Category Archives: Revolution

BLUE SUPREMACY IS THE NEW WHITE SUPREMACY


Blue Supremacy.jpg

BLUE SUPREMACY IS
THE NEW WHITE SUPREMACY

“It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it.”
A US Major on the bombing of
Ben Tré in South Vietnam 2/8/1968

We seem to be in the midst of a huge paradigm shift here in the US… It feels as though some kind of critical mass has been reached in regard to the whole country catching up to the hell that mostly Black, Brown, Yellow and Red men, women and children and even some poor white people are catching when it comes to police brutality and police murders. The root of all this of course is that the US has never ever dealt with its racist history.

The sins of the past that have been ignored, in part, to not have to feel the collective pain and shame that would tarnish the well marketed image of the US as the land of the free and home of the brave. It also doesn’t want to revisit the transgressions of the past because america is built upon the genocide of Native Peoples and  the enslavement of Africans and to admit that the wealth and power of the US is built upon genocide and enslavement is to make it no better than any other colonial european power.

The strategy of US domination hasn’t changed since it’s founding. The very same bully tactics that built the country into a world power are the same bully tactics used to maintain it’s place as a world power. When you reach deep into the reasons of why the US has a race problem that it doesn’t want to deal with, you can easily see that its because the US doesn’t know how to be any other way.

The problem of the US – is the problem of race. If the US were to reaches back and own up to its past it would then be forced to own up to its present. Honestly reassessing the present would lead to real changes in the future and not the kinds of changes that result in voting acts or civil rights bills but real change that would threaten american hegemony as a world power. For the US to honestly deal with its race problem is to threaten the US as a world power. The global domination of this country is a house of cards built on a foundation of genocide and enslavement and the ongoing police killings of unarmed Black, Brown, Red, Yellow and even White bodies could quite possibly be the crack in that foundation.

The microcosm of Mike Brown, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile and countless others becomes a reflection of the macrocosm of Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanemo Bay, CIA enhanced interrogation methods, the Cuban blockade and the unconditional support of Israel in the ongoing genocide of Palestinians, just to name a few parallels. In this new age of social media that allows the oppressed to bypass state and corporate media you can see the connections being made between the macrocosm and the microcosm. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip sending messages via twitter to protesters in Ferguson on how to deal with the tear gas enveloping them. The irony isn’t lost that the very same tear gas used by US military forces against protesters in Ferguson is  the very same tear gas used by Israeli military against the Palestinians.  That tear gas is made in the US and paid for by the Pentagon which distributed it to both military forces for the exact same reasons. The microcosm of Ferguson is the macrocosm of the Gaza Strip and the common denominator in all this is US domestic and foreign policy that’s has its root in the racism.

The police state in Ferguson and New York and Oakland  is the police state in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel. Just look at the terminology that’s thrown around. Protesters and protest labeled as domestic “terrorists” and “terrorism”. The harassment and humiliation of “check points” in Gaza and Iraq has it’s equivalent in   “stop and frisk” in New York. The police in the SU are an occupying force who see themselves in “hostile territory” and “surrounded” by a populace that they must “profile” in order to “survive” their “tour of duty”.

The post 9/11 heroic reverence for law enforcement in the US that elevated them from civil servants to saints allowed these agencies sworn to uphold the law to boldly become the very terrorists they were lauded for fighting. The politics of xenophobia and jingoism post 9/11 only inflated the problem and emboldened law enforcement with the idea that it would not need to be held to account for its brutality. From the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques “that went to far” to the NYPD choking of Eric Garner by one police officer using a choke hold banned by the NYPD in 1994 as three other officers held him down, law enforcement has taken that post 9/11 reverence (which was falsely placed to begin with) and used it to insulate themselves from ever having to answer for any of the brutality it imposes. Whether it’s CIA contractors who cannot legally be held responsible for illegally detaining and torturing “terrorists” or grand juries in Ferguson and New York unwilling to prosecute police for killing “suspects” – accountability is not something law enforcement agencies in the US ever have to concern themselves with.

