By Any Means Necessary: Volume 3, Issue 2

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Photo Credit: Taliba O Njeri

"We declare our right on this be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights as a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary." Malcolm X

By Any Means Necessary

TABLE OF CONTENTS: Section 1: Editorial Dangers of 21st Century Cointelpro: A Statement from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Remembering and Learning from the Racist Tulsa Massacre of 1921

Makungu Akinyela 4-6 Edward Onaci 7-12

Section 2: International The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Stands In Solidarity With The People Of Palestine 13-15 MXGM/ NAPO Solidarity to Colombia 15-16

Is Colonialism Dead in Africa? The Sandinistas: A Revolutionary Success Story

kwame-osagyefo kalimara 17-20 Nyeusi Jami 20-24

Section 3: Political Prisoners & Prisoners of War Rethinking Prisons

Nyeusi Jami 24-29

Section 4: Culture Word on the Street!

Ifetayo M. Flannery 29-41

Section 5: Notes on Revolutionary Theory & Practice Towards a Truth and Reconciliation Commission Dr. Mutulu Shakur For New Afrikan/Black Political Prisoners, Prisoners of War and Freedom Fighters - Part 2 41-50


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Photo Credit: Don Hogan Charles (Published in Life, March 1964, Published in Ebony, September, 1964)

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Section 1: Editorial Dangers of 21st Century Cointelpro: A Statement from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

This season as of May 19, 2021, Africans around the world are commemorating and celebrating the birth and legacy of our Shining Black Prince, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Omowale, Malcolm X. For the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Malcolm is the central ancestor of our movement for self-determination and liberation. He, along with Queen Mother Audley Moore and Robert F. Williams, is the key inspiration for what has become Revolutionary Black Nationalist theory and practice in the 21st century. As we celebrate Malcolm’s 96th Kuzaliwa (birthday) we are reminded also that Malcolm died as a result of US government meddling, spying and counterintelligence disruption, and interference of Black political organizations, resulting in his assassination and later the deaths and imprisonment under false pretenses of scores of Black revolutionaries of the Black liberation movement. Much of this political disruption and chaos was the result of undermining of the movement caused by wire taps, agent provocateurs, intentional misleading and false communication between groups created by the US government, agitation, and meddling all under the auspices of what at the time was the US government FBI COINTELPRO (counterintelligence program). Even today over 50 years later brothers and sisters languish in prison or in exile; and mothers and fathers, children, and spouses are without loved ones who were martyred because of the intrusions of the US government in its effort to destroy our freedom movement.


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While we are aware of this, we also note that this is a special period in US political reality when, more than ever before, an existential fascist threat is at our door. Our people are forced to fight for self-determination and freedom while at the same time guarding against the real threat of the fascism that has been strengthened by the rise of Donald Trump and the collaboration of the Republican Party. This fascist threat has only served to intensify the daily experience of terror from police killings, political disempowerment attempts with voter suppression, and ethnic violence against our people being normalized. Under this reality as our people have felt the pressure of oppression raining down on us, we have begun to see what looks like a crumbling and infighting between various sections of the liberation struggle. This infighting is being carried out in true 21st century style mainly through social media creating the possibility of an even more destructive disruption of our movement than was witnessed in the 1960s and ‘70s with COINTELPRO. As an organization dedicated to human rights and self-determination, MXGM has been involved in various stages of our movement and struggle for over four decades. We are well aware of the ways our collective enemy has used and taken advantage of contradictions in our movement to divide and conquer our people and stall our liberatory work. Because of this, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) is concerned with the implications of the divides and contradictions that are playing out on social media. As conflicts amongst our people arise, we need to be clear that the contradictions we have with one another are not the same as the contradictions we have with the State, the US Empire. We have an obligation to be principled towards one another as we resolve internal conflicts. As organizers and activists, we are particularly obligated to the survivors and families of the martyrs whose names we have been lifted up in our continued struggle for liberation. These contradictions among the people, we believe, should be resolved face to face, person to person, and organization to organization rather than carried out in the public arena where our people’s enemies can use them for manipulation and confusion.

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The lessons our movement has learned about COINTELPRO and the state’s surveillance of our movement should affirm the need to take our conflicts offline, away from social media platforms. It is imperative that the Black Liberation and New Afrikan Independence Movement create and engage in processes of transparency and accountability to address any concerns and/or allegations, as well as threats visited upon individuals, activists, and/or organizations in a way that heals, unifies, and strengthens our struggle. As an organization grounded in self-determination, and one which promotes the culture of unity-struggle-unity, we believe our people can successfully carry out transparent and accountable investigations and create policies and procedures that resolve our internal contradictions. We can achieve these without interference from the state, politically immature mischief makers, and those that would use this moment to create opportunities for physical and emotional harm by vigilantes. In this 96th year since the birth of Malcolm we urge comrades from every section of our liberation movement to remember Malcolm’s urging in his speech “The Ballot or the Bullet.” In it, Malcolm warned us to argue about our differences “in the closet.” A vital and real liberation movement will have differences of opinion and of practice. We should expect this, and we have a responsibility and right to be transparent and open about those differences. But we believe that no contradiction or problem between our movement is as big as the contradiction between our oppressors and all of us. In principled struggle, The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement


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Remembering and Learning from the Racist Tulsa Massacre of 1921 Edward Onaci An actor playing historical figure, Bass Reeves, stands proud and tall on the silver screen. Having just apprehended a villain, he gives hope to the townspeople whose lives and livelihoods had been threatened. An unnamed little boy watches the moving picture intently, though not for long, because chaos and destruction are engulfing the area around him. Death consumes his neighbors and disappears his parents after they get the little boy and an infant girl away from the racist massacre occurring in Tulsa’s prosperous Greenwood district. This is how the opening scene of HBO’s Watchmen unfolds. The show, which stars Regina King and is adapted from the DC Comics series by the same name, uses one of the most notorious instances of antiblack destruction to frame a story of heroism, justice, and redemption. It, along with HBO’s Lovecraft Country, passing references to “Black Wall Street” in rap songs, and documentaries have all helped to popularize a familiar, but sometimes misunderstood, massacre that occurred May 31-June 1, 1921.1 100 years later, we can derive lessons from the racist massacre in Tulsa. For those of us committed to the revolutionary movement for Black liberation, we can use the lessons of that event to inspire more organized security for our communities. The destruction of “Little Africa” and cold-blooded murders of hundreds began with a ridiculous lie. On May 31, 1921 a shoeshine named Dick Rowland allegedly tripped while entering an elevator. In the process of regaining his balance, he may have had physical contact with a teenage white girl. When the girl screamed and a mob formed, Rowland ran for his life only to be arrested and charged with assault.2 As was all-too common when a Black person was accused of violating the codes of white supremacy, bloodthirsty thugs gathered at the jail and threatened to use extralegal violence to execute Rowland. The Black community was put on alert. A small contingent of armed Black men attempted to help protect the accused. The crowd of 2000, however, was determined to unleash its rage and began shooting at Rowland’s would-be guards. Those who survived retreated back to Greenwood, trailed by a murderous horde.


There are other pop culture references, including Tobe Nwigwe, “Wildings,” and numerous documentaries such as “Black Wall Street: Then and Now” on PBS. 2 Rowland was later acquitted. He moved from Tulsa and was never heard from again. See “Dick Rowland,”

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Even as the sheriff deputized hundreds of white men who were on the verge of lynching one man and who participated in the killing and wounding of others, Greenwood residents were preparing themselves for the inevitable onslaught. A guard composed of World War I veterans helped keep the “cowardly pack” at bay. Importantly, some of those veterans had recently organized a chapter of the African Blood Brotherhood, which placed a premium on training Black people for self-defense.3 Their preparations and their efforts during the racist attack likely bought time for community members to escape or, for those who decided to stay, to arm themselves and pray. The veterans’ line held for a few hours, breaking after thousands unleashed white supremacist terrorism on the Black community. By June 1, organized gangs were moving methodically through Greenwood. They destroyed homes and businesses, looting and killing with the blessings of the state. As portrayed in Watchmen, survivors even witnessed airplanes dropping bombs meant to level the area.

Photo Credit: Special Collections, McFarlin Library, The University Of Tulsa



Makalani (2011), In the Cause of Freedom, 66-67.

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Some of the marauders were the same men whom the sheriff had deputized. It is safe to assume that, as with other instances of racist mob violence, the police, elected officials, business elite, and run-of-the-mill adventurists also participated. That helps explain why the National Guard arrested hundreds of Black people who escaped the violence rather than those who perpetrated it. In fact, the state’s militia strategically disarmed and marched Black men (and even some boys) to a makeshift prison camp at Convention Hall. With only unarmed women and children remaining, the violent hordes would complete their evil deeds with little fear of losing life and limb from courageous defenders. According to survivor Dr. Olivia J. Hooker, “that was when the real terrible things started to happen.”4 When the pogrom finally ended, upwards of 300 Greenwood residents were dead, many homeless and displaced, and the neighborhood suffered between 1.5-1.8 million dollars in damage. It was 80 years before the state of Oklahoma acknowledged that the Black community was victimized during the two-day massacre. The Black community rebuilt and is still seeking justice.5 The racist massacre in Tulsa is just one episode of violence within a history fraught with bigotry, corporate-sponsored terror and death campaigns, and a concerted effort of the United States government (at all levels) and its citizens to systematically exterminate an oppressed group. The survivors and their descendants (and other abused communities) deserve reparations and justice for what they endured. As the people of Tulsa mark the 100th year since that atrocity, we need to show our support, develop greater solidarity within and between our communities, and demand that justice be done.6 This history reveals the need for highly organized community-centered security and self-defense. At the root of such effort needs to be mutual aid. The global pandemic that began in late 2019 spurred people across the United States to find ways to support their neighbors. People fed and found internet for school children, built and enlarged community gardens, collected money to


USA Today, “Tulsa Massacre of 1921: The Painful Past of ‘Black Wallstreet,’” 5 Johnson (1998), Black Wall Street. 6 In the process, we may also remember various other atrocities, such as the pogroms in Wilmington, North Carolina (1898), Elaine, Arkansas (1919), and Rosewood, Florida (1923) and antiblack violence in Chicago, Illinois (1919) and Washington D.C. (1919), just to name a few. See David F. Krugler (2015), 1919: The Year of Racial Violence: How African Americans Fought Back (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

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Photo Credit: George Lane; image from Oklahoma State University Tulsa Special Digital Collection

help people pay bills, and more. As our elder Assata Shukur reminds us, “We must love each other and support each other.” When we do, we improve interpersonal relationships and build greater trust, making us more inclined to look out for each other’s best interests. Therefore, mutual aid is the foundation on which we build other actions to defend ourselves from that which threatens us. The stories of Tulsa Massacre survivors provide insight into how important this is. Remember that a group of veterans went to protect Rowland and others worked together to hold back the growing mob. The few hours that those brave men held their line gave their loved ones an opportunity to either flee or try to defend themselves. In the midst of death and destruction, it is important to acknowledge that those initial defenders saved countless lives.7 In the spirit of these 7

According to one eye witness from the African Blood Brotherhood, the organized defense units actually out-maneuvered and out-gunned the racist vigilantes on the ground. See Commander (July, 1921), “The Tulsa Riot,” The Crusader 4, no. 5, pp. 5-6.


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ancestors, we need to identify and work with people with such training in our communities. Although Black communities have historically had rocky relationships with the armed forces and police as institutions, there are individuals within them who care deeply for their people. In addition, there are chapters of the National African American Gun Association, martial arts schools, and numerous self-defense formations popping up across the country. What can we learn from such security professionals? What practices can we develop that improve our relationships with one another and help us better protect ourselves from food insecurity, interpersonal violence, and perhaps even attempts to repeat the racist terror of 1921? These are essential questions to raise and discuss at any time; but they are especially important now when there is greater activity in the streets demanding justice and, therefore, opportunities for more political education and organizing along these lines. Although heroes like Bass Reeves are important, we recognize that our security is an endeavor that benefits from participation of the whole community. Regardless of age, sex, and level of martial capability, everyone has a role to play. While some people will be able to take on the great responsibility of creating a frontline shield against violence, other people will be better equipped mentally and physically to organize wellness and safety checks or deliver resources for those in need. Despite the devastation of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the actions of the community before, during, and after that incident demonstrate that it is up to all of us to create and learn from community-centered security training. Ultimately, we keep us safe, and “we are our own liberators.” Resources for Further Education Bergin, Cathy. (2016). “‘Unrest among the Negroes’: The African Blood Brotherhood and the Politics of Resistance.” Race & Class, 57 no. 3, 45-58. Johnson, Hannibal B. (1998). Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa's Historic Greenwood District Fort Worth: Eaken Press. ________. (2020). Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma. Krugler, David F. (2015). 1919: The Year of Racial Violence: How African Americans Fought Back. Cambridge.

