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Under Lock & Key

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[New Afrika] [Black Lives Matter] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 71]
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Interview With Community Movement Builders On Their Recent Struggle On the Wendy’s Site

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Several weeks ago, Rayshard Brooks – a 27-year-old New Afrikan man – was murdered by the Atlanta Police Department at a Wendy’s at South Atlanta. Media reported that armed protestors have set up barricades at the Wendy’s which by then have been burned down and graffitied up with support for Rayshard Brooks’s life, the Black Lives Matter movement, and anti-police messages. On the 4th of July, it was reported that the 7 year old New Afrikan child – Secoriea Turner – had been fatally shot near the Wendy’s site in a car while with her parents.

Due to the tragic death of Secoriea Turner, and the violence that heightened at the 4th of July weekend among the Atlanta masses, Comprador-bourgeois representative Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declared that the armed New Afrikans must be vacated from the Wendy’s. From then on, the organization Community Movement Builders (CMB) stepped in with regards to showing support and calling for a Peace Site at the Wendy’s. Here is the interview with CMB leader, Kamau Franklin:

1. The armed protestors in Wendy’s have been occupying the site since past several weeks. Have these protestors been part of the Community Movement Builders?

Actually no, these protesters armed and unarmed have been from the local community. They were inspired to act after the killing of Mr. Brooks. My understanding is that some protesters provided security because there were threats of white supremacist coming to the Wendy’s. We were just getting involved right before the tragic shooting of the 8-year-old girl outside of the Wendy’s. Our understanding is that there are competing narratives as to what took place. Which does not make the events any more tragic and has caused the protesters to expand their vision for the peace center to include the young girl.

2. On Monday of July 14th, there have been protests declaring to “Take Back the Wendy’s” and calling for a creation of a peace center. What will the peace center’s role be in the struggle against oppression and the goals of CMB overall?

The role of the peace center is to make sure that community control is established over that property and that Wendy’s is not allowed to rebuild another hamburger chop-shop, but instead something needed and valuable is established in the community. The center will create programing against violence and will at the same time highlight the American role in perpetrating violence on Black people and how we can stop it from happening. For CMB it is important for us that we continue to advance the call for liberated territory (places where the community is in direct democratic control of land, organizations and institutions) and against the corporate and development class with support from city officials who continue to treat working class, poor and Black people as expendable.

3. Mayor Bottoms has declared that the protestors should be cleared out due to the violence that happened in ATL over the 4th of July weekend and that she will no longer be “negotiating” with the protestors. How do you think the actions of “Take Back the Wendy’s” and the call to build the peace center affected this protocol by the city government?

Well the city was never negotiating in good faith. The city was stalling hoping the protesters would go away and or possibly maneuvering to take back over the space. It seems very disingenuous that Mayor Bottoms would hold a press conference with Turner’s family but has never done this is similar cases where people have been killed in senseless violence. Our goal is to keep the pressure on to force the corporate owners and the city to have dialogue over the future of this space.

4. A lot of the news media has covered the reports of CMB’s actions in the Wendy’s site. Has there been any misrepresentation of what the news media have been reporting? If so, what are some misconceptions that you would like to clear out regarding CMB and its actions on the planned peace center?

I think its obvious that the media was looking for violence to break out and was looking to paint protesters as violent. The idea of community control over space as opposed to the capitalist private land grab model is what the corporate media supports and elevates.

END INTERVIEW

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[Black Lives Matter] [New Afrika] [Police Brutality] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 71]
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On the Tragic Death of Secoriea Turner

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A Demonstrator in front of the burning Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks and later Secoriea Turner were both killed.

What led up to the murder?

On 4 July 2020, 7-year-old Secoriea Turner was fatally shot with her parents present inside the car which she was shot in.(1) Her death has been widespread news in Georgia and has been a popular talking point on the discourse surrounding the oppressed’s action against the racial/national oppression of the United $tates today.

The scene of the incident was the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was murdered by the Atlanta Police Department (APD) on 12 June 2020. The leading narrative of how the shooting went down is that one of the armed barricaders of the Wendy’s had shot at the car that Secoriea was in.(2) According to Community Movement Builders – the Non-Government Organization who called for building of a “peace center” on the razed down Wendy’s site – there were threats of white vigilante-type organizations coming to the Wendy’s site and the local New Afrikan masses armed themselves to honor and defend the life of Rayshard Brooks.(3)

The Wendy’s barricade was started by the revolutionary spirit of the New Afrikan masses to defend themselves against amerikan chauvinism and so-called “white supremacy.” Members and supporters of the armed masses have burned down the Wendy’s murder site, and graffiti tagged signs of support for the broad mass movement of New Afrikans against occupying police and the life of Rayshard Brooks. Because the masses they were armed; because they received threats of amerikan chauvinist presence; and because of the APD’s presence in Atlanta, a barricade and check point was necessary. Tensions were high.