If you think that the connections between CIA tactics like black sites being used to torture “terrorists” and police wanton abuse in the form of frivolous arrests, beatings and even killings is going too far just look at the Chicago police department’s Homan Square. If Chicago police wanted you to “disappear” for a few hours before processing you or wanted to beat you without having to process you at all or even leave you dead in an interview room, they took you to Homan Square. If you’re political beliefs were something the Chicago police didn’t agree with then they brought you there as well. From Guantanamo to Homan Square the politic is the same and the tactics are the similar.

Treyvon Martin In Post Racial America by vagabond ©
Treyvon Martin In Post Racial America by vagabond ©

The bullet proof hubris of law enforcement in the face of accountability is like telling the emperor he has no clothes and the emperor telling you ‘So what?’. An example of this kind of naked hubris reared up it’s ugly head during the Trayvon Martin case when President Obama stated that Trayvon could be his son. Although Trayvon was not killed by law enforcement it was still a shot at law enforcement because of the way the case was handled from the eventual arrest and prosecution of George Zimmerman to the not guilty verdict. Law enforcement didn’t like President Obama being Black for a moment and commenting on Trayvon Martin because although in this case it wasn’t law enforcement that killed Trayvon, it was someone with a similar mentality to law enforcement. And how many other cases of murder by law enforcement fit the profile of what happened to Trayvon?

In another direct indictment of law enforcement by a politician, the mayor of New York City Bill De Blasio whose son is Black and is placed in the unenviable position of having to choose between his role as a politician (which have historically always supported the idea that police not be held accountable for their actions) and being a father who can get a call in the middle of the night about his own Black son. When DeBlasio expressed how troubled he was over the grand jury deciding not to prosecute in the police choking death of Eric Garner he immediately called the Justice Department and asked for an investigation. He also talked about having to talk to his Black son about how to deal with the police. The NYPD PBA President Pat Lynch who never saw an incident of police misconduct, brutality or killing that he couldn’t defend immediately held a press conference and said Mayor DeBlasio “threw cops under the bus”.

When two NYC police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Lui were  killed by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a Baltimore man who it was sais killed them in retaliation for the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, Mayor De Blasio came to the hospital. All along the hallway police officers were lined up in support of the two fallen officers and as Mayor Di Blasio walked down the hall of the hospital these officers turned their backs on him. It was a protest against Mayor Di Blasio’s recent criticism against the NYPD.

The impunity that law enforcement operates under in the US has reached absurd new heights. Who do these law enforcement agencies think they work for if not Mayor’s or President’s? Whether it’s the CIA defending its enhanced interrogation techniques or it’s the NYPD not discipling an officer for using a banned chokehold that killed a man who posed a threat to no one, it feels as though law enforcement isn’t going to accept any criticism for its actions. The non-chalant attitude of law enforcement towards criticism from the very people they are sworn to protect and serve has always been an issue. From the revelation of  COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgram) tactics by the FBI during the era of the Black Panthers or the American Indian Movement and beyond to civilian deaths at the hands of local police departments, the critique of american law enforcement techniques has always fallen on deaf ears due in large part to the political establishment always taking the side of law enforcement.

Mike-Brown by vagabond ©
Mike-Brown by vagabond ©

The daily protests in Ferguson that went on for months have dragged the issues of police brutality and the killing of unarmed Black men by police onto a national stage. From the massive protest in New York City over Eric Garner to the recent unrest in Baltimore over Freddie Gray the police brutality show is on a national tour. And if you think you’re immune just wait until the national show pulls into your town. That’s not to say that there isn’t a local or regional horror show of political theater of so-called “justifiable” police killings happening all across the country, it’s just that some shows rise to the level of national attention.

Whether the show is local or regional though a wave is building and the nation as a whole is starting to see and feel the injustice that passes for law enforcement on a daily basis. It’s gotten to the point where even many politicians who have historically always blindly defended law enforcement are questioning police tactics. You would think that law enforcement would be somewhat nervous and worried about the sudden erosion of their most ardent supporters but they seem be completely inoculated against any criticism. Instead law enforcement seems emboldened and is digging in for the long haul to defend the indefensible.