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Makalani, Minkah. (2011). In the Cause of Freedom: Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917-1939. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Oklahoma Historical Society. “The Tulsa Race Massacre.” ________. (2001). Tulsa Race Riot: A Report by the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 Tulsa City-County Library. (2021). “Commemorating Tulsa's 1921 Race Massacre - Black Wall Street,”

Photo Credit: The University of Tulsa, Special Department Collections


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Section 2: International

THE MALCOLM X GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT STANDS IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF PALESTINE One of the six core principles of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) is an opposition to genocide, which is defined by the United Nations as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” The Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine was founded on the premise of “a land without a people, for a people without a land.” This bold-faced lie was the basis for a genocidal campaign which began in the mid-1930’s and continues until this very hour. Between 1917 and 1948, British colonizers of Palestine sponsored the dispossession of tens of thousands of Palestinians from their homes to make way for the arrival of tens of thousands of European Jews to the shores of Palestine. When the Palestinian Arabs revolted in 1936 against the British and the Zionist settlers, that revolt was crushed with thousands of homes destroyed, thousands of Palestinians put in concentration camps, 200 Palestinian nationalist leaders

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deported, and ten percent of the Palestinian male population either killed, wounded, exiled, or imprisoned. In 1948, Zionist paramilitary groups launched a vicious process of ethnic cleansing in the form of large-scale attacks aimed at the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their towns and villages to build the Jewish state, massacre upon massacre, which culminated in what is called the Nakba, or “Catastrophe.” By that point, the main benefactor of the Zionists was the United States, who saw Israel as their strategic partner in taking control over the entire “Middle East.” The Zionist genocidal war against the Palestinians was in many ways identical to the United States’ settler colonial project of attempted extermination of the Indigenous population here, and the brutal enslavement of African people to work on the stolen land. These twin evils of United States and Zionist Israeli genocidal colonialism have forged an unbreakable bond of solidarity between the freedom fighting forces of the Native Americans, the New Afrikans (African Americans), and the people of Palestine. Our Black Liberation Movement has always received unwavering support from the Palestinians, both on the ground here in the US, as well as from Occupied Palestine and the various refugee camps that millions of Palestinians live in today. As the Zionist occupation machine revs up their efforts to complete the displacement of all Palestinians from their homeland, it is incumbent upon MXGM, and all Black people in the United State empire, to stand up boldly in support of our Palestinian friends and comrades. We unequivocally condemn the Zionists’ brutal occupation of Palestine and their continued taking of more land and building of new settlements. We unequivocally condemn the United States’ continued military and political support for the apartheid regime of the State of Israel. We call upon the United States to immediately cease funding, and to publicly condemn, the Zionist war machine. We call for the Self-Determination of the Palestinian people, in being allowed to determine for themselves what is the best path forward for restoring their land and their people, with international support. And we call upon all decent and humane people of the United States, and around the world, to join us in this clear condemnation of what has been a decades-long violation of international law.


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Freedom and Self-Determination for the Palestinian people! Freedom and Self-Determination for the New Afrikan people! Freedom and Self-Determination for the Native American people! Stiff resistance to the colonizers!

MXGM/ NAPO Solidarity to Colombia

Demonstrators protest in Bogotá against Colombia’s government © AFP via Getty Images

The New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) expresses our solidarity with the peoples movements of Colombia, particularly the Afro-descendants, indigenous people, peasants and workers. The Colombian peoples’ movements are waging a vigilant fight against the political repression of the fascist Duque regime. Since April 28, the Colombian people’s resistance has engaged in a national strike to combat the neoliberal economic policies of the Duque regime. Over 50 Colombians have

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been killed by Duque’s repressive military forces during the national strike. We call upon the international community to challenge the human rights violations of the Duque regime and its genocidal policies. The Duque regime has been waging a genocidal war against the Afro and indigenous movements for several years. Afro descendant and indigenous leaders and militants are targeted for assassination. Part of this genocidal warfare is to deny Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples land acquisition that was promised during negotiations between the right-wing government and left guerilla forces in the early 1990s. We support the indigenous Afro-descendants' right to return to their stolen land and receive their promised reparations, and measures for non-repetition of genocidal war. Free the land of Afro and Indigenous Colombia Down with the Duque regime Solidarity with the National Strike End the Genocidal war


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Is Colonialism Dead in Africa? kwame-osagyefo kalimara “There is not occupation of territory on the one hand and independence of persons on the other. It is the country as a whole, its history, its daily pulsation that are contested, disfigured, in the hope of a final destruction. Under these conditions, the individual's breathing is an observed, an occupied breathing. It is a combat breathing.” Franz Fanon, A Dying Colonialism The African liberation movements of the 1950s through the 1980s would lead us to believe that colonialism on the African continent died. We saw such notable independence movements in Algeria, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, and Zimbabwe to name a few. This process of deconialization was violent. According to Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth violence is the only language spoken by the colonist and that violence is the only way to respond to an inherently violent system. The National Liberation Front (Algeria), the National Liberation Front of Angola, the Kenya African National Union and the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde and FRELIMO are only a few of the liberation formations engaged in guerilla warfare in Africa. They all understood that the colonial rulers would not release control unless forced to do so. It is important to acknowledge that the transition to independence was not seamless for any of the new nations. Colonial rule officially began in 1870, the Scramble for Africa. The Berlin Agreement of 1885 confirmed Africa’s partition. For nearly 100 years Africans were under alien/foreign control. Generally speaking, any return to pre-colonial order was impossible to conceive of, and it in fact has yet to come into fruition. Nor have the continent’s peoples been able to create something better, non-oppressive, and exploitive. Nonetheless, victory was to be celebrated. In the United States empire, New Afrikans rejoiced at the victories Africa was experiencing. Many of our revolutionary formations and progressive organizations politically and materially supported Africa in its pursuit of independence and sovereignty. Our celebratory support is seen on May 25th, African Liberation Day (ALD). Initially, ALD was named African Freedom Day. It was founded on April 15, 1958 during the first Conference of Independent Africa States in

