work.
“Aside from that, I mean nothing against any sincere whites when I say that as members of black organizations, generally whites’ very presence subtly renders the black organization automatically less effective. Even the best white members will slow down the Negroes’ discovery of what they need to do, and particularly of what they can do—for themselves, working by themselves, among their own kind, in their own communities.

“I sure don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but in fact I’ll even go so far as to say that I never really trust the kind of white people who are always so anxious to hang around Negroes, or to hang around in Negro communities. I don’t trust the kind of whites who love having Negroes always hanging around them. I don’t know—this feeling may be a throwback to the years when I was hustling in Harlem and all of those red-faced, drunk whites in the after hours clubs were always grabbing hold of some Negroes and talking about ‘I just want you to know you’re just as good as I am—.’ And then they got back in their taxicabs and black limousines and went back downtown to the places where they lived and worked where no blacks except servants had better get caught. But, anyway, I know that every time that whites join a black organization, you watch, pretty soon the blacks will be leaning to the whites to support it, and before you know it a black may be up front with a title, but the whites, because of their money, are the real controllers.

“I tell sincere white people, 'Work in conjunction with us—each of us working among our own kind.' Let sincere white individuals find all other white people they can who feel as they do—and let them form their own all-white groups, to work trying to convert other white people who are thinking and acting so racist. Let sincere whites go and teach non-violence to white people! We will completely respect our white co-workers. They will deserve every credit. We will give them every credit. We will meanwhile be working among our own kind, in our own black communities— showing and teaching black men in ways that only other black men can—that the black man has got to help himself. Working separately, the sincere white people and sincere black people actually will be working together.

In our mutual sincerity we might be able to show a road to the salvation of America’s very soul. It can only be salvaged if human rights and dignity, in full, are extended to black men. Only such real, meaningful actions as those which are sincerely motivated from a deep sense of humanism and moral responsibility can get at the basic causes that produce the racial explosions in America today. Otherwise, the racial explosions are only going to grow worse. Certainly nothing is ever going to be solved by throwing upon me and other so-called black ‘extremists’ and ‘demagogues’ the blame for the racism that is in America.”