It seem that this idea that law enforcement can do no wrong, propagated by politicians, the media and the majority of white america has convinced law enforcement  itself that it can do no wrong. And now we have a law enforcement system in america that fears nothing in terms of accountability. Not its citizenry, not the politicians who always defend them, not the district attorneys they work with or the judges they face or the grand juries they must answer to. And why would or should law enforcement fear any part of the system when that system on a whole has historically always encouraged a hands off approach to law enforcement? A part of this emboldened behavior of law enforcement is also coming from that misplaced post 9/11 hero worship of law enforcement.

The other part of that unrepentant and emboldened attitude that law enforcement has taken is coming from the history of racism in the US. The very foundation of the US is built on a racialized genocide and enslavement and so it follows that its institutions are also going to be built on that very same foundation. Law enforcement in the US has always been racist because the US is a racist nation. The front line of white supremacy in america has always been law enforcement.  The hiring of Black and Brown officers means nothing when the institutions of law enforcement demand that they stop being Black and Brown and be Blue. The racial integration of law enforcement doesn’t negate white supremacy because what was once white supremacy is now blue supremacy.

I CAN BREATHE

In a strange way the flagrant disregard of criticism by law enforcement whether by people at the bottom who suffer the most at the hands of police brutality or by politicians at the top who have always blindly supported police and their brutality and are suddenly seeing the monster they have created, is something that really shouldn’t shock anyone. The guiding force in US policing both in terms of its foreign policy and domestic policy is one in which the US can do no wrong. The criticism leveled at the CIA on enhanced interrogation techniques that amount to torture falls on ears that are as deaf as police unions.

In the face of a broad nationwide movement to take stock of how  law enforcement deals with this epidemic of killing the very citizens its sworn to protect, the Fraternal Order Of Police is  asking the US Congress that police be included in hate crimes legislation. Hating police would be a hate crime. Instead of law enforcement trying to investigate their procedures, they are looking to defend them. “Right now, it’s a hate crime if you attack someone solely because of the color of their skin, but it ought to be a hate crime if you attack someone solely because of the color of their uniform as well,” said Jim Pasco, the executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police. White supremacy looks for some protection under the cover of Blue supremacy in order to nullify any leveling of the playing field.

New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is asking law makers in NY to consider making resisting arrest a felony instead of a misdemeanor. This would further solidify the current thinking by police and their supporters that if you are resisting arrest then you are guilty. Resisting arrest opens you up to police brutality and in many cases a “justified” killing by police. So instead of law enforcement seeing if their policing tactics are too aggressive they are doubling down by defending those tactics with attempts at more legislation that will protect police in cases of police misconduct. We now live in a Kafkaesque world of Orewellian double speak where you can be charged with resisting arrest without having been charged with a crime to be arrested for, in the first place.

In another instance of white supremacy exercising it’s might in police culture there is a lawsuit in New York City by officers of color who say that they must meet arrest and summons quotas or face reprimands. The officers claim that they must make at least one arrest a day and write at least 20 summonses in precincts where the majority of people are people of color. So if a person of color wants to join the police force to “do some good” or “change it from the inside” they are thwarted by a system that is forcing them to continue a long tradition of white supremacy in US policing.

Over 5000 people have been killed by police in america since 9/11. That’s more people than soldiers killed in the Iraq war. The chances of being killed by a cop in america are 29 times greater than being killed by a terrorist. If you’re a Black male you are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than if you are a white male. When you think about how worried people are about the threat of terrorism and the amount of time, money and energy spent on combatting it and you look at the actual terror of police brutality and killings you wonder how priorities can be so misplaced. Or maybe you can have a more cynical view of it and realize that the priorities of terrorism and policing are historically in keeping with american racism.