It is not crystal clear as to how it went down at the hour of the murder of Secoriea Turner, but we do know the broad facts: APD committed an illegal killing of Rayshard Brooks; amerikan chauvinist elements threatened to come to the site of Rayshard Brook’s killing; New Afrikans barricaded and armed themselves from police and amerikan violence; and a 7-year-old New Afrikan child has been murdered among the conflict.

Should Communists Condemn the Barricade?

When the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) implemented a campaign of bombings across Great Britain (primarily Northern Ireland) the masses of the Northern Irish people were tired of the violence from all sides. Out of the masses the petty-bourgeois/national bourgeois elements were especially tired. So the current and then would-be compradors and neo-colonial leaders of the Sinn Fein signed a peace treaty called the Good Friday agreement, in which they ended up condemning the so called “terrorists” of the Irish Republican movement and the violence coming with it.

In the Philippines today, a Protracted People’s War is being waged by communists organizing the peasants of the countryside. The communists have often been declared as the number one security threat by the fascist U.$.-Duterte government, and within the revolution there are elements of the masses also tired of the violence coming with revolution. The Communist Party of the Philippines have been active in calling for a peace deal in past years, but unlike the Sinn Fein of Northern Ireland which abandoned and condemned armed struggle, they did not call for the turning in of weapons by the New People’s Army and instead asked for the killings by the Duterte regime to stop in the cities and the red base areas of the countryside in which the communists had a “stronghold” in.

Both of these examples of calling for peace are from far away countries with different conditions than the ATL, but they are relevant as ever to the international fight against Neo-colonial tactics of imperialism. The violence that comes to the masses with revolution and the contradiction among the people are serious questions communists must be ready to solve in order to overthrow imperialism.

While we Maoists do see the death of Secoriea Turner as a tragedy and our hearts and condolences go out to her family and close ones, we do not agree with the neo-colonial New Afrikan “leaders” actions which have bulldozed the Wendy’s site and the paternalistic negotiation attitudes in which these “leaders” dealt with Community Movement Builders.(4) The comprador-bourgeoisie mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in fact alluded to the armed New Afrikans defending Rayshard Brook’s life and legacy as “the enemy within.”(5)

“We’re fighting the enemy within when we are shooting each other up in our streets,” said the comprador mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

“We’ve had over 75 shootings in the city over the past several weeks,” said Bottoms. “You can’t blame that on APD [Atlanta Police Department].”

Maoists do not blame the APD for those 75 specific shootings in the span of several weeks. But we do blame national oppression, the pseudo-communists’ inaction in building independent institutions among oppressed nation communities, and the lumpenization that came with the so-called “war on drugs” on the 75 shootings. And we take action to combat national oppression and lumpenization as well.

Going Beyond the Barricade

The failures of the barricade shows the limitations of spontaneity, and the necessity for an organized and self-reliant people’s institution designed to serve the people. There are dogmatic revisionist “Marxists” who claim that the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theory of an organized vanguard to lead the people’s struggle and build independent institutions goes against the writings of Marx. These “Marxists” claim that capitalism’s decay will naturally rise the people up due to oppressive conditions. Even in the Third World where proletarians and peasants are the majority, and with the writings of Marx and Engels on the Paris Commune, we see that a proletarian power and proletarian state is needed to overthrow imperialism and preserve socialism. And history has proved that ultimately, political power grows from the barrel of guns. Maoists do not condemn the masses desire to defend themselves from white supremacist and fascist presence, and in fact applaud it. We just believe that it should be crystallized into a more disciplined focus of serving the people and building independent political power.

Notes: 1. Atlanta mayor says ‘enough is enough’ after girl fatally shot near scene of Rayshard Brooks’ death, 6 July 2020, CNN.
2. Ibid.
3. Greyhound, July 2020, Interview With Community Movement Builders On Their Recent Struggle On the Wendy’s Site, Under Lock and Key.
4. Atlanta Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed gets demolished, 14 July 2020, New York Daily News.
5. Ibid.

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[Organizing] [MIM] [Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support] [ULK Issue 70]
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Q&A with MIM(Prisons), Spring 2020

Maoist Internationalist Movement

Where you been?

We’ve been here, at least some of us. Our last issue of ULK was ULK 69, which came out in October 2019. In that issue we announced a planned pause to launch a new newsletter in January. Those plans fell apart in December when most of those comrades left the project.

Wait, i’m new, i never even got ULK 69

If you wrote us for the first time after we mailed out ULK 69 you should have got some kind of response from us. Many new subscribers were only sent a back issue of ULK and no further info. This issue (70) should get everyone up to speed. However, due to the shelter-in-place orders and our limited resources we are not doing a mailing to our full subscriber list. Only those who write in after this issue is released will be sent a copy.

How are you doing?

We’re doing as good as we can. The setbacks in December were challenging. But those of us who remain are healthy so far, and are not facing any immediate setbacks from the pandemic. In fact, we saw a 42% increase in data pulled from our website in April, which we imagine is related to people sheltering in place to avoid COVID-19.

What have you been up to?

