Sunday, October 17, 2010

Black Agenda Morning Report Monday, October 18, 2010 - Beyond Foreclosure Fraud

Beyond Foreclosure Fraud: Moving to Take Back the Land through Strategic Action

According to the New York Times, the Washington Post and other mainstream media, a major story has been uncovered with the expose of the foreclosure fraud crisis, primarily as a result of good journalism and the self-corrective measures of the US legal system. In fact, almost nothing could be further from the truth. Grassroots organizers and legal advocates throughout the US have been raising issues of foreclosure fraud, predatory lending, and a range of other abuses against working class homeowners and tenants for years (if not decades). What the mainstream media purposefully omits, is the increasing pressure put on the banks, the politicians, and the courts from varied social responders and social movements demanding answers, accountability and change that forced them to pay attention to this issue.

Foreclosure fraud, while no doubt massive in scope and discriminatory in nature, is but a symptom of a deeper structural crisis. The singular focus that the Banks, State’s Attorney Generals, and Congressional leaders are putting on the fraud issue will in no way resolve the crisis. But, solving the crisis isn’t their aim or objective. Their aims are simple: to stop the bleeding, create an airtight foreclosure closing process, and reinforce the existing system to maintain their interests. If these forces have their way, these will be the sad final outcomes that emerge from the energy generated by this current frenzy. Making sure that these aren’t the outcomes is where forces of progressive social consciousness come in.

As one of the many progressive social forces struggling for systemic change, particularly as it relates to land ownership, housing rights and ecological sustainability, the Land and Housing Action Group (LHAG) of the Take Back the Land Movement (TBLM) believes that the broad social movement pressing for housing rights and justice must press the following transitional demands to ensure there is a more democratic and equitable outcome to the struggle over foreclosure fraud, outcomes that can potentially heighten the overall contradictions within the system of capitalist exploitation and appropriation that is the root of the crisis.
1. The Government must take over and directly administer all of the loan modification programs it has established since 2008, eliminating the Banks from the process to ensure that homeowners and renters are adequately protected and housed.
2. All of the foreclosure fraud victims, be they homeowners or tenants, must receive restitution for their financial hardships and the criminal liability perpetrated against them by the Banks and Government institutions and agencies responsible for the execution of the fraudulent actions.
3. All the homes and housing units currently being processed and/or warehoused by Banks saved by the TARP program be publicly identified and utilized as “public housing” and opened to inhabitation by the millions of individuals and families displaced from their homes or the tens of thousands languishing on public and/or affordable housing waiting lists.
4. That the aforementioned public housing units be transformed into cooperative housing units and land trusts to be directly governed and administered on a local level by the impacted families and communities.

None of these demands can be realized without the concerted direct action of those most affected and those in solidarity in critical mass. To push these demands forward, the Land and Housing Action Group is encouraging all progressive forces pressing for systemic change to join us in calling and organizing for the following courses of action:
1. Nationally coordinated days of action against the Banks, Government Institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Congress and the Obama administration to utilize the millions of foreclosed properties as public housing for the countless displaced and homeless families.
2. A nationally coordinated rent strike of homeowners and renters facing foreclosure and eviction to press the Banks and the Government to meet the aforementioned demands.
3. Community occupations of the millions of vacant properties and land to transform into cooperative housing and land trusts to ensure the sustainability of our families and communities.

For more information on how you can support or join the Take Back the Land Movement email or call 404.588.9761. For more information visit and

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Black Agenda Morning Shot 10.11.10 - Protest against Jewish National Fund in Atlanta, Georgia

View Vanassa Faraj and Wafa Azari of Movement to End Israeli Apartheid - Georgia (MEIA - G) speak on a direct action and attacks suffered at hands of zionist supporters in the course of a protest of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) conference in Atlanta, GA on Sunday, October 10, 2010. The demo was organized by the Stop the JNF Campaign and supported by organizations like MEIA - G and others in the Atlanta Metro Area.

To see direct video footage of the demonstration view the link below. Eight people among the protesters present entered the JNF conference to denounce it and its false claims to be an "environmental" organization. The JNF is a major historic and current player in the colonization of Palestine and the dispossession of its people's from their native lands.

For more information on the Stop the JNF Campaign visit email

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Moving Forward: A One-Year Reflection and Next Steps for the National Take Back the Land Movement

From September 10 through 12, a year after gathering in Atlanta, Georgia to discuss how to combine forces on a national level to build and inspire a transformative movement to change land and property relations in the US, the organizations of the Land and Housing Action Group (LHAG) – the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Survivors Village, and Take Back the Land (Miami) – met in Chicago, Illinois to discuss what’s been done, how things have progressed, what was accomplished, where were going, and how we seek to get there in the period ahead.

In this discussion, we also met with allied organizations from the mid-west region that embarked on the journey to Take Back the Land and realize the human right to housing, these being Take Back the Land (Madison) and the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League. Collectively we arrived at some basic conclusions about the state of social dynamics since September 2009, including:
• That despite decreased coverage in the mainstream media the foreclosure and eviction crisis is in fact deepening, resulting in ever increasing homelessness, both hidden and visible
• That the banks, transnational corporations, and both major political parties are intent on advancing, rather than retreating from, neo-liberal strategies and policies, like PETRA (link), to resolve the housing crisis in favor of the interests of finance capital over and above those of the working class and the poor who are being displaced and dispossessed by the crisis
• That despite the lack of media coverage, there has been a tremendous amount of resistance against displacement, including non-compliance with foreclosure and eviction notices, quite squats, land reclamations for community gardens and local food security, and protest initiatives against new measures to destroy public housing, however the bulk of these resistance measures remain individualized and scattered

Resolved to deepen the reach and impact of the Take Back the Land Movement to address the crisis and realize our human rights, participants in the meeting agreed to execute the following measures to consolidate, strengthen, and advance the movement:
• To expand the Land and Housing Action Group
• To formalize a division of labor within the Land and Housing Action Group
• To create a broader movement Coordinating Committee, composed of Local Action Groups, Strategic Partners, Allied Organizations, and individuals committed to the principles of the Take Back the Land Movement to strengthen communication and collaboration
• To create several national working committees to strengthen overall coordination
• To pursue funding to support a national coordinator, movement trainings in various areas (direct action, demand development, human rights, monitoring, etc.), and base building initiatives in several strategic cities and/or regions
• To engage in an October action offensive in collaboration with the International Alliance of Inhabitants
• To conduct a Demand and Strategy Development meeting in December
• And to conduct a national speaking tour to spread the message of the movement and inspire more families, communities and forces of resistance to engage in transformative action

We believe that little by little, and step by step we are playing a part in building the transformative movement this country so desperately needs and which its oppressed, exploited and excluded peoples, so rightly deserve. But, we have a long, long way to go. We invite all progressive forces to join us in building this movement during the next phase of struggle by supporting the October offensive, or organizing a teach-in, speaking event, or fundraiser for the LHAG in your community.

Donations to the LHAG/TBLM can be made to the US Human Rights Network c/o LHAG and mailed to 250 Georgia Ave. Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312. Donations can also be made via paypal at

For more information on the Land and Housing Action Group and the Take Back the Land Movement email or visit or

Land and Housing Action Group
Friday, September 17, 2010

Black Agenda Morning Shot 9.16.10 - Free the Scott Sisters

Black Agenda Morning Shot 9.13.10 - Child Soldiers in Chicago

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Statement on the Conditions in Haiti: 7 months after the Earthquake

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) is an organization of people of Afrikan descent in the United States who believe in fighting for and supporting self-determination and human rights for Afrikans in the United States and around the world. Our organization annually takes an international trip to build solidarity with other people struggling for liberation and social justice. This year, we come in solidarity to Haiti (with the people of Haiti).

Our objective was to meet with Hait ian people and popular organizations and assess the current situation in the camps and throughout the country seven months after the earthquake.

What we have found is appalling. There is a lack of security, deteriorating health conditions, and inadequate access to food, water, medicine and education in the camps. We are particularly concerned about the lack of safety and the large number of reported rapes and violent attacks on Haitian women and children in the camps.