The consistent protests in Ferguson went viral thanks to the savvy use by protesters of social media and the world started sending messages of support and solidarity. It was this global support and solidarity which helped open the door to the parents of Mike Brown going before the United Nations to speak about police brutality and police killings of unarmed Black men in the US. It seems to have made an impact. Following that the UN began pressuring the US to review it’s record and make substantial changes in the way it polices its citizens. This strategy of going before the UN is not a new idea. It was Malcolm X who made the argument that the race issue in america should go before the United Nations and not before the US Government. Malcolm X argued that the race problem in the US was a problem of human rights not of second class citizenry. He knew that exposing the race problem in the US to a world stage would erode it’s ceaseless marketing attempts at being the greatest nation of freedom and democracy in the world.

The powder keg that is the race problem problem in the US was bound to explode in the front lines of law enforcement because it’s where the US race problem is most blatant, most raw and most naked. The police murders of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley John Crawford, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile were all unarmed Black people and the capture of actual suspected Pennsylvania cop killer Eric Frein, the capture of James Egan Holmes who went on a shooting rampage in a movie theater in Colorado, or the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the suspected Boston marathon bomber who are all white, is a glaring example of the racism in the US. That’s not to say that Eric Frein, or James Egan Holmes or Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should have been killed by police (an absurd statement that i must qualify because racism is such an explosive issue and because i’m not white it might be construed that in my critique of a white supremacy system that i might want to call for their deaths) but if actual suspected cop killers and movie theater shooters and marathon bombers can face the police and live to tell the tale why can’t unarmed Black people? The answer is simple and plain. Because race is a problem that the US won’t tend to and the reason it won’t tend to it is because it threatens the very existence of this nation as we know it, both on a foreign and domestic scale.

Eric Garner channeling Franz Fanon by vagabond ©
Eric Garner channeling Franz Fanon by vagabond ©

The problem with the US maintaining white supremacy in a domestic sense  is that america is becoming less white everyday. The problem with the US maintaining white supremacy in a foreign policy sense is that the power of the US is eroding everyday to so called developing and third world nations with the rise of China, Brazil, and  India and the defiance of these nations to those policies in Venezuela and Bolivia. In order for the US to maintain it’s ideology of white supremacy domestically it must transform that white supremacy to a blue supremacy. White supremacy has been allowed to evolve into blue supremacy in the name of law and order. The problem is that with the US imprisoning more people than anyone else in the world and 60% of that prison population coming from Black and Brown people who make up 29% of the US population it’s not difficult for people of color to accept the idea that white supremacy to blue supremacy.

The same analogy applies to the US foreign policy as world cop. Every nation that the US has invaded and attacked since World War II has been a nation of non-white people with the possible exception of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. The problem it’s running up against in moving from white supremacy to blue supremacy is that both domestically and abroad people of all races and nations see the pattern of systemic US racism for what it is and are standing in resistance  to the Blue supremacy of the US.

The convergence of this new Blue supremacy and its ideology both domestically with the killing of unarmed Black men and internationally with the enhanced interrogation techniques of the CIA and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is most evident in the Pentagon bringing it’s surplus equipment from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to local police departments. The new blue supremacy like the old white supremacy uses law and order as its smoke screen for its ongoing brutality. The problem with this new Blue supremacy is that the law comes from the same white supremacy it always has. There is an equivalency in how the US wants to deal with its global hegemony and those who oppose it whether that be domestically or abroad.

Capitalism Under Police Protection by vagabond ©
Capitalism Under Police Protection by vagabond ©

The paradigm shift in the US in recent years against this Blue supremacy has the potential to be the catalyst that the US needs to face its racist history and all that it’s wrought. If that dialogue and the work that surely must come after it is done then there is a chance at making a substantial change that is too long in coming. The  most difficult thing that the US has to face in putting down its racism is all the benefits that it’s reaped from that racism. This is perhaps the real reason that the US will never look at its race problem because the race problem has always been only the frosting on the layer cake that is class war. If racism were ever to fall in the US not only would everyone find some equality in terms of race but also in terms of class both domestically and potentially internationally. The police and the military have always been the front line troops in helping elites amass wealth and so the battle against the white supremacy that amassed that wealth has become the Blue supremacy that runs deeper than any of us care to imagine…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1wY