We’ve actually done a lot in 2020. Before the comrades left this winter we had spent a lot of time working with our partners in RAIM to develop plans for the newsletter, as well as developing our ideological unity around Maoism. Besides some edits to our definition of Maoism, we put out an extensive response to the book Continuity and Rupture, which goes through the history of Maoism here in occupied Turtle Island and relates it to the International Communist Movement (ICM). We could not fit that essay in this issue of ULK, but if you are interested please write in to request a copy. You can also get a copy of the book itself from us for $8 (stamps or ask us for info on how to pay by check) or work trade. It is a good explanation of some of the concepts behind Maoism and where it comes from. However, our essay addresses some serious disagreements with the historical facts and some of the author’s political line. We recommend it to all who are studying Maoism.

Since the last ULK we’ve focused much energy outside of prisons, to invest in building a more resilient movement on the streets. Of note, we launched a new online platform that has been in the work for years, which has allowed us to build with a number of new comrades. We released plans for the launch of Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support (AIPS), a mass organization for people on the outside to support USW and MIM(Prisons) work. Our subscribers can now link up their outside contacts with AIPS to make direct contributions to Maoist prisoner support in the United $tates. Just have your people get in touch with us via our website www.prisoncensorship.info/contact .

We took the opportunity of the intro study group coordinator leaving to revamp the entire course, both the study questions as well as the format. This new format allows people to complete the course at their own pace, rather than having to wait for the next course to start, or for others to answer. We hope this means our subscribers will be able to develop their political consciousness more rapidly and with sustained interest. The new format is already showing good results in the responses we have seen.

The introductory study course has been open to prisoners for many years, and hundreds of people have participated over that time. In 2020, we started offering our intro study course online for the first time. We are linking AIPS comrades to our intro study group participants inside, to help build bridges between inside and outside, and to help everyone develop their political consciousness more deeply.

Despite the pause in ULK, we have sent in 100s of pieces of literature each month through our Free Political Books to Prisoners Program.

Are all your programs still running?

No, we simply cannot do what we were doing until we can get more comrade time dedicated to those tasks. This will happen by training new people and/or having others provide the money we need to keep operating so existing comrades have more time to put in.

Some tasks we cannot sustain at this time are producing Spanish-language content and coordinating the Prisoners’ Legal Clinic. Our capacity to appeal censorship on behalf of MIM Distributors will be even more focused on instances that are being actively fought by our subscribers. We will still send subscribers Spanish language materials that are already produced, as well as legal guides available through our Free Books program.

But ULK is back?

We’re not sure yet. Our plan A was to launch a new newsletter, in partnership with other cells/groups, uniting on MIM’s 3 cardinal principals (see MIM(Prisons) points 4-6). This newsletter would have more than tripled our distribution, with most copies being distributed outside of prisons. We still think we need such a newsletter to unite a broader Maoist Internationalist Movement. But until people step up with the effort, money and political line to do this project, this plan is on hold.

Plan B is to recontinue Under Lock & Key, to serve as the voice of the anti-imperialist prisoner movement led by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism through MIM(Prisons)’s role as editor. ULK came out every other month and was free to all prisoners of the United $nakes who wrote us every 6 months to stay on the mailing list. Whether we can return to that model is still being considered.

Plan C would be doing something less regular, with less content and/or more restricted distribution, which is effectively what we are doing with ULK 70. Before we make any concrete decisions, we decided to put out ULK 70 as a first step in sorting out our longer-term plan. We wanted to send our readers an update, including all of the indepth content included in this issue. We wanted to let people know we’re still here and still serious. And we wanted to make one more call for support. How we proceed will depend on the response from our subscribers, as well as potential contributors outside. And, like the rest of the world, we are not sure what will be the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

How can i support the newsletter?

In order to consistently produce new issues of Under Lock & Key, we must fill the gap in resources we had before we stopped. This gap is in both comrade time and money. One of our biggest successes in the last couple months has been the launch of the online platform, and the streamlining of the process of getting prisoner writings typed and published on our website. Helping out with typing, proof-reading, formatting and even writing articles for ULK is one way to help. Providing consistent funding is another. Comrades in prison, perhaps you can help recruit people to do both. You don’t have to contribute a lot, but we do need supporters who can contribute consistently, that we can rely on to keep the newsletter going.

To reignite Plan A we need to develop cells within MIM and mass organizations that are doing work on the ground that produce diverse content for such a newsletter, an outlet for distributing it, and funding.

Currently, Plan C might include publishing a newsletter whenever we can. This model has the benefit of responding to reader support; as support goes up, the newsletter becomes more regular. However, we think consistency is important up front, especially if we are to be effective at keeping our imprisoned subscribers informed in a relatively timely manner, as we must do to sustain our movement.

Therefore, we are asking for everyone’s support in making ULK a regular newsletter once again, to play its unique role of publicizing and supporting anti-imperialist organizing in the dungeons of the belly of the beast! For people inside, write to your people outside and encourage them to get involved. For people outside, contact us with a pledge of how much you can contribute every 2 months, in work and/or funding.

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