Numerous Haitian people living in the camps have reported that aid groups and Non-Governmental Organization’s (NGO) have provided inadequate aid after millions were collected by the U.S. government (through the Clinton/ Bush initiative), the Red Cross, the United Nations and a multitude of NGOs.

We demand that the US and Hait ian governments, and so-called aid organizations, be held account able and immediately collaborate with the popular organizations of Haiti for the distribution of much needed relief to Internally Displaced Haitians.

All the people we encountered in the camps and the popular movement continuously raised concerns not only about the deplorable health conditions and lack of long term planning but also the need for free and fair elections in Haiti that include lifting the ban of Fanmi Lavalas from the upcoming elections, creating a legitimate electoral council and allowing the return of Jean Bertrand Aristide who the people still view as their legitimate leader.

MXGM supports the demands of the Haitian peo ple and popular movement. The current situation is untenable and is a violation of the principles of democracy and human rights.

MXGM opposes the ban ish ment of Dr. Jean Bertrand Aris tide from his home land and supports the consistent popular demand of the Haitian people for his speedy return. We oppose the occupation of Haiti by the United Nations and call for the freedom of Haitian political prisoners. And we support the demand for France and the U.S. to pay restitution and repa­rations to Haiti for slavery and centuries of coercion, and economic exploitation.

We will organize our communities in United States to help end the conditions we witnessed and to build the new Haiti envisioned by the people’s popular movement.


Black Agenda Morning Shot 8.30.10 - Resistance in New Orleans, 5 years after Hurricane Katrina

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NAWC/MXGM Statement in Support of the Trust Black Women Coalition Action - July 24, 2010

The New Afrikan Women Caucus (NAWC) of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) of Atlanta stands in solidarity with Spark Reproductive Justice NOW!, SisterSong Inc., and SisterLove and the Trust Black Women Coalition’s campaign to stop the disruptive tactics of a injudicious and corruptive anti-choice agenda. The attacks of the so-called “freedom rides” organized by right-wing pundits Glenn Beck and Adventa King, follow a time tested pattern of divide and conquer and use and exploit our communities to further an exclusive political agenda. We reject the hijacking of the historical narrative of our people’s struggle from white supremacy and apartheid and distort our victories against these oppressive systems.

One of the central principles of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement is the right of self-determination. We understand the recent and historical attacks of the right-wing, anti-choice movement against women, and Black women in particular, to be nothing less than an attempt to stifle the progress and gains of the women’s and reproductive justice movements.

The attempt to appropriate the name and images of the “Freedom Rides” of the 1960’s with the conservative political agenda of the anti-choice movement is offensive and dangerous. This right-wing “joy riding” appropriation is a distracting ploy to draw attention away from their true agenda. Their goal is to reverse the critical gains of the civil rights movement and restore the power of a patriarchial state over women’s bodies.

The messaging of the anti-choice movement is so distorted and manipulative that it often deceives elements in our communities, particularly the more spiritually observant sectors. This old agenda with new tactics appears to be more “compassionate,” more “concerning,” and promises outcomes that would support and strengthen Black communities. Not only is this not true, it is not their intent. Their objective is to divide the Black community and weaken our political power – concentrated power that when united, can defeat the agenda of the right.

Black and all oppressed people must unite and stand in firm opposition to this agenda and its manipulative ploys. We must end the legacies of colonialism and white supremacy rooted in the US empire which was built on the very ownership and manipulation of our bodies. We must demand self-determination and the unequivocal control over our own bodies. We will not be subjected to the oppressive whims of a white supremacist, patriarchial state!

The struggle for reproductive justice must be central to all the peoples’ struggles – Black, Indigenous, Puerto Rican, Hawaiian, Latino, Asian, etc. – struggling for justice in the US. Self-determination and liberation comes with having power over ourselves, our families, our communities, and our bodies. Weak ploys of an anti-choice agenda by anti-reproductive justice conservatives will not be allowed to gain further ground in our communities.

Now is the time to educate, agitate and organize to defend our bodies, realize our human rights and defeat this right-wing assault on our people and community.

We say

Open Letter to Justice to Oscar Grant Movement, Part 2: Suggestions on Structure, People's Tribunal, and utilizing the UPR Process

This letter was drafted in response to inquiries on a national phone call on the struggle for Justice for Oscar Grant organized by Davey D, Biko Baker, and the League of Young Voters on Wednesday, July 21st.

Greetings All,

Per our discussion regarding next steps on the July 21st call I wanted to offer several suggestions to the group to consider.

On Structure: The US Human Rights Network (USHRN) has been in the process of forming a National Alliance for Racial Justice and Human Rights (NARJHR) since the summer of 2009. This Alliance was initiated by Network members the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Black Workers for Justice, Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights, Center for Constitutional Rights, Latin American and Caribbean Community Center, and others, and is seeking to focus on the following racial justice issues and struggles:
Indigenous sovereignty
Colonial occupation (Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, etc.)
Racial Profiling
Police Brutality
Mass Incarceration (including Drug Policy and Voting Rights)
Workers Rights
Economic Justice
Gender and Reproductive Justice
Environmental Racism

Given that we began to address a comprehensive framework that touched on most, if not all of these issues, the Network and the NARJHR Organizing Committee - of which I am a member - offer its framework and incipient structure to this collective as something to consider to help sustain and build this initiative. For more information on the National Alliance please visit (please note that this site is currently under construction and is in the process of being transferred to the new USHRN hosting site).

On National Campaign(s): To answer the questions, a) how can we can link our various local efforts and initiatives and b) what are we demanding of the government that will address our issues and begin to transform the relations of power underneath them, I want to point to the following example as something to both model and join. The example comes from a campaign initiative being lead by the Rights Working Group (RWG), a USHRN affiliate, to confront Racial Profiling. The campaigns primary objective is to pass the national “End of Racial Profiling Act” being reintroduced in Congress. For more information see the following link Again, I think this provides us with an excellent concrete example of what can do by combining our efforts.

On the Tribunal Proposal: Building on the groundwork laid on the case of Oscar Grant in Oakland, CA from the Tribunals conducted by the African People's Socialist Party (APSP) and By Any Means Necessary Coalition (BAMN), what me and Davey D want to put forward is a Tribunal proposal that will a) provide clear evidence and contextualization on Oscar Grants murder to pressure the DOJ, b) create space to address the national implications of the murder and the policies that enabled it to help build a national alliance and/or coalition, and 3) internationalize the struggle by including participants such as the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism and the Universal Periodic Review Process (see below) to further pressure the DOJ and the US government in general to make various reforms. Further, building on the models of the International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2007 and Winter Solider in 2008, we want to put forth the following outline:
That we make the Tribunal as simple as possible, but scale it up utilizing interactive technology, to make it affordable and accessible to a broad audience.
That we invite international participants, like the Special Rapportuer on Racism, to be involved and include them in the proceedings via technology like Skype, etc.
That we base the Tribunal proceedings on human rights and/or international law practices.
That we conduct the Tribunal over a three day period, conceptually broken down in the following manner:
· Day One: Testimony, focusing on Oscar Grant and other cases of Police Brutality and Murder
· Day Two: Examining and exposing the Structural Issues, i.e. Racial Profiling, Mass Incarceration, ICE Raids, Structural Un/Under Employment, etc.
· Day Three: Demands, Recommendations, and Solutions, to press upon the US government and the UN

To give ourselves enough time, and hopefully tap into existing institutions of resistance, we suggest that we aim to conduct the Tribunal on or around October 22nd. This would give us two full months (August and September) to organize and coordinate the effort and to publicize it nationally to a considerable degree. However, this developing alliance, but most particularly the forces on the ground in California, would need to come to terms on conducting such an event and then figure out a) who the potential organizing anchors would be and b) how to generate the resources necessary to engage in such an undertaking.

