Editor's Note: This statement was posted on Black Radical Congress News, July 21, 2000.
Both the Republican and Democratic parties' presidential nominating conventions are coming up, and many people are trying to figure out which candidate they should back. A lot of other people are taking a different approach to the major parties' political campaigns. Rather than deciding whether they should pull the lever for the elephant or the jackass, they're coming to Philadelphia during the Republican convention and LA during the Democratic convention to protest. People are going to be in the streets opposing global corporate greed, calling for freedom for Mumia Abu Jamal and an end to the death penalty, calling out how the authorities are putting the squeeze on the poor and more. This is what people need to be doing right now -- taking to the streets forging a movement that can take on the attacks coming down on the people and the global capitalist system that's responsible for those attacks. Not supporting one or the other political party that fronts for that system.
A t-shirt being sold in Philadelphia concentrates an important part of the program of both the democratic and republican parties. It features a picture of the televised beat down of a Black man by Philly police under the words, "Republic National Convention Welcoming Committee." If you want another picture try the one of a grinning Governor Whitman of New Jersey (NJ) patting down an innocent Black
man who was a victim of double racial profiling -- first by the NJ state police and then by a governor in search of a photo-op. If you can stomach one more such image, try the police scandal in L.A., with cops snitching on each other about how they brutalize and kill people and railroad innocent people to jail. A key part of the programs of both major political parties can be summed up in three words --
pigs, prisons and punishment.
The video tape of Philly cops beating a Black man is completely in line with the history of the pig department in that city. After all this is the police department of Frank Rizzo who sicc'ed dogs on Black school children as they peacefully protested and forced Black Panthers to strip naked in the streets. And it was Philly cops who beat Delbert Africa again in front of TV cameras in 1978 as he surrendered after the first assault on the MOVE organization. In 1985, Philly cops, under orders from then Mayor Wilson Goode and with help from the FBI, dropped a bomb on an occupied house in the Black community, murdering 11 MOVE members, five of them children. Philly police were involved in railroading Mumia Abu-Jamal to Pennsylvania's death row thru bribing and intimidating witnesses to falsely accuse him of the murder of a cop and hiding evidence favorable to his defense. This same police department was caught framing up hundreds of innocent people and sending
them to jail in the 1980's and '90's. Philly cops stole the lives of Moises DeJesus, Dontae Dawson, Anthony DiDonato, and countless other victims of police murder in the 1990's. This is the real Philadelphia story, and the televised beat down is only the latest chapter.
A quick look at the candidates will show that this beat down is a fitting image for this election. On one side you have George W. "Baby Doc" Bush who has campaigned for
president like he was running for chief executioner. This "compassionate conservative" has declared that all of the 135+ people executed in Texas since he became governor were guilty and deserved to be killed by the state. This included
Shaka Sankofa (Gary Graham) whose court appointed lawyer refused to put on the witness stand two eyewitnesses who swore that Sankofa wasn't the man who shot Bobby Lambert that night. He also didn't introduce evidence that proved that the gun Sankofa had when he was arrested wasn't the murder weapon. Sankofa's case isn't the exception. It's the norm. Most of the 3,000 plus people on death row are Black
or Latino. Almost all of them are poor and couldn't afford adequate defense lawyers. with Bush as the nominee and Governor Ridge of Pennsylvania, who has signed one death
warrant for Mumia and is itching to sign another one, hosting the Republican convention, you could call it an executioners' ball.
As for Al Gore, he's declared that he wants to be the law and order president. He brags that he was part of the administration that put 100,000 more cops out on the
streets. He could also brag about the repressive legislation that was passed on his watch. Now he's pledging to hire thousands more prosecutors nationwide to use that repressive legislation to put more people in jail for longer sentences. When asked about the execution of Sankofa, this candidate of the party we're told is the lesser of two evils would only say, "I'm a strong supporter of the death penalty."
This should come as no surprise. A lot of people say that both the democrats and republicans are in the pockets of the rich. But it's even worse than that. These elections are a sham and a trap. They tell us that the elections are where the direction of the country for the next four years is going to be decided. Nothing could be further from the truth. The capitalist class that rules over us uses their
elections to set the limits of allowable debate. And they use elections to suck people into endorsing the policies they're going to bring down on us and choosing which representative of the capitalists' interests is going to preside over the carrying out of those policies.
That's why I've said for quite some time that their elections are a no win road. And that if you're serious about fundamentally changing things in this country and the
world, it's going to come down to revolutionary war. I know there are those who say that talk of revolution isn't realistic. I say what's really unrealistic is thinking we can do anything good for the people by getting sucked into
the capitalists' election shell game.
Look at what's going down in the country and the world today. The cops are being given a green light to brutalize and kill, repressive legislation is being enacted,
poor people are being warehoused in prison and on death rows across the country, a woman's right to have an abortion is under assault, the government is moving to suppress dissent.
Capitalism's global chase after profits is forcing millions world wide to slave for pennies a day to make some rich man even richer and forcing millions more to starve. If you hate all this and more, then you need to be one of the people in the streets in Philly and LA during the conventions expressing your rage. And you need to stay in the streets beyond that, building resistance to these and other outrages this system brings down and forging the kind of movement we need to take all this on, a revolutionary movement.