HOW YOU LIVE


HOW YOU LIVE
how you live by vagabond © (for mumia)

how you live
(for mumia)
“the state would rather give me an uzi than a microphone”
– mumia abu-jamal

it was decided somewhere
that i was something to fear
my existence
makes them uncomfortable
they didn’t like
what i had to say
they pictured me
killing a cop
and framed it
to hang above
an electric chair
on death row
thinking they could
muzzle me like a dog
with fear of death

but i live my life
behind the walls
behind the locks
behind the doors
behind the guards
23 solitary hours a day
with an hour outside
also alone
it seems my voice
instills fear in them still
with all that power
they still fear
a man in a cell
with a voice

in court
i forced them
to take down
the framed picture of me
hanging over the electric chair
and that scared them
even more
so they conspired hep c for me
and refuse to treat me
putting the picture
over my prison hospital bed
thinking
there’s more than one way
to kill a man
they fail to realize
that it’s not
how you die
but how you live

-vagabond ©

Note: April being poetry month i wanted to challenge myself to have a poem with an accompanying piece of art for each day of the month posted here in this space… Today being the birthday of celebrated author and journalist US held political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal i decided today’s art and poem would be for him… Share what you like… both online and off…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1MD

TRANS-SISTER


Trans-sister by vagabond ©
Trans-sister by vagabond ©

A while back i illustrated a book of poetry called Last Of The Po’Ricans Y Otras Afro-artifacts. One of the poems in the book was called Trans-sister and it was about Puerto Rican Trans woman Sylvia Rivera and her fight for equality and justice… Sylvia Rivera was at Stonewall on that fateful day of June 28, 1969… With the ruling by the US Supreme Court that the entire US must recognize Marriage Equality i thought it important to remind people of that the modern day LGBTQ struggle for rights was born at the Stonewall Inn in NYC…

It’s good that the LGBTQ brothers and sisters have some equal ground to stand upon after so many years of pain and struggle and it’s a moment worth celebrating… At the same time we have to remember that homophobia, gay homeless youth, trans phobia, and the everyday violence that people face for being themselves is something that continues… So let’s celebrate this victory and use it strengthen the other work that must be done…

Shortlink:  http://wp.me/p1eniL-1Av

THE PUERTO RICAN MANDELA


The Puerto Rican Mandela by vagabond ©
The Puerto Rican Mandela by vagabond ©

A few weeks ago i was asked by Benjamin Ramos of Pro-Libertad, an organization dedicated to the freedom of Puerto Rican political prisoners, to design a poster for US held Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera. For those who don’t know Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US since 1898. For more on that whole situation check this out… Ever since it’s colonization there’s been a resistance movement to liberate Puerto Rico from the US to quote Malcolm X “…by any and all means necessary”. Some of those means have included armed struggle which is the right of colonized peoples in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples under UN Resolution 1514.

Oscar Lopez Rivera is a freedom fighter not unlike the most famous political prisoner in the world, Nelson Mandela. Oscar is 72 and has been in prison since 1981, that’s almost half his life. He was charged, convicted and sentenced to 70 years for the crime of seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government. Contrary to the lies and misinformation fed by the US government and the corporate media Oscar is not charged with killing or maiming anyone. He is charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government.

After i designed the image above Benjamin asked if i knew anyone who could print some posters and postcards. i reached out to the worker owned union shop of offset printers, Radix Media. i worked closely with Lantz Arroyo and he was able to print a run of 11″x17″ posters and 4″x6″ postcards of the image…

Puerto Rican Mandela posters
Puerto Rican Mandela posters

Some of the posters will be used as media to help spread the word about Oscar and some will be for sale with the proceeds going towards Oscar’s commissary. If you’re looking to try and get one let me know and we’ll work something out. i imagine Oscar will use some of those funds we raise to get art supplies since he is a painter. Check out some of Oscar’s work here…

The international campaign to free Oscar Lopez Rivera is asking people to call both the White House and demand that Oscar Lopez Rivera be released unconditionally. Call President Obama at 202-456-1111 and leave a message!  Let him know that Oscar Lopez Rivera has been in prison for too long and deserves to go home!  