For more information on the Special Rapporteur on Racism and the mandate of the office please visit For information on previous engagements of the Special Rapporteur on Racism with US social movements visit

On the UPR Day/Week of Action: The UPR stands for the Universal Periodic Review. It is a relatively new process of the United Nations country reporting system to evaluate the conduct of the world nations towards meeting their obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights. The United States is being subjected to its first UPR review on Friday, November 5th in Geneva, Switzerland. The human rights record of the US will be presented and defended by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder. As I'm sure everyone has noted, this is the same date that Johannes Mehserle is currently set to be sentenced. And with Eric Holder, the head of the DOJ, being a primary presenter, this process provides us with an excellent opportunity to both shame the US government on its inadequate polices and conduct and to pressure the DOJ, and the government on a whole, to make concrete progressive reforms based on our demands.

To fully exploit this opportunity what is being suggested is a national day and/or week of action between November 1st - 4th to influence the Mehserle sentencing proceedings directly and the US's UPR hearing process. Suggested actions would entail:
1. Teach-In's,
2. Congressional Lobbying
3. Mass Demonstrations on relevant targets
4. Direct Actions also on relevant targets (Justice Department, Federal Courts, etc.).

Critical to the success of this initiative would be the generation of national and international media. Our media and cultural workers would need to form a solid plan to support, document, and report the activities of this week to ensure there was broad coverage to pressure the government.

For more information on the UPR please visit the following websites and

In Unity and Struggle,
Kali Akuno

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

An Open Letter to the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement: Suggestions on Next Steps, Strategy and Unity Building

By Kali Akuno
National Organizer - Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Director of Education, Training, and Field Operations – US Human Rights Network

The righteous anger and indignation on graphic display in Oakland, California Thursday, July 8th at the mockery of justice rewarded to Johannes Mehserle for murdering Oscar Grant and the open collaboration of several non-profit organizations with the government to contain and delegitimatize the people’s resistance is a clarion call. It’s a call not just for justice for Oscar Grant and the countless victims of police terror, but for radical, systemic change. The anger, and its focus, indicates a heightened awareness on behalf of a new generation of working class Black, Latino and Asian youth of the intractable contradictions between the imperialist state and oppressed peoples and the willingness to challenge them.

A new phase of development and a new set of challenges now confront the movement to win justice for Oscar Grant. The inexperience of the youth forces engaged and the current weaknesses and fragmentation of the left make this a very, very delicate time. If certain conversations aren’t had, if certain lessons of the past and present aren’t incorporated, and if certain contradictions aren’t addressed, then all of the radiant energy on display July 8th could easily fade, or just as easily turn its wrath in upon itself and miss its true target.

This small contribution is an attempt to help ignite conversation, share reflections from critical movements of the past, and offer suggestions in the hope of helping to facilitate strategic and programmatic development within the movement.

On Next Steps and Organizing Orientation
1. Joint Reflection: to move the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement forward progressive forces focused on building the democratic mass movement, should join forces and come together to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement over the past year and half. One of the two main objectives of such a collaboration, in the short term, would be to produce a joint assessment and a unified set of demands, both tactical and strategic, to help anchor the movement in its next phase of struggle.
2. Joint Assessment: This assessment should be issued as a statement and/or document that provides a clear analysis of the movements weaknesses and errors and some strong points of orientation to try and anchor, sustain, and guide it going forward. Some key points of assessment should include (but not be limited to) the following:
a) A firm condemnation of collaboration and opportunism; but avoiding personalized vilification of the social forces that collaborated (being mindful of the lessons of COINTELPRO)
b) A statement of distinction on the role of political and community organizations as opposed to non-profits; and clarity on the reformist orientation and political limitations of non-profit organizations
c) The function of organization in the movement to combat infiltration (as appears to have occurred within the Black Bloc and other formations)
d) The need for strategy to help facilitate forward development and political advancement of the movement(s)
3. Joint Strategy and Work Plan: The second primary objective of such a collaboration would be to draft a one-year strategy and work plan to realize the unified demands that are put forward to the movement to democratically accept (understanding the independence of initiative of each formation), modify, or categorically reject.

This convergence of forces, although necessarily centered in California, particularly the Bay Area and Los Angeles, should seek to build and consolidate a national and international organizing initiative.

On Demand Expansion and Development
1. The opening of a Federal Investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) can and should be used as a national organizing opportunity. However, more self-determining justice initiatives should be organized simultaneously to challenge US hegemony (internally and externally) by internationalizing the struggle. More concretely, an independent “people’s or citizens” commission should be established to conduct an autonomous examination of the evidence, issue indictments, and pressure the DOJ and its process. This commission would ideally consist of family members, community activists, lawyers, jurists, etc. and call on various international bodies within the United Nations (UN) and International System (such as the Inter-American Court) to intervene in the case and challenge the racist policies and practices that enabled it.
2. The demand for resources and economic development must be supported unequivocally, but modified in a manner that puts limits on the controls of City Hall and its near exclusive access by “grasstop” forces. A means to accomplishing this (not without its faults or limits by any stretch) could be the institutionalization of participatory budgeting systems to determine the use of the cities resources to ensure they are used to address and service human needs such as adequate housing, health care, education, etc.

Synthesis Demands
This synthesis is an attempt to combine and expand on the demands originally articulated by the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) Coalition, and the New Years Movement (NYM).
1. We demand that Officers Pirone and Domenici be indicted for murder.
2. We demand civil restitution and reparations for the family Oscar Grant, and the victims of Police violence by the OPD and BART.
3. We demand that BART Police be disarmed and disbanded.
4. We demand that the Police Bill of Rights, which shields the records of police misconduct, abuse and murder, be immediately abolished, and that all police records be made public.
5. We demand that an independent “peoples commission”, drawn and determined by the citizens of Oakland, with international jurists determined by this commission, be granted oversight into the Federal Department of Justice investigation of the murder of Oscar Grant, and systemic violations of civil and human rights by the Oakland and Transit Police.
6. We demand the termination of all Gang Injunction laws and policies in Oakland and throughout California on the grounds of their unconstitutionality and their violation of civil and international law.
7. We demand that Oakland be declared a sanctuary city, and that all ICE raids and racial profiling policies and practices targeting Latino/a, Black, Asian and other oppressed peoples be terminated immediately.
8. We demand that the City of Oakland, the State of California, and the Federal Government provide massive funding for education and jobs in Oakland that are allocated and distributed via a transparent and democratic public participatory budgeting process.

One-Year Plan Targets/Tactics
1. Conduct a mass and coordinated non-compliance action in Oakland and Los Angeles the day after Mehserle’s sentencing, that calls for Student walk outs and strike or “sick out” actions by Public Sector, Transit, Dock, and other workers that disrupts the regular flow of “business” to raise our demands and demonstrate the power of mass action.
2. Organize broad, neighborhood Police/Copwatch formations, and work to create “liberated zones” in Black, Latino, Asian, and white working class and poor communities, where the police are prohibited or curtailed in their activities.
3. Organize a massive local, regional, statewide, and national “Justice for Oscar Grant” petition drive to pressure the DOJ and build support for the movement’s demands (buttressed by broad internet and social networking interface to support and broaden reach).
4. Develop a broad people’s media and cultural workers initiative to provide educational, motivational, and agitation tools and resources for the movement and to provide sufficient analysis and coverage to frame the movement from its own perspective and counter the reactionary framing and attacks of the bourgeois media.
5. Hold a People’s Tribunal, with international observers and jurists, to pressure the DOJ and its deliberations.
6. Utilize Inter-American and United Nations special action procedures and special rapporteurs to conduct international investigations, recommendations, and sanctions on the US government for its failure to protect the human rights of Oscar Grant, the victims of police violence, and the targets of the various racial profiling laws and policies sanctioned by the government.
7. Organize local, state and national referendum and legislative initiatives to realize and support the movement’s demands. A possible start could entail running progressive candidates in Oakland who stand on a platform based on the movement’s demands in the upcoming elections to help define public debate and pressure the government to comply.

