This is an archive of the former website of the Maoist Internationalist Movement, which was run by the now defunct Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika. The MIM now consists of many independent cells, many of which have their own indendendent organs both online and off. MIM(Prisons) serves these documents as a service to and reference for the anti-imperialist movement worldwide.

D.C. statehood is not enough

MIM Notes, Issue 71: December, 1992
by a comrade

One month before the elections Congress forced the most expansive, racist death penalty initiative seen yet onto the ballot. A white Senator from Alabama proposed the initiative, outraged when his white aide was killed recently on Capitol Hill. The tough-on-crime measure was markedly *not* a response to the deaths of hundreds of Blacks in the city every year.

Studies have shown that the death penalty used as a tool for nation and class oppression. This particular measure went further, expanding the crimes for which the death penalty could be imposed. It also would have the executions performed in the District, but rather in the home states of the white guys who proposed this in the first place! The methods of execution were not specified on the ballot, and therefore could have included electrocution in Alabama, lethal injection in Texas, or gassing in North Carolina.(2)

The referendum was overwhelmingly defeated, by a 2-to-1 vote. The loudest opposition came from church leaders and local politicians, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly. But the strongest vote against the initiative came from the city's poorest, most crime-ridden areas. The media expressed shock at this, expecting poor Black people who are sick of crime to vote to kill other poor Black people who are sick of being oppressed.(3) The masses from the poorest neighborhoods know that the death penalty doesn't deter killings, and neither does increased police "protection."

"Thou Shalt Not Kill" signs went up all over the city. Ministers opposed the measure on moral and religious grounds rather than political, but noted the disproportionate impact on young Black men, especially when the victim of the killing is white.(4) The problem is, some who voted against this initiative would vote for the death penalty if put on the ballot by D.C. residents.


The death penalty measure was politically tied to the idea of statehood for the District of Columbia. And now that Clinton and more Democratic Congressional representatives have been elected, the statehood furor is moving at greater speeds, with continued begging of Congress for a statute that would create the 51st state. Statehood supporters are calling for voting representation in Congress and two Senators like every other state.

Many believed that if D.C. residents accepted an initiative from Congress, all hopes of attaining statehood would be lost. Further, area politicians are now celebrating Clinton's victory, hoping it will mean increased autonomy and eventual statehood for the District.(5) (Remember, Clinton is the one who wants to put 100,000 more pigs on the streets and who brags about executions in Arkansas during his governorship.)

One person noted that D.C. needs "more funding for education, recreation and after-school programs."(6) While an improvement over cops and executions, government-run educational programs will not stop "crime." The only thing that can possibly stop crime is a revolutionary reallocation of resources to the masses, which will not be accomplished through D.C. statehood.

People fighting for statehood focus on the issue of taxation without representation -- D.C. pays highest federal taxes per capita -- and some liken the situation to that in Azania.(7) But what about those oppressed nations that do live in states that have "representation"?

In 1973 Congress passed the Home Rule Act, which gave the District limited dominion over local affairs, but the federal government still retained veto power over all acts. Since 1979 the D.C. Statehood Party has been campaigning for a statehood initiative to bring more autonomy and self-determination to D.C. The name of the proposed state is New Columbia, a tribute to the colonialist monster Columbus.

The proposed constitution and Bill of Rights sounds much like any other, including "freedom from discrimination" and laws against violence against people because of nationality, poverty, race, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation, etc.(1) These ideas sound great, but Amerikans have yet to see them put into practice by this white imperialist patriarchy.

The call for statehood ignores the fact that Blacks, Latinos, and Indigenous peoples are oppressed even when they live in states with federal representation in Congress. The call for statehood is a liberal one, focussing on the racism of the status of D.C. today. But if we want real change and not just the kind of change promised by Clinton and the Democrats, then we need revolutionary calls for an overthrow of the entire Amerikan system, not a call to include more Blacks in the ranks of Congress and the Senate.

1. "The Statehood Option" in Facts & Issues, League of Women Voters of D.C. Education Fund, 1985.
2. Flier of Equal Justice, USA; A Project of the Quixote Center, Hyattsville, MD.
3. Washington Post 11/5/92, p. C1.
4. Flier of "Committee Against All Killing."
5. W.P. 11/5/92, p. C10.
6. W.P. 11/5/92, p. C14.
7. Community News, Howard University 6/7/90.

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