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Ghana under the stewardship of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Eight independent African nations were participants, making it the first Pan-African conference in the continent. As the number of African independent nations grew, on May 25, 1963, 31 African leaders convened to found the Organization of African Unity (OAU). African Freedom Day was changed to African Liberation Day. ALD is celebrated in Ghana, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and the United States to name a few. Africa and the Pan-African movements have indeed come a long way. There have been victories and many setbacks. Our external challenges are compromised by our internal ones. We have yet to purge the “alien” in us created by colonialism. But, did colonialism die? Are all countries in Africa independent? Neo-colonialism is an enemy still confronting us. Take, for example, Western Sahara. Located on the northwest coast in West Africa, Western Sahara has been under occupation by Morocco since 1975 when Spain was requested by the United Nations (UN) to decolonize the territory. The UN lists Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory since 1963 because its people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government. The Sahrawis are the primary ethnic group of Western Sahara. The Sahrawi has a nationalist movement, the Polisario Front which the UN considers to be the legitimate representative of its people and maintains their right to self-determination. In 1976 the Polisario Front proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as its government in exile in Algeria. From 1975 to 1991, the Western Sahara war of independence from Morocco unfortunately resulted in numerous civilian casualties. Moreover, during this period thousands of Sahrawi refugees living in Algeria were expelled. This war and repression resulted in severe human rights abuses. The UN in 1991 brokered a ceasefire which ended the guerrilla war. Although the ceasefire has been maintained, the conditions of the Sahrawi remain complex and unresolved. In 1984 the Organization of African Unity (OAU) recognized the SADR as a full member. Morocco at that time shared the same status. Morocco protested by withdrawing its membership. In 2017 the African Union (AU), successor to the OAU readmitted Morocco by arguing a peaceful solution could be achieved between Morocco and SADR and that the AU


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would be the peacekeeping force within the UN mission in the buffer zone built by Morocco within Western Sahara. A fuller narrative of the issues of Western Sahara can be gleaned from a review of Iara Lee’s Life is Waiting: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara and the related Timeline of Western Sahara. Moreover, Democracy Now! on December 24, 2020 aired “Western Sahara: A Rare Look Inside Africa’s Last Colony as U.S. Recognizes Moroccan Occupation.” Its introduction to the show said: “The United States has become the first nation in the world to recognize Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara. The Trump administration announced the major policy shift on December 10 — International Human Rights Day — as part of a deal that saw Morocco become the fourth Arab nation to normalize ties to Israel in recent months.” It is important to acknowledge that the Biden administration has not reversed the Trump policy.8 A number of international human rights organizations have been extremely critical of Morocco’s actions in Western Sahara. The most prominent are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In January of this year, Bill Fletcher, Jr., executive editor of Global African Worker, a past president of TransAfrica Forum, and a longtime trade unionist and Suzanne Scholte, Defense Freedom Foundation & U.S. Western Sahara Foundation organized a meeting to create plans and action items to “influence US foreign policy on the Western Sahara; press for Morocco’s isolation in order to support Sahrawi self-determination.” The Western Sahara Campaign’s objectives are to: 1. Have the United States recognize the SADR, 2. Have Morocco withdraw from Western Sahara, 3. In accordance with the Charter of the AU transition authority to SADR and 4. Have an expeditious return of the Sahrawi refugees and Sahrawi diaspora to their homeland. This is a call to ALL Pan-Africanist to action and support the Western Sahara Campaign. Africa is not free until all of Africa is free! Let us make it happen.


“Western Sahara: A Rare Look Inside Africa’s Last Colony as U.S. Recognizes Moroccan Occupation,” (2020), Democracy Now!

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“For Africa to me… is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.”– Maya Angelou Ancestral blessings. Free the Land!!! Resources for Further Education Clarke, John Henrik . 1992. Africans at the Crossroads: African World Revolution 2nd Edition. Trenton: African World Press. Cooper, Tom and Grandolini, Albert. 2019. Showdown in Western Sahara. Volume 1: Air Warfare over the Last African Colony, 1945-1975 (Africa@War) Warwick, England: Helion and Company. Lee, Iara. 2013. “Timeline of Western Sahara,” 14_0.pdf “Western Sahara War.” Wikipedia, Zunes, Stephen and Mundy, Jacob. 2010. Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse Studies on Peace and Conflict Resolution). Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press.

The Sandinistas: A Revolutionary Success Story Nyeusi Jami In January of 2021, we had Erika Takeo and Sara Roschdi as guests on our radio show, R.A.P. (Revolutionary African Perspectives). Erika is part of the international leadership with Friends of the ATC (Asociación de Trabajadores/as del Campo - Farmworkers Association) and has been based in Nicaragua for many years. She’s central to building international networks in solidarity with Nicaragua’s grassroots. Sara participated in the 2019 solidarity delegation focused on the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution which she produced into a Master’s thesis on women’s cooperatives in Nicaragua. Sara is also a member of the Chiapas Support Committee, which offers international solidarity to the Zapatistas in Mexico. What follows is a synopsis of what we learned from our discussion.