Without a doubt, accomplishing all of this is a tall order, particularly for a young and fragmented movement. But, as the history of the peoples’ struggles against white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism here and all over the world demonstrate, no political challenges are insurmountable. If we dare to win, then we must dare to struggle against the internal shortcomings and subjectivities of the movement that hinder us from building the operational unity needed to execute initiatives of scale such as those proposed in this paper. The struggle for unity does not mean that we should stop struggling against collaborationist and opportunist ideas and practices. It simply implores us to do all we can to seize the opportunities at hand. With organization, strategy, discipline, and determination we can and will win!

In Unity and Struggle.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kali can be contacted via

Monday, May 3, 2010

Land and Housing Action Group Working Paper #3: The Meaning of the Slogan, the Meaning of the Movement

The Take Back the Land slogan is a cry for social justice drawn from the historic anti-colonial and popular struggles of the Third World, or Global South, and the Peoples’ Movements within the US, particularly Indigenous, Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican, and Hawaiian struggles for land, treaty rights, self-determination and sovereignty.

The Land and Housing Action Group (LHAG) issued the campaign call initiating the present-day Take Back the Land Movement to honor and build on the critical historic and structural demands of these peoples’ movements. We stand on an anti-settler position, which acknowledges that first and foremost all the lands currently held and/or claimed by the US government rightfully belong their indigenous inhabitants, not to European settlers and their descendents who acquired them through genocidal conquest and thievery. Further we stand opposed to the system of land commodification and private possession initiated by European colonization and institutionalized and enshrined within the US constitution and legal custom.

The ultimate, long-term objective of the Take Back the Land Movement is to end this system of land commodification. We call this the decommodification imperative. This imperative is rooted in the belief that in order for the human right to adequate housing to be realized there must be a radical transformation in how land is related to and used. If the present system and orientation is maintained it undoubtedly will lead to further wealth polarization, displacement, social unrest, food insecurity, water conflicts, deforestation, and species loss. To avoid these calamities a new orientation and system must be created that rebuilds the “commons”, is based in communal ownership and economic democracy, and rooted in a relational inter-species approach to land that respects the inherent rights of “all our relations” to enjoy the earth’s bounty.

We recognize that we have many a river to cross in what will undoubtedly be a protracted struggle before realizing substantive change on this issue. Notions of individual home ownership are central to the narrative of the “American Dream”. Challenging the ideological and amoral underpinning of this narrative won’t be easy, even in historically oppressed communities. But, it must be done as a critical step in the struggle to help save ourselves from ourselves and avert the potential catastrophe of ecocide from the over consumption of the earth’s resources. The initiative to build a mass direct action movement through the action initiatives of May 2010 and beyond is just a first critical step on this journey.

The Land and Housing Action Group invite’s everyone to join us in advancing this vision and realizing its potential. We aim to not just correct historical wrongs, but to build a more just and equitable society for all.

Build the Take Back the Land Movement to realize our human right to adequate housing.

For more information on how you can join or support the Take Back the Land campaign, email or call 404.588.9761.

Land and Housing Action Group Working Paper #2: Identifying, Occupying, and Transforming “Un-identified” Public Housing

Over 3 million homes were foreclosed in 2009. More than 2.4 million are expected in 2010. With the 3 million recorded in 2008, an outrageous 8.4 million plus homes have been foreclosed in the span of 3 years.

Obama’s mortgage modification program has fundamentally failed to save millions of families from losing their homes. The only thing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has accomplished is saving the banks and restoring their profits. Meanwhile millions have joined the ranks of the “hidden homeless” while millions of homes sit vacant on the warehousing rolls of the banks and the government.

In November 2009, the Land and Housing Action Group (LHAG) of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) stated that all the houses cleared for the Banks via TARP constituted public housing as they were purchased with public funds. Building on this position, we demand that all homes and housing units currently being warehoused by the banks and the government be publicly identified and opened to occupation by the millions of families displaced from their homes and the tens of thousands languishing on public and/or affordable housing waiting lists.

The United States government is obligated under international law to respect, protect, and fulfill the human right to adequate housing for all persons residing within the confines of its jurisdiction. Publicly identifying vacant housing stock suitable for occupation is an immediate means for the US government to begin fulfilling its obligations. But, this is just a starting place. Further steps must be taken to protect families and communities from biased policies and the arbitrary dictates of the financial markets.

The Land and Housing Action Group maintains that one of the critical next steps that must to be taken is transforming the vast stock of vacant homes into cooperative housing and land trusts to be directly governed and administered on a local level by impacted families and communities. We believe direct management is essential to avoid the destruction of public housing goods or its deformation into private possessions utilized strictly to generate individual profit.

The Land and Housing Action Group calls on all those of good conscience to join us in raising the demand that all vacant housing purchased with pubic funds be identified as un-utilized public housing stock and employed immediately to provide housing to those in need. The realization of the human right to housing in the United States demands no less. Build the Take Back the Land Movement to realize our human right to adequate housing.

For more information on how you can join or support the Take Back the Land campaign, email or call 404.588.9761.

Groups Take Back the Land During May 2010 Month of Action

May 3, 2010- Today, the Take Back the Land Movement (TBLM, announced a May 2010 Month of Action in direct response to the ongoing economic and housing crisis. The month of action commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first Civil rights era sit-ins in Greensboro, NC. Thousands from across the country will participate in “live-ins” to demand the fundamental human right to housing. Groups in over a dozen cities across the country will move families into vacant government-owned and foreclosed homes, without permission, or physically defend families from eviction and foreclosure.

The objective of the coordinated civil disobedience campaigns is to build a national movement to elevate housing to the level of a human right and gain community control over land.

“We are defending families facing eviction and moving homeless people into people-less homes,” said Max Rameau of Take Back the Land. “While banks enjoy bailouts, executive bonuses and record profits, human beings and entire communities are suffering. The government does not appear interested in helping poor people, so we have no other choice.”

The TBLM is a network of community organizations or initiatives committed to community control over land and housing as a human right. The Movement receives national staffing and administrative support from the US Human Rights Network ( and is organized in conjunction with the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) (, an organization with a long history of housing takeovers and defenses.

Right 2 Survive, a Portland, Oregon based which empowers un-sheltered persons, seized control of a vacant lot in front of a long abandoned high school at 531 SE 14th Ave. in South Portland on May 1. Media coverage of the action is available at and

In Toledo, OH, Keith Sadler of Stony Ridge is due to be evicted from his home today (May 3). But Mr. Sadler intends to resist the foreclosure and stay in his home. “I am resisting this eviction through non-violent civil disobedience,” stated Sadler. “It's time to make a stand against this corrupt system.” The Toledo Foreclosure Defense League, a Northwest Ohio coalition of anti-foreclosure activists, will stand by Mr. Sadler to defend his home. Sadler and the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League will peacefully occupy the foreclosed home by sealing themselves inside until the foreclosure is called off and a moratorium on all residential foreclosures is enacted. A live video feed from inside the house will be provided online.

Actions are also expected on May 3rd in Chicago, IL, where the Chicago anti-eviction campaign is protesting the HUD offices, 77 W Jackson, at 11:00am, and in Philadelphia, PA by the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. Throughout the month, actions are expected in every region of the country, including in the:

Northeast: Boston, MA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; and Washington, DC

South: Louisville, KY; New Orleans, LA; St. Petersburg, FL; and Miami, FL

Midwest: Chicago, IL; Toledo, OH; Madison, WI; Detroit, MI; and Minneapolis, MN

West: Portland, OR

Details about upcoming actions are available at

Housing is a fundamental human right protected by Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR), and Article 5 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), amongst others. In the context of the severe housing crisis and the multi-billion dollar bailout of the financial industry, participating organizations demand the US government enforce their international responsibilities and obligations to protect and fulfill this basic human right.

Take Back the Land - Miami started in October 2006 by seizing control over a vacant municipal lot in Miami, FL and building the Umoja Village Shantytown. Subsequent campaigns resulted in “liberating” and moving families into foreclosed homes, without permission from the banks.