Sample Message for your phone call:
President Obama, I ask that you free Puerto Rican Political Prisoner, Oscar Lopez Rivera.  Since 1981, he has been in jail for fighting for Puerto Rican independence; he never committed a violent crime and has been a model prisoner.  I ask that you follow in the foot steps of Presidents Truman, Carter, and Clinton, who freed other Puerto Rican activists, and set Oscar free!

For more info on Oscar Lopez Rivera the video below is from Democracy Now and gives some more detailed information on both Oscar and the campaign to free him…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1A9

#GIFT4OSCAR


FREE OSCAR by vagabond ©
FREE OSCAR by vagabond ©

Today is 3 Kings Day… It’s also US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war Oscar Lopez Rivera’s birthday. He’s 72 years old. For 33 of those years he’s been in US prisons as the longest held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war. ‪#‎FREEOSCARLOPEZNOW‬

There is a Twitter campaign going on right now to pressure US President Barak Obama to free Oscar Lopez Rivera. This campaign is being dubbed #Gift4Oscar in which people create a salvo of art, music, writings, videos, and tweets to #FreeOscarLopezRiveraNow in an effort to educate people about Oscar Lopez Rivera and to help bring about his freedom. Over the years i have done various pieces of art for Oscar’s freedom… This is my ‪#‎Gift4Oscar‬

You’ll notice one of the pieces is the cover of a ‘zine that the RICANSTRUCTION Network did called SALVO which featured Oscar on the cover along with an essay from him on art and prison. You can download a PDF copy of the ‘zine at the Audio Visual Terrorism blog.

These pieces are free to use for the struggle towards his release… i only ask the proper credit be given…

by vagabond ©

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1xo

100 Fires


100 Fires by vagabond ©
100 Fires by vagabond ©

100 fires
(for Camilo Cienfuegos)
February 6, 1932 – October 28, 1959

we fight today
so we can dance tomorrow

we reject this history that marginalizes us
we prefer to rewrite it with ourselves as the heroes
the bullets flying past our heads
headlong into the danger without hesitation

we fight today
so we can drink tomorrow

the fear kept us compliant
but the joy of defiance is intoxicating
as we charge death now with a smile
awake in knowing

we fight today
so we can tell the stories tomorrow

and this new found courage
sparks a doubt that lights 100 fires
and burns down everything
that ever stood in our way

we fight today
so we can love tomorrow

100 fires to remind us of what was
and what could be
the phoenix of the future burns bright
in the ashes of the past

we fight today
so we can laugh tomorrow

100 fires burning a hole
where our uncertainty resides
the embers floating upward
carried on the smoke of our oppressors bones

– vagabond ©

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1ww

WHO’S READY?


Right-Side-Up

Who’s ready?

Who’s ready to rip the throats of politicians to silence the lie and clear the air of the noise pollution so the voiceless can be heard…?

Who’s ready to liberate the airwave frequencies of the toxic fascism of fear and financial profits…?

Who’s ready the bite the hand that sustains our hunger…?

Who’s ready to stop taking the medicine that’s making us sick…?

Who’s ready to feed bankers silver spoons either in liquid or solid form, we’ll let them decide…?

Who’s ready to make the cops come out with their hands up…?

Who’s ready to surround theses many Jericho prisons and blow horns for seven days until the walls come tumbling down…?

Who’s ready to level the playing field by swinging a wrecking ball into stock exchanges and driving bulldozers across banks…?

Who’s ready to light a match to the money that’s been blocking the warmth & the light of the sun…?

Who’s ready to pull back the curtain to light up and disinfect the bleak future that’s hobbling in with a bad cough…?

Anyone…?

Anyone…?

Anyone…?

Don’t worry this isn’t an indictment of you, i’m not an armchair revolutionary poet, i’m afraid too, of what they can do…

We know the future fear is greater in comparison to the present fear but i guess it’s not a sure thing until it’s too late…

But when will our future fear, surpass the present fear?

What will it take for our future fear to give us a present courage?

– vagabond ©

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1wc