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In 1909, U.S. troops helped to depose the ruler of Nicaragua and began the process of setting up military bases in the Central American nation. Between 1927 and 1933, guerrilla soldiers led by Augusto Cesar Sandino fought a campaign to remove the U.S. military presence. In 1934, Sandino was killed on the orders of the Nicaragua National Guard commander, General Anastasio Somoza Garcia. In 1937, General Somoza became president of the country, heralding the start of a 44-year dictatorship by his family. In 1961, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) was founded, inspired by Sandino, and determined to liberate Nicaragua from the Somoza dictatorship. In 1979, the Sandinista revolution succeeded in ousting Somoza from power. The FSLN, commonly known as the Sandinistas, established a government led by Daniel Ortega. Erika Takeo emphasized how the Sandinistas nationalized the millions of acres of land held by the Somoza family and gave it to peasants to be able to grow food for their families and their communities. During this time in the 1980s there was also a literacy campaign inspired by Cuba’s literacy campaign, with the support of many Cubans who went to Nicaragua. They were able to reduce the rate of illiteracy in the country from about 50% to 12% in a matter of months. This work was done not only in Spanish but also in indigenous and Creole languages spoken by the indigenous and African people on the Caribbean coast of the country. Sandino’s vision a century ago was to create an economy that was based on people having land and creating their own cooperatives; the Nicaraguans call this Popular Economy. That is the basis for the socialist project that exists in Nicaragua today.

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Julia Salinas of LA FEM harvests ripe coffee cherries in Nicaragua. Photo by Julia Baumgartner for Cafe Campesino. September 2012.

In 1982, the U.S. began funding a group of right-wing militias in Nicaragua called the Contras. The CIA facilitated the sale of cocaine in Black communities inside the US and also sold weapons to right-wing forces in Iran and Panama in order to raise the money to fund the Contras. The Contras were an especially brutal army, using rape and torture of innocent people as war tactics. The cost of fighting the U.S./Contra war completely devastated Nicaragua, in spite of the success of the Sandinista social programs. The aftermath of that resulted in the Sandinistas losing the election of 1990 and beginning what is called the Neoliberal Period. From 1990 to 2006 there was a U.S. backed government in Nicaragua. The government attempted to undo many of the Sandinista reforms, privatizing what had been nationalized, and inviting the forces of imperialism to come in and regain influence within the country. However, despite the imperialists controlling the media and the military, the Sandinistas organized the power of the people to regain power through elections in 2006. Nicaragua has become the safest country in the Central America region, by far. Reducing poverty, promoting social inclusion, and having police forces who serve the community rather than repress the community, allows Nicaragua to have the lowest homicide rate in Central


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America. Neighboring Honduras has a murder rate that is around 10 times that of Nicaragua. The news is full of stories right now about people fleeing violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, trying to enter the U.S. There is no mass exodus from Nicaragua. Their people want to stay there and take advantage of the social safety net that their country offers. Organizing workers had been completely criminalized under the Somoza dictatorship. The revolution was the beginning of mass unionization. Before the revolution 27,000 workers were in labor unions, many of them playing crucial roles in the general strikes that brought down Somoza. Within just three years, the number of unionized workers quintupled to 150,000. The Sandinista has a dual policy of promoting unions and worker cooperatives, using government resources to facilitate the empowerment of workers. There is a great push for gender equality in the Nicaraguan revolution. Sara Roschdi painted a beautiful picture for us of the struggle to end patriarchy in Nicaragua. Municipal governments mandate having equal numbers of men and women in positions. A lot of the direct aid for farmers is focused on cooperatives of women, giving them funding, livestock, chickens, vegetable seeds, fruit saplings and technical assistance. A 2007 land reform redistributed land to 80,000 campesino/a (farmer) families and put the land titles in the name of women so they would no longer be financially dependent on either husbands or large landowners. Nicaragua’s focus on food sovereignty has allowed them to thrive in ways that places like Venezuela and Cuba have not been able to do. Those countries are heavily reliant on imports to feed their populations and those imports have been severely restricted by U.S. embargoes. Nicaraguans have been not only able to feed themselves but they have also given food aid to Venezuela and Cuba. The U.S. attempts to overthrow the Sandinista Revolution didn’t end with the end of the Contra War. The U.S. has never stopped funding right-wing groups who seek to overthrow the government and install puppet leaders who will do the bidding of the U.S. In 2018, there was a failed violent coup attempt backed by the U.S. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a CIA front, created during the Contra War specifically for training and funding people in

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other countries to overthrow governments that refuse to allow the U.S. to control them. This NED and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) both provided funds and training for a set of groups that attempted to create a narrative against the government, that would manipulate the minds of the people to oppose their own interests. They spread lies about supposed police brutality upon the people from the Nicaraguan police which never happened. They attempted to whip the people into a frenzy by attacking public and private property including health clinics, hospitals, ambulances, and universities, as well as brutalizing people. Ultimately, the people saw this activity for what it really was and the coup failed. The revolution remains strong today. As revolutionary nationalists inside the U.S., we salute the government and the people of Nicaragua for withstanding the imperialist onslaught and maintaining their ability to independently provide for the human rights of their people. We also look forward to future opportunities to show practical solidarity with the government and the people of Nicaragua. The struggle continues, but victory is certain. * You can hear the full episode of R.A.P. here * For more information on Nicaragua, check out coverage in TeleSur English. Or read the e-book The Revolution Won’t Be Stopped

Section 3: Political Prisoners & Prisoners of War Rethinking Prisons Nyeusi Jami For this issue of BAMN, we want to take a different kind of look at the plight of our Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War. We are examining the intersection between the effort to free our freedom fighters and the larger prison abolition movement. We push back against the widely accepted ideology that allows the United States to imprison more people than any other country in the world, that allows the Africans in this country to be locked up so much more than any other demographic, and that allows people to stay in prison for three or four or five decades.


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The United States claims to be the leader of the free world. They claim to be the arbiter of moral authority when it comes to which countries are respecting the human rights of their citizens. We know these to be lies. However, we are committed to protecting our human rights by any means necessary. So telling the truth and shaming the Devil is one of the strategies that we can try as a way to gain ourselves some room to breathe here in the belly of the beast.