The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign was founded in 1998 and is committed to unite the poor across color lines as the leadership base for a broad movement to abolish poverty by advancing economic human rights as named in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, such as the rights to food, housing, health, education, communication and a living wage job.

Civil Disobedience training support is provided by the Ruckus Society ( and legal support is provided by the Center for Constitutional Rights (


Take Back the Land (

Max Rameau 786-231-3446

Ajamu Baraka 404-588-9761

Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (

Cheri Honkala 267-439-8419

Rosemary Nevils Williams 612-296-3481

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Endorse the Take Back the Land Movement

Greetings All,

The historic month of May 2010 is rapidly dawning upon us. In addition to honoring International Workers’ Day and continuing to press for the right to dignity at work and legalization for all, this May Day will also serve as the commencement of the Take Back the Land Campaign. Beginning in May, communities and activists throughout the country will be engaging in autonomous direct actions throughout the country to realize the human right to housing and build the Take Back the Land Movement.

We want to encourage everyone of good conscience to join and help build this critical movement. Millions of families and communities are being displaced by the privatization of public housing, the deepening of the foreclosure crisis, and the escalation of homelessness and we cannot remain silent in the face of these injustices.

We are appealing for you and your organization to endorse the Take Back the Land Movement and support us in pressing for the following principles and demands.
1. That Housing is a fundamental human right that the US government has an obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill.
2. That in order to realize this right, the conditions of our time necessitate that we must build a mass movement to press our demands, and that non-violent direct action is a principle means of pressing them.

Further, we encourage all those who endorse to support the building of this movement in one or more of the following ways:
1. Conduct a demonstration in your local area against one of the major banks (Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, etc.) or the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) linked to the principles and demands of the Take Back the Land Movement.
2. Conduct a community forum or teach-in about the Take Back the Land Movement to educate the people in your community, work place, place of worship, or school about this initiative and its importance.
3. Write an article or op-ed about the Take Back the Land Movement to submit to your local newspaper, or your organizations newsletter, journal or magazine to help educate the public and help build this critical movement.
4. Conduct a fundraiser in your area to help the Land and Housing Action Group provide training and technical support to Local Action Groups in the development of their actions and movement building activities. Donations can be made via Paypal at or via check to US Human Rights Network, c/o the Land and Housing Action Group. Mail to US Human Rights Network 250 Georgia Ave. Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312.

To endorse and join the Take Back the Land Movement please email And specify if you are endorsing as an individual or as an organization. For further information visit or

In Unity and Struggle,
The Land and Housing Action Group

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

US Human Rights Network Releases Major Report on Domestic Human Rights Issues

For Immediate Release
April 19, 2010
Contact: Ajamu Baraka, 404.588.9761

A sweeping report on human rights in the United States has found significant shortcomings in U.S. compliance with international human rights standards as well as its obligations under multiple human rights treaties and agreements. The report, issued today by the U.S. Human Rights Network, culminates more than a year of research by more than 200 domestic human rights and social justice organizations and hundreds of advocates across the country.

The report covers such broad topics as discrimination, civil rights, criminal justice, economic and social rights, immigration and foreign policy. Among the many issues addressed in the report are education, housing, labor, political repression, disability rights, racial profiling, reproductive rights, health care and indigenous rights. "This report includes input from every corner of civil society," says US Human Rights Network Executive Director Ajamu Baraka. "We left no stone unturned."

While the report acknowledges select advances in human rights policy and practice under the Obama administration, the systemic failings to protect and uphold human rights detailed in the report argue for more aggressive action at the federal, state and local levels. "Baby steps are not enough when the problems are marathon in scope," Baraka says.

A compilation of 24 separate submissions, the report lays out the existing human rights frameworks in the U.S. as well as the lack of a coordinating authority or other adequate mechanisms to ensure compliance; details the range of human rights violations in the U.S. with numerous specific examples; and makes recommendations on how the U.S. can better meet international human rights standards and live up to its treaty obligations.

The report was produced in conjunction with the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, which examines the human rights track record of all member states every four years. The UN will hold hearings on the U.S. record in November. The report is timely in other ways, particularly in the wake of the global economic crisis and the so-called War on Terror, both of which have created a climate of fear in the U.S. and a consequent willingness to abrogate or suspend human rights protections. The elimination of job and wage security for low-wage workers, the recent passage in Arizona of a law that allows racial profiling of immigrants, foreclosure rates that disproportionately affect minority homeowners and renters, and documented instances of violence and abuse by law enforcement are but a few examples of how these events are playing out on the national stage.

For the complete report and more information on the US Human Rights Network and UPR process, please visit

The US Human Rights Network was formed to promote US accountability to universal human rights standards by building linkages between organizations and individuals. The Network strives to build a human rights culture in the United States that puts those directly affected by human rights violations, with a special emphasis on grassroots organizations and social movements, in a central leadership role. The Network also works towards connecting the US human rights movement with the broader US social justice movement and human rights movements around the world. To learn more, please visit:

Our postal address is
250 Georgia Ave
Suite 330
Atlanta, Georgia 30312
United States

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Confronting the Occupation: Haiti, Neo-liberalism, and the US Occupation

Written by Kali Akuno
National Organizer, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Sunday, April 11, 2010

The three-month marker for the earthquake that devastated Haiti is now upon us. The significance of this marker is not one determined by the Haitian people, but rather by the enemies of the Haitian people and peoples’ movements throughout the world.

According to Milton Friedman and the intellectual guru’s of neo-liberalism there are critical timelines and stages that must be strictly adhered by to successfully capitalize on a catastrophe and transform a society. The three month marker is one of these critical timelines, and in the words of Friedman himself “ a new administration has some six to nine months in which to achieve major changes; if it does not seize the opportunity to act decisively during that period, it will not have another such opportunity.” Based on experiences in Iraq, Sri Lanka, and New Orleans over the past ten years several things must be in place at the three-month marker in order for the catastrophe to be fully exploited. These include: sufficient military force to contain the population, the dispersal and fragmentation of the affected population to limit its ability to mobilize resistance, and the legislation and implementation of a new policy regime that seeks to privatize nearly everything and eliminate all financial controls.

One of the central enemies of the Haitian people is the guru’s of the ideology of neo-liberalism. These guru’s are the neo-liberal theoreticians and policy hacks who control Wall Street, the US Federal Reserve, the Bretton Woods institutions – the IMF, World Bank, and WTO, and most of the central banks of the world since the 1990’s. These gurus, most particularly the theoreticians, created a script in the 1970’s to exploit catastrophes, natural and human created, not only for material gain but radically regressive social transformation. After waging an incessant ideological war against socialism and communism the theoreticians won critical support amongst the commanders of government and the captains of capital by the early 1980’s and were able to start fully unleashing their fury on the world after the test run of General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile during the 1970’s. This neo-liberal script is a form of what Karl Marx termed “primitive accumulation”, and what David Harvey calls “accumulation by dispossession”, and is becoming popularly known via the works of Naomi Klein as “disaster capitalism” and the “shock doctrine”.

A key ideological and strategic tool of this neo-liberal script is the concept of “humanitarian interventionism.” Despite how well intentioned this concept sounds, it is a tool developed through the auspices of NATO, under the guiding hand of the US government, to be executed through the UN to allow the imperialist powers to legally and morally interfere in the domestic affairs of weaker nations. Stated plainly, it is colonialism dressed in fine linen. As a practice it gained legitimacy after the imperialist induced atrocities in Rwanda, Burundi, and the former Yugoslav republic in the 1990’s to allegedly put an end to crimes against humanity such as ethnic cleansing and genocide. In the wake of these atrocities the UN under the direction of the US and its European allies has executed the doctrine of humanitarian intervention in all of the aforementioned countries and the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, and Haiti.

The latest imposition of humanitarian interventionism in Haiti was in 2004, after the US overthrow of President Aristide and the Lavalas government, allegedly to restore order and maintain peace. But, this cut was just a deeper penetration of the affliction of neo-liberalism imposed upon Haiti by US imperialism with the willing aid of Haiti’s own decadent ruling class beginning in the 1980’s under the regime of “Baby Doc” Jean-Claude Duvalier.

The current US occupation (the third since 1915) of Haiti removes the mask of the UN occupation in place since 2004, and is promoted and (sadly) widely unquestioned, in the US and throughout the world, as a “humanitarian operation” allegedly to stabilize the situation in Haiti in order to provide quake relief - which is nothing more than a perpetuation of the long standing racist view of the US government that the Haitian people are incapable of adequately presiding over their own affairs. The fact is, with the advancements and refinements in the application of the “shock doctrine” stemming from the occupation of Iraq, the political transformation of Sri Lanka following the Tsunami of 2004, and the social and demographic transformation of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the US government and transnational capital are seeking to apply a “coup de grace” on the people’s movement in Haiti in order to clear the way to remake it as a neo-liberal paradise.

Stakes is High

The stakes at play in the US occupation couldn’t be much higher for the people’s movement and the working and peasant masses of Haiti. Under US military rule the overwhelming bulk of the international relief aid (materials and finances) is centrally controlled by a handful of relief agencies hand picked by the US and the UN, who along with elements of the Haitian elite, control who gets anything and when, and thus turned relief aid into a weapon of social and political control. The major ports of entry into the country and its main transportation arteries are under tight US control restricting people’s ability to organize and mobilize under the ongoing dire circumstances. Potential routes of refuge to the US via the sea and the Dominican Republic via land have been effectively closed and legally barred. And the political repression unleashed after the liquidation of the Lavalas government in 2004 by the Haitian ruling class, former military and Tonton Macoute forces, and MINUSTA (the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti) is intensifying, particularly with the ongoing banning of the Fanmi Lavalas Party from running in upcoming elections. And the hunting down by the US military and mercenary forces of political prisoners associated with the Lavalas movement and government, who were liberated by the collapse of several prison facilities during the January 12th earthquake. To top it all off, the Hurricane season is approaching rapidly, and no one, not the US military, the UN and NGO relief agencies, or the Haitian government is prepared to face it and the potential calamities it could bring, particularly as it relates to further displacement, the deepening of food insecurity, and the spread of infectious diseases.

And these are just the short-term issues posed by the US occupation and the militarization of the relief and reconstruction effort. The long-term issue is the suppression of the people’s movement for self-determination and the imposition of permanent structures of dependency and subservience that the US government and the transnational ruling class are seeking to impose via a prolonged occupation. US imperialism is seeking to do no less to Haiti than it did with the occupation of 1915 – 1934, and that is to remove the threat of social revolution in Haiti and rebuild the Haitian military to serve as a repressive instrument against it in the service of transnational capital.

The US occupation of Haiti is not just a singular containment initiative. It is also an initiative to further the rollback of progressive social transformation that has swept large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean since the late 1990’s. The first major rollback initiative under Obama’s command was the Honduran coup that successfully ousted President Manuel Zelaya. The second, albeit with far less US intervention, was the election of a right wing government in Chile, under the leadership of billionaire President Sebastian Pinera. The occupation of Haiti is the third and by far the most deeply penetrating of these rollback initiatives. With it US imperialism is seeking to contain initiatives like ALBA, which in English translates into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America, initiated and principally led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as an alternative of the FTAA. ALBA, through the solidarity initiatives of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments, was making significant headway in Haiti prior to the earthquake with the creation rural hospitals and schools and the provisioning of subsidized oil and low-interest development loans. Under the US occupation these initiatives are being stunted and contained in their growth. The greatest rollback threat however, is the occupation itself. It is a stark reminder to the aspiring progressive governments and social movements in Latin American and the Caribbean that as far as US imperialism is concerned the Monroe Doctrine is still in full effect over its historically claimed “backyard”, and that there are limits to the progressive reforms it is willing to tolerate.

Solidarity and Joint Struggle: What is to be done?

The US occupation is not just a problem for Haitians, and social movements in Latin America and the Caribbean, it is and must be understood as a problem for the progressive social movement within the US itself. Sadly, the Black Liberation Movement (BLM) has been divided and largely demobilized in relation to Haiti since the 2004 coup, in large part due to differences over how to view, understand, and relate to Fanmi Lavalas and President Aristide. Many have succumbed to accepting the grave distortions and outright lies perpetuated by the US government and right wing and ultra-left Haitian forces against President Aristide, Fanmi Lavalas and the Lavalas Movement. This position ignores the popular will of the Haitian masses and distorts the significant contributions of the Lavalas movement and government towards the realization of a participatory democracy and a people-centered path of economic and social development as an alternative to neo-liberalism. Similar dynamics have also occurred within Caribbean and Latino social movements within the US. And for the most part Haiti and the UN, and now, US occupations hardly register at all within the largely white dominated anti-war movement (gaining even less attention than the ongoing occupation of Palestine). Undoubtedly, racism, particularly the long-standing specter of the Black hoards of Haiti, is at play in this sad scenario.

This situation must change, and the varied forces of the Black Liberation Movement must lead the way. The Haitian masses and popular movement without question are and will continue to fight valiantly to end the US occupation, but they cannot be left to fight on their own. It is incumbent upon the forces of the Black Liberation Movement to organize a multi-national and/or racial anti-imperialist initiative and coalition within the US that fights for the immediate end of the US occupation and the neo-liberal impositions it seeks to impose. The initiative must also take a committed stand in support of the demands of the Haitian popular movement that call for the return of Aristide, freedom for political prisoners, reparations and restitution (particularly from France for the brutal Indemnity imposed in 1824), and the cancellation of foreign debt and the negation of their structural adjustment conditionalities. In short, we must seize the opportunity to create our own script to counter neo-liberalism and humanitarian interventionism in support of the people’s struggle for self-determination and sovereignty in Haiti.

This initiative must be conceived as one of joint struggle. One that is clear on the mutual and reinforcing self-interests of the social movement in Haiti, with its peasant and working class base, and the social movements in the US, and their multi-national, working class base, in the context of the ever increasing interrelated and interdependent capitalist world-system we live in. Our actions should not be contingent on charity or (worse) pity. But a firm grasps that as the social movement in Haiti goes, so goes the potential for the social movement in the US, for the allowance of one tyranny is the spawn of a hundred more. As we gather our forces to support the resistance of the Haitian people, and join with it in common struggle against imperialism, we will appear as a new defiant spirit and a force to be reckoned with.

Kali Akuno is based in Atlanta, GA and works as the Director of Education, Training and Field Operations at the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) and is in the process of writing a book about his experiences organizing in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina tentatively called “Witness to a Cleansing”.

Monday, April 5, 2010

May 2010 Month of Action to Take Back the Land

The housing bust and faulty government policies have immersed the United States in a full blown economic and housing crisis. The cruel irony of this crisis, and what makes it so profoundly immoral, is that the commodity at its root- housing- is not at all in scarcity. To the contrary, sufficient vacant housing stocks exist to accommodate virtually everyone in need, including families forced into overcrowded and substandard conditions as well as the homeless.

In the face of this severe economic crisis, people are rising up. They rail against the bailouts and bonuses, protest the lack of lending, rebel against unfair credit card rate hikes and, most dramatically, fight back against losing their homes.

The Take Back the Land Movement is calling for a May 2010 National Month of Action to assert the fundamental human right to housing and community control over land. Participating organizations, communities and families are asserting this right in two ways: by “liberating” government, foreclosed and warehoused homes, making them available for families with nowhere else to live, and by protecting families, our neighbors, from foreclosure related evictions from houses, apartments and condos as well as income related evictions from public housing.

Every family, indeed every human being, needs and deserves decent and adequate housing that they can afford, regardless of their income. However, instead of facilitating this need, federal, state and municipal governments are instituting policies and enacting legislation protecting the profits of corporations at the expense and exclusion of families. These policies serve only to compound, rather than end, the crisis. For example, the same financial institutions which caused the crisis, are both bailed out for their “toxic assets,” and allowed to evict families and keep those assets vacant. In addition, federal and local governments are actively vacating, boarding up and demolishing public housing and underfunding rent subsidy programs in order to free up monies for bank bailouts and sports facilities.