AP Photo / Matthias Schrader A prison cell in Landsberg am Lech in Southern Germany

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A cell at Angola Prison in Louisiana Credit: Karen Foley Photography / Shutterstock

Western European democracies are places that have a much different relationship to prisons and policing than that of the United States. Prisons in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany, for example, actually structure their prison systems with the goal of rehabilitation. Germany’s Prison Act even states “the sole aim of incarceration is to enable prisoners to lead a life of social responsibility free of crime upon release.” The physical space of these facilities -- which feature moderate temperatures, ample light, and wide hallways -- is conducive to rehabilitation. We know that U.S. prisons are not built that way. The fundamental difference between the U.S. approach and what these European countries do is that the Europeans view their citizens as fully human and want to respect that humanity. The U.S. prison system is deliberately used to dehumanize people and use their traumatization of the population as an excuse to keep people locked up. Check out these quotes from an article focused on the prison system in the Netherlands: “We work on two aims: number one, preventing another crime, and then on psychiatric suffering and the social problems that come with it.”


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“Nobody would approve of the crimes or violence they have committed, but there is a very sad world behind them. If you want to mend all this, it will take a long time.” “Half of the people in Dutch prisons have received a one-month sentence” “A large proportion of cases are ‘have-nots’. These people are on the one hand extremely dangerous, like the woman this morning, who started a fire for the nth time,” … “They hurt themselves and other people, but these are also people who alongside their personal disorder or psychosis often often grew up with a mother who was an addict and a father who disappeared without a trace, with no money, or no food, or no winter coat … or nobody who says ‘it’s cold outside – take your jacket’. If you don’t have these things as a child, you don’t learn how to make attachments.” Can you imagine a world in which government officials took this kind of approach with the millions of Black folks in this country who have been locked up? Prisoners in the Netherlands and Germany have a fair amount of control over their daily lives. They get to wear their own clothes and make their own meals, and they’re required to work and take classes. Guards also give them some sense of privacy by knocking before entering their cells. Prisoners have keys to their cells and separate, walled toilets. Inmates even sometimes get a chance to spend time away from prison. Some inmates in the Netherlands “report” to prison during the week and then go home and spend the weekends with their families so they can maintain those relationships. Must be nice. Even though human rights advocates say solitary can amount to torture (depending on the length of time it’s used), American prisoners have in some cases spent years in solitary. This is especially true when it comes to our freedom fighters, some of whom have spent decades in solitary confinement. German and Dutch prisons only rarely use solitary, and when they do, it’s only for a few hours or days, according to the Vera Institute. “This policy implicitly recognises the deleterious impact lengthy segregation can have on an individual,” their report noted, “and acknowledges that there are better, more humane ways to respond to rule-breaking within prison.” We can go on and on about these kinds of differences but what is the main point of this? The continued existence of police and prisons is supported by the myth that if they went away then

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there would be no way to keep society safe. However, the truth is that police and prisons don’t make us safer. They actually bring extreme levels of harm to our communities. In the United States, things that are criminalized are often not harmful at all, e.g. drug use, prostitution, or taking a candy bar from a store. Conversely, things that are incredibly harmful to our people are often not criminalized, e.g. police brutality, poverty wages, under-funding schools, and high costs of housing. Along with this, we are told that people who commit violence are too dangerous to be in society and should be locked up for decades or for life. This is the logic that gets applied to our Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War. However, a report from has this to say: “Recidivism data do not support the belief that people who commit violent crimes ought to be locked away for decades for the sake of public safety. People convicted of violent and sexual offenses are actually among the least likely to be rearrested, and those convicted of rape or sexual assault have rearrest rates 20% lower than all other offense categories combined. More broadly, people convicted of any violent offense are less likely to be rearrested in the years after release than those convicted of property, drug, or public order offenses. One reason: age is one of the main predictors of violence. The risk for violence peaks in adolescence or early adulthood and then declines with age, yet we incarcerate people long after their risk has declined.” Mariame Kaba recently granted an interview to Kaba is a long-time prison abolitionist and author of the new book We Do This ‘Til We Free Us. She makes a poignant point: “My understanding of prison industrial complex abolition is that it’s a vision of a restructured society where we have everything that we need to live dignified lives…PIC (Prison Industrial Complex) abolition is necessarily anti-racist and anti-oppressive. Dismantling capitalism is central to PIC abolition. I hope people don’t sleep on that. PIC abolition has to be anti-imperialist, internationalist, and global, in a reciprocal way—not the US looking out at the world, but the world commenting upon the US too. PIC abolition has to be feminist. And PIC abolitionists are concerned with ending sources of all violence. Prisons don’t solve violence. They’re the most concentrated violence that exists. They’re designed to facilitate premature death. You can’t be anti-violence and pro-prison. It’s really that simple and that difficult.”


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This simple but difficult work is the task ahead of us, if we desire to free our people from mass incarceration and liberate our Political Prisoners. We have to use every means available and any means necessary to destroy the mythology which says that prisons are the answer. For more information, check out these sources: nds htts:// s-implications-for-the-united-states

Section 4: Culture

[ Word on the Street! ] ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ifetayo M. Flannery

For this special issue during the season of Malcom X festivities, we are launching a new editorial called Word on the Street! This section is intended to highlight the local issues, thoughts, and developments of New Afrikans (Black folk) in cities where we have MXGM chapters in ways that are unmediated by algorithmic social media feeds.

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We wanna hear from the people and We do it fa’ the Culture! On May 14th, 2021 I interviewed four MXGM members from all sides of the country, North, South, Midwest, and West, to tell us what’s the “word on the street” among New Afrikans around certain contemporary issues in their cities. This editorial highlights four locales: Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Oakland. I asked each MXGM member the following questions regarding the Black pulse in their city: ● What is the most pressing issue folk are talking about in your local community? ● What was your city's response to the Derrick Chauvin verdict? ● Are folk getting the covid vaccine? Why or why not? ● What are y'all doing in preparation for Malcolm X Festival?

The interviews have been edited for clarity and consistent formatting:

Be next to represent your city for Black August!!


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Atlanta Interview with: Nyeusi Jami ● What is the most pressing issue folk are talking about in your local community? “Right now, the most pressing issue in the streets is the gas shortage. People are freaking out about having to go to three or four gas stations to find gas because of this apparent cyber attack affecting the pipeline on the southeastern U.S.… it's mostly an issue of people hoarding gas; trying to fill up whatever bottles they have, similar to how people went out during covid and bought up toilet paper out of fear. It's an interesting phenomenon that happens in a capitalist society; no one is thinking about what other people need… One of the features of Atlanta is that a lot of people have been pushed out of the inner city or the perimeter so people gotta drive from places like Douglassville or Lithonia to their places of employment so you normally driving about 30-45 minutes everyday; now you gotta worry about gas to continue driving to work.” ● What was your city's response to the Derrick Chauvin verdict? “People were overwhelmingly happy about the [Chauvin] verdict; breathing a sigh of relief to get some level of accountability for people who kill us. Not really feeling like this is a sign of things to come because we have a whole lot of other officers who should be on trial…so there is not a whole lot to be happy about but there is a sense of relief… there have definitely been protests and all kinds of gatherings in support of [George] Floyd from the day he was killed up until the moment of the verdict. People were fully prepared to really get it in- to get active in these streets, but the verdict came back the way they hoped so there was none of that…There were definitely some businesses that were boarded up in expectation of some rebellion. Businesses were anticipating that the verdict would not go the way the people wanted and they were prepared to keep people out of their establishments.” ● Are folk getting the covid vaccine? Why or why not?

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“Atlanta is really like a tale of two different cities when it comes to Black folks. You got Atlanta natives who were born and raised there who are in large part working class people…so those people are mostly either indifferent or completely opposed to the vaccine. I think they definitely are aware of the relationship between them and the system. They either don’t give a damn about what the system is doing or they assume the system doesn’t have their best interest one way or the other. Then there is the other half, the city within the city who are mostly transplants, mostly aspirational middle class folks, who couldn’t wait to get the vaccine, basically. There are lots of Black folk who are getting it and many who are not- people had already been outside before the vaccine rolled out. Most establishments were enforcing mask requirements but hood establishments- it was whatever.” ● What are y'all doing in preparation for Malcolm X Festival? “Unfortunately, this is our second year in a row not having an in-person Malcolm X festival. We are having a virtual Malcolm X Festival. We will be back next year, ancestors willing. This year it is a nationally convened festival with all of our Malcolm X Grassroots Movement chapters taking part. We will have talks, featured works, and music artists from around the country dealing with the core principles of MXGM. We are inviting all of those who normally attend with us to come and commune with us online…and we are preparing to get into the streets this summer with the physical copies of the BAMN News Journal- talking to people about what our issues are and what our plans are towards building self-determination in the city of Atlanta.” Additional Comments We recently got the announcement from the mayor of the city of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, that she does not plan to seek re-election. There is some worry among folks, especially people born and raised in Atlanta that she may be the last in a long string of Black mayors in Atlanta. There is some worry that we are losing the Atlanta way. And I would just encourage everyone in the city of Atlanta and the Atlanta metro area that it is possible to build and continue to build Black power for the city inside and outside of


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government offices. Whatever happens with the upcoming elections, there is work to be done to build people’s power for Black folks in the city.”

Detroit Interview with: Ikemba Agulu

● What is the most pressing issue folk are talking about in your local community? “It’s a gamut of issues. The main one is water affordability. When Detroit was forced to go bankrupt in the last decade, our water system became privatized. So there have been a lot of water shut-offs and an increase in rates that have been contributing to water shut-offs…which is a human right. Housing affordability as well- has been a major issue. The city has gone through a lot of tax foreclosures where people couldn’t afford to pay the taxes on their homes and the county took over their homes. And it was recently discovered specifically in the county of Detroit that the city was overtaxing people during the last decade; so a lot of people more than likely illegitimately lost their homes. And

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then gentrification, now that we have a corporatized mayor who is caucasian, he is bringing in a lot of gentrifiers which is causing rent to go up… you know majority of New Afrikans in Detroit rent their homes. And of course, crime- intra-community violence, and police terrorism.” ● What was your city's response to the Derrick Chauvin verdict? “It was definitely celebratory to see a conviction; especially in the case where you don’t see too many convictions for state sanctioned murders- especially since you had the video of his lynching. It was also sober too. A lot of us are remaining sober-minded. I would say almost thirty years ago we had a case here in the city [Detroit] with a New Afrikan, Malice Green, who was murdered by the police; in which the police were tried, they were convicted but the sentencing was weird. I don’t think they got the time they deserved, so that’s why we are just waiting for the sentencing. And then they were able to appeal and get out early…A lot of Detroiters are almost holding our breath to see what the sentencing is gonna look like…[At the time of the verdict] people were on call to protest any injustice that was going to be dealt out by the state. It was definitely a sigh of relief with the verdict, a lot of people were on edge.” ● Are folk getting the covid vaccine? Why or why not? “With the New Afrikans I been talking to its almost been about 50/50. There has definitely some hesitancy with the history of New Afrikans and the government, especially with the history of medicine, vaccines- you know going back to the Tuskegee experiments. A lot of New Afrikans have distrust against the government, especially with how quickly the vaccine came out. People wanna wait to see how this pans out. Then I would say, you have about 40-50 percent of New Afrikans that are getting the vaccine because they have known someone that had covid and didn’t survive it that was relatively in good health. They also may have friends and family in the medical field and a lot of them are leaning towards the science and just trying to get things back to pre-covid normalcy…Detroit has been pretty open since March of this year which led to a crazy third wave but the governor of Michigan had been sued over making statewide


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restrictions for covid, so she was paralyzed from making state wide restrictions and they all had to come from the health department.” ● What are y'all doing in preparation for Malcolm X Festival? “We are definitely spreading the word, since this is gonna be the second year online unfortunately. It’s bitter-sweet since you don’t get to gather like we’ve done in the past with comrades and other community members…we post a lot online- Malcolm speeches, quotes, on facebook, Instagram, twitter; especially because Malcolm is one of our ideological ancestors in the New Afrikan Independence Movement. We push his line of self-determination, self-defense, self-governance, Land… just to make sure the new Afrikan community and the colonized communities overall understand his politics; how it relates to us today and our struggle for liberation.”

Additional Comments “Detroit is a resilient city. It’s been through a lot- its bankruptcy, not even having a mayor…but its one of the largest New Afrikan cities in the empire, you know. It’s a lot of New Afrikan genius here in the city- sometimes there is stigma in the media about the city but its so much genius and culture still here. And like we say, ‘Waddup Doe!’ Come visit us!”

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philadelphia Interview with: Darasia Selby

● What is the most pressing issue folk are talking about in your local community? “There is a lot. But I would say the issue that people are talking about the most is gun violence, definitely. Right now, because of where the count is, the homicide rate by shooting, we are likely going to outpace where we were last year which was the highest rate in thirty years. Just about everyday we’re hearing how somebody got shot. Equally for the community as well as activists, that is like the major issue. Another issue that always comes up in Philly is poverty. We do have the distinction of being the poorest of the largest ten cities in the U.S. Of course with poverty comes so many problems…education, schools closing because of supposed lack of funding, gentrification- folks just being displaced out of their neighborhoods by people who can afford all these new developments being built.” ● What was your city's response to the Derrick Chauvin verdict? “It was mixed. There were people who were definitely happy there was a guilty verdict because so many times we’ve seen how this plays out where there is an obvious guilty person and then we get to court and it’s a non-guilty verdict. In this case people were definitely happy that the guilty verdict came down but there also was this sense that this


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still doesn’t really change anything. Especially since at the same time we heard about Ma’Khia Bryant. It felt like maybe a sigh of relief, but not like anything actually changed because of it… people were definitely prepared [in case things went left], there were already fliers and signal messages and things just buzzing around, because if that was a non-guilty verdict we were ready to take the streets. And honestly, some people still took the streets because again it was that feeling that it didn’t really change anything in terms of how our people are being policed and how police show up in our community- it doesn’t change that long-term problem we are facing.” ● Are folk getting the covid vaccine? Why or why not? “That is mixed too. I know folks who have taken it, and I know folks who haven’t. Interestingly enough, I folks who were asked to do security for an event that was encouraging Black folks to not take the vaccine. They were sort of comparing this to the many times that we have been experimented on by the medical industry… just general feelings that the vaccine is not safe. I would say initially when the vaccine first rolled out there were a lot of complaints about accessibility; really long lines, seniors having to stand for hours to wait for the vaccine. That definitely seems to be better in terms of overall coordination…I can go in Rite Aid now and see that they are giving out the vaccine. So its mixed; I know people who are like, ‘we need to get it’ and folks who are like ‘naw, I don’t trust the healthcare industry’.” ● What are y’all doing in preparation for Malcolm X Festival? “There normally is a festival here, a committee of folks; not MXGM, we’ve been a part of it but we don’t lead that committee. It is still happening, most of it is going to be virtual and then some smaller things in person. Of course we are gearing up for MXGM’s festival, encouraging people to watch-organizing ‘watch parties’. That’s what we’re doing.”

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oakland Interview with: Sanyika Bryant

● What is the most pressing issue folk are talking about in your local community? “From the conversations I’ve had with people, police, homelessness, and jobs. Jobs and housing are talked about kinda hand in hand. People ain’t getting paid enough and then the rent is too high. There is so much homelessness over here, almost everywhere you go there are encampments, all over the city. It’s interesting with the rents here, they are really high and a lot of people have lost their homes here because of covid. A lot of people have had to move away from the city to find a cheaper place to live and if they couldn’t they’ve ended up on the street. I know people myself who have ended up on the street.” ● What was your city's response to the Derrick Chauvin verdict? “One thing that was coming up is that people were shocked that he got convicted. They weren’t expecting that at all. People were ready to protest; just like Oakland always does, people were about to be turnt again. They were so ready for that. We got people out here who got their fireworks and everything; people were shooting off fireworks a couple weeks before the verdict came. People were definitely happy about it [the verdict], they were like ‘this is cool, we got one’. Then others were saying ‘if we hadn’t protested and


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burning stuff down it wouldn’t have happened’. Others said they didn’t know if it was really going to be a full victory because he may get an appeal; it's still not said and done. It was a lot of mixed feelings but in general people were really happy that he was convicted…People in Oakland are used to police violence. It's like a reality of life here. Around the same time as the verdict came down it was like two instances of police violence out here. One a Latino person in Alameda, I believe Mario Gonzales. Also, there has just been more police on the street. Folks have been talking a lot about an increase in crime; mostly robberies. The police and the mayor have been talking about it as though it’s a super charged kind of threat.” ● Are folk getting the covid vaccine? Why or why not? “I got vaccinated and when I went I didn’t hardly see any Black people there. Interestingly enough, a lot of the workers administering the vaccines were Black. Both times when I went it was mostly Asian and Latinos- and there are Black people living in the area I was in…I didn’t see many there. From conversations I’ve had, there are a lot of [Black] people getting the vaccine but also a lot of skepticism around it. I would say it's almost 50/50 in terms of conversations in my community. Some people I know were skeptical but still got it because they needed to return to work or something like that…In general, in California, they are telling people that when they get their vaccine card they will need to keep them to participate in things later on down the line. Some of the young folks I’ve spoken to, young like in grade school, are asking why they are forced to take the vaccine to go back to school. Most of the young people I am in communication with are skeptical of the vaccine and concerned about having to go back to school.” ● What are y'all doing in preparation for Malcolm X Festival? “This year there is not going to be a festival in Oakland but we are gonna be directing people to the online festivities. Technically the gathering hasn’t happened in three years now because we got rained out in 2019, for the first time ever! And then of course there was covid last year and this year. Even with the restrictions a lot of our people have been going by the lake, Lake Merritt, and doing subsistence vending and hanging out. In a

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large respect Black folks are still out and about so there may be an unofficial type of thing happening because folks generally do come out to Malcolm X festival out here.” Additional Comments “One thing that’s happening in Oakland is that there is a positive struggle that’s been happening. Last year there was a victory, the Black Organizing Project led this work, they were able to get the Oakland Unified School District to disband the school police department. So there’s no police in schools in Oakland anymore. However, right now there is this implementation phase- creating what the alternative will be. They are setting up things like cultural ambassadors for the schools to mediate problems, there is a hotline number folks can call instead of OPD; there some organizing with the teachers because some of them are still going to want to call the OPD even though they shouldn’t. We gotta look out for police trying to maneuver their way back in, blaming youth for things to justify taking back over the jurisdiction of