This series of policies and laws not only allow human beings to live on the street while hundreds of thousands of houses sit vacant, but the bailouts effectively compel struggling families to finance their own evictions and then subsidize hefty bonuses to the executives evicting them.

In the context of a severe housing crisis, policies and laws which impede the human right to housing are morally indefensible and, as such, must be directly challenged until they are changed. The May Month of Action will challenge those laws which prioritize corporate profits over human needs. This is an historic crisis, one which merits an historic response.

On February 1, 1960, four North Carolina A&T students sat-in at a Greensboro Woolworths lunch counter and stepped into history, sparking a movement and changing this society forever. The “sit-in” campaigns were predicated on the notion that legal equality was a human right and, as such, laws violating those rights were morally wrong, and, therefore, must be directly challenged- and broken- in order to be changed.

Inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first sit-ins, the Take Back the Land Movement asserts that housing is a human right and, as such, the policies which violate that right are morally wrong and, therefore, must be directly challenged. As such, this May, organizations across the US are engaging in “live-in” campaigns designed to house human beings and directly challenge those policies and laws that promote vacant housing during this housing crisis.

Civil disobedience campaigns directly challenge unjust laws by breaking them until they change. The Take Back the Land Movement and the live-in campaigns, however, encompass more than merely disobeying immoral laws: it is fundamentally about empowering communities to take control of their land and implementing the moral imperative of housing human beings. More than simple civil disobedience, the live-in campaign is, in fact, a movement of moral obedience.

Organizations in no less than ten (10) US cities will help their family, friends and neighbors “live-in” vacant government owned or foreclosed homes, buildings or land by either moving them in or preventing their eviction. Organizations in cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, will be joined by others in Chicago, Miami, Sacramento and New Orleans. Smaller cities include Toledo, Ohio, Madison, Wisconsin, St. Petersburg, Florida and Portland, Oregon.

Of course, no social justice movement has ever been won in a single month or by utilizing a single tactic or strategy. As such, May 2010 is not the totality, but rather the dawn of a movement whose aims are to elevate housing to the level of a human right and to win community control over land.

The solution to the housing crisis lies in your community, even on your block, and in your hands. The time has come to Take Back the Land.


Max Rameau

See this article at

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Operation Green Hunt, the People’s Struggle in India, and the International Campaign

March 15, 2010

All over the world, people are asking questions about the nature of India’s society and government, and about the war on the adivasis—the tribal peoples—that has recently been launched by that government with strategic assistance from the US and Israel.
Most commentators admit that the Indian people suffered greatly under British rule. Today, it is claimed, India is on a path of rapid technical progress and development; India has its own Silicon Valley, complete with high-tech R&D and hundreds of call centers for everything from Amazon to Victoria’s Secret. New wealth is being created at a rapid rate, a large middle class is developing that is enjoying shopping malls, multiplex cinemas and imported cars, and much of this wealth is working its way down to the villages and urban slums seen in Slumdog Millionaire.
Largest Democracy in the World?
The most common claim is that India is “the world’s largest democracy.” It is said that India’s elected government has ended the oppressive caste system, which assigned everyone to a specific caste and types of work for life. While the government says it is solving the problem by reserving a certain percentage of jobs and places in schools for dalits (untouchables) and other lower castes, today caste oppression continues to define social reality for Indians, especially in the rural areas.
The vast majority of the 1.2 billion people who live in India have no control over their lives. Living and working conditions have not changed for the better from colonial times to the present. According to a 2008 study by the US Agency for International Development, three-quarters of the people live on less than $2 per day. Illiteracy is widespread in the countryside, where more than half of the women cannot read or write and many children leave school to support their families. Nothwithstanding its “socialist” pretensions, successive governments since independence in 1947 have postponed and put off free and compulsory education for children.
The threat of starvation constantly hangs over the heads of millions. Over the past 10 years, nearly 200,000 farmers have committed suicide by drinking pesticide because they could not keep up with demands to repay loans. In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, which were at the forefront of ‘modernisation’ of agriculture, farmers had been led to believe they would benefit if they adopted a more market oriented approach. Capital intensive farming, requiring taking out loans for fertilizers, pesticides, and re-orienting to more water intensive crops, promised high prices and large returns – but the WTO regime of open markets meant depression in agricultural prices and they could not recover their costs
Dalits: India is a vast, diverse, and extremely oppressive society. Around 30% of the people are dalits, who are confined to jobs such as garbage collectors in the cities and excrement haulers in the villages. India’s reservation system has created a new dalit elite (similar in some ways to affirmative action in the US), but for the vast majority of the dalits--life is still hell on earth.
The dalits are the most oppressed among the farmers and peasants, who make up the majority of India’s population. Farmers eke out a living on plots that average ½ to 5 hectares depending on the state, hardly enough to support a family but enough to feed a layer of usurious bankers and moneylenders. One-third of the workers in the countryside, or about 80 million people, are landless laborers.
Peasants/farmers: Some of the sharpest struggles in recent years--including the successful people’s movements at Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal that stopped construction of a Tata auto plant and a huge foreign-owned petrochemical complex--have developed among farmers and adivasis who are threatened with displacement by mining companies or by corporations operating out of more than 500 newly created Special Economic Zones.
These are more accurately known as Special Exploitation Zones, which ban strikes and labor unions, and are run by development corporations that are not bound by Indian law. Tens of thousands of villagers in Orissa are fighting against the capitalist “development” plans of POSCO, a US/South Korean steel corporation, and Vedanta, a British company, which will have devastating economic and ecological consequences for the indigenous Gondh people.
Adivasis: Nearly 100 million adivasis live in the forested areas of central and eastern India. They were never conquered by the British, or by the Aryans and Muslims before them. The adivasis are not part of the caste system and have collective customs that include equal participation of women in the workforce and political life. India has the second largest number of indigenous people after Mexico, and they are covered by UN conventions on the rights of indigenous people.
The adivasis live in areas containing the richest natural resources in India. Most of India’s iron ore, bauxite and coal come from Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. To paraphrase Arundhati Roy, Indian and multinational capitalists think that the adivasis are sitting on top of their minerals and depriving them of deserved riches. These profit-addicted companies have already signed hundreds of MoUs (Memoranda of Understanding) with state governments to start mining and build steel, aluminum and other industries.
The adivasis--and the progressive and democratic organisations that have been working among them for decades in some areas--stand in the way of their elaborate plans to exploit these riches. One of these groups is the CPI(Maoist) which has set up parallel governments in many adivasi areas that organize collective farming and agricultural research and development, undertake irrigation projects, and build schools, health centers and roads with local materials. The Indian government has set out to destroy these progressive political and social developments in the adivasi-inhabited regions in order to get at the minerals that are worth hundreds of billions of dollars/euros and trillions of Indian rupees.
Salwa Judum: The immediate precursor to the major military operation code named Operation Green Hunt was the formation of Salwa Judum (“Purification Hunt”) in 2005. The SJ, a government-armed private militia, emptied 644 Chhattisgarh villages of their inhabitants (allegedly all Maoist supporters) and left adivasi villages in smoking ruins. This brutal military campaign killed thousands of villagers and scattered 300,000 of them throughout the region. The SJ forced nearly 50,000 adivasis into squalid concentration camps similar to the strategic hamlets that the US set up in Vietnam in an unsuccessful attempt to separate the Vietnamese people from the National Liberation Front.
After five years of political mobilization throughout India--which included heavy fighting in Chhattisgarh between Special Police Forces/paramilitaries and the Maoists--.the SJ forces are in retreat. According to Gandhian Himanshu Kumar, who advocates for the adivasis in south Chhattisgarh displaced by SJ, this campaign generated widespread anger, and has been the best recruiting tool the Maoists have had for many years.
Lagarh Movement: In many ways, OGH has been a reaction by the Indian government-- and the Indian capitalists and imperialists that it fronts for--to the defeat of Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh and similar government-backed tribal militias in Bihar and other states. It is also a response to the following, startling events in the Lalgarh region of West Bengal.
Starting in November 2008, tens of thousands of adivasis organized in the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities rose up in November 2008 against the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the misnamed capitalist party which is now the dominant force in the “Left Front” government that has been in power in West Bengal for decades. This party, known as “CPM”, first rose to power due to its killing of 18,000 CPI(ML) activists in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
After years of systemic police brutality, and siphoning off development funds meant for adivasis, CPM leaders and cadre have been driven out of the Lalgarh region. In response, the Indian state has blanketed the Lalgarh region with paramilitaries and police who have taken heavy casualties but have had little luck in finding the Maoists, who are able to blend into the people with ease because they are overwhelmingly adivasis, and have widespread political support.
Political Repression: Complementing the military suppression in the Lalgarh region and other states through OGH, the Centre, West Bengal’s “communist” government, and other states have made it a crime (a political crime, that is) punishable by long prison sentences to be a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The Centre and many states have also passed laws such as the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 2008, which anyone accused of contact with the Maoists can be kept in jail for 180 days without trial and without bail. When held, trials are held before a secret court with the identities of witnesses also kept secret. Such fascist laws have been a common feature of “Indian democracy” throughout the post-independence period.
The UAPA is being applied widely in West Bengal today, especially targeting Kolkata intellectuals and rights activists--some who politically support the Maoists, and other progressives who are falsely charged with being Maoist supporters.
Due to decades of application of “anti-terrorism” laws such as TADA and POTA, India’s prisons are filled with more than 100,000 political prisoners, including large numbers of Kashmiris, Muslims, Northeast peoples (see below) and Maoists, living under squalid conditions that lead to early death. Such conditions, including the denial of necessary medical care, recently led to the first casualty of the UAPA in Kolkata, Deswan Dasgupta, the editor of the Bengali edition of People’s March magazine.
Muslims and Christians: India has the third largest population of Muslims in the world, or 160 million people. Muslims are significantly poorer than Hindus. Indian Muslims live in urban ghettos and separate villages where they are periodically victimized by Hindu mobs animated by the chauvinist ideology of Hindutva. The small Christian minority in India (most of whom are lower-caste Hindus who have converted to escape the caste system) also faces severe religious persecution with the rise of fundamentalist Hindu organisations such as the RSS.
Women in India are still married off by their families irrespective of their wishes, and marriages often require large dowries. Though dowries were legally prohibited in 1961, this payment in cash or in kind by the bride’s family to the bridegroom’s family is still practiced among well-do Indian families. Dowry abuse is a rising practice in India, particularly bride burning—the burning of women whose dowries are not considered sufficient by their husbands or in-laws.
Domestic battery and rape are endemic and rarely punished by the notoriously venal, male-dominated police and courts. Women are kept out of many high-paying professions and jobs.
Kashmir and the Northeast states: Lastly, India is a prison house of nations. Nearly 2 million soldiers of the Indian Army occupy the northern, Muslim state of Kashmir where they battle commandos from Pakistan, which also claims Kashmir, and deny the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people. In the small states in the Northeast (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura), the Indian military has been carrying out counter-insurgency operations aimed at suppressing national liberation movements. Over 1/3 of the country is under military law and constitutional protections do not apply there.
As one critic put it, unlike the United States and other big power which have used their militaries in foreign imperialist ventures, “the Indian military has been used primarily against the Indian people: against Kashmiris, Nagas, Assamese, North-eastern peoples, Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, or … Maoists.”
Political Actors--not Victims
Another set of well propagated myths portray the people of India as victims who are not capable of standing up and fighting for their interests. India is presented in Western media as 5-star Delhi hotels and tourist sites, or as call center operators with names such as John and Susan—or as victims, images on fundraising posters for charity-dependency projects.
The Indian people have a long standing and proud history of struggle, including revolutionary struggle. In recent years, peasants, workers, dalits and adivasis have forged united communities, organizations and the necessary political ideas to stand up to the powerful Indian state, whose military is third in size only to China and the U.S.
These people’s communities and organizations need our political understanding and support, not our charity--or even worse, pity. For the unprecedented internal military offensive known as Operation Green Hunt, the Indian government has mobilized more than 100,000 soldiers, with helicopters, surveillance drones and combat-hardened units from Kashmir and Nagaland, to attack the areas in eastern and central India where the adivasis are best organized and the Maoists have their greatest strength.
The fighting has been increasing steadily since November, with most of the action concentrated in Chhattisgarh, but the military is having a hard time finding the Maoists, who are proving to be indistinguishable from the people and are launching periodic surprise attacks on the occupation forces.
This is where the International Campaign against the War on People in India comes in. The campaign was launched in January 2010 by activists from India, Europe and the US to support the struggle of the people in the adivasi regions to resist and stop Operation Green Hunt. We are undertaking work in several areas:
(1) Education: We are putting out a variety of educational materials about conditions in India, Operation Green Hunt and the people’s struggles in India. The ICAWPI website ( now has over 200 articles categorized by News, Resistance, Analysis/Opinion and the Campaign, is an invaluable resource for activists, educators and students. ICAWPI organizers in many countries will be getting the word out about speaking tours, educational forums, film showings, and solidarity actions.
(2) Political Mobilization: Activists in Delhi have organized marches, press conferences and forums against Operation Green Hunt. Activists spearheaded by Turkish and Kurdish immigrants in Europe organized half a dozen demonstrations condemning OGH at Indian embassies and consulates on February 5, 2010. More actions are being planned in key Indian cities this spring.
In late February, when the Indian government was making claims that the war (OGH) was only because the Maoists insisted on fighting, Kishenji, a visible (and elusive) leader of the CPI(Maoist), made a bold challenge to the Indian government: Declare a 72 day cease-fire, rip up the MoUs between the states and the capitalists, stop the mass killings of adivasis, and start up negotiations over issues such as ending “encounter killings” (assassinations of Maoists and suspected supporters), freeing tens of thousands of political prisoners being held in terrible conditions, and withdrawing military and paramilitary forces from the seven states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Maharastra and Andhra Pradesh where Operation Green Hunt is underway or being deployed.
Many intellectuals and rights activists and organizations have come out publicly in support of this offer and are attempting to break through the wall of silence in the bourgeois media about the actual terms of the Maoist offer. (See for news of these efforts.)
Union Minister PC Chidambaram, the main architect of OGH (and a former lawyer for Enron), has taken the only position he can given the reality that he is a political representative of the Indian ruling class and the US/EU imperialists behind them. Chidambaram is saying that there can be no peace talks unless the Maoists “give up violence”—that is disarm while the government is free to attack them and the adivasis and other sections of the people. And he does not say anything about the suspension of constitutional freedoms in 1/3 of the country and the widespread use of “encounter killings” (political assassinations) and torture in areas of conflict.
This is not acceptable to our campaign and to many political forces in India, who are instead willing to take up the Maoists on their offer. The campaign will be doing all that it can, particularly in India but in other countries as well, to force the Indian government to agree to a 2 ½ month cease-fire period, within which peace talks about the issues that have given rise to Operation Green Hunt can be discussed by both sides and by the public.
(3) Work in the Media: We need to break through the media white-out about Operation Green Hunt and the people’s struggles in India against it, and to combat the lies about the Maoist movement—that it is mindlessly violent and unreasonably opposed to participation in elections. This work may include letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, demonstrations to protest particularly misleading newspaper articles, and broad distribution of campaign materials in the progressive media, particularly on the net.
(4) Anti-Military Campaign: We hope to organize a campaign to cut off arms sales, joint military exercises, and training in counter-insurgency by US, Israeli and other imperialist militaries as long as the weapons of the Indian state are pointed at the poorest of India’s people.
Please join in the work of the campaign and spread the word about it to friends, family and co-workers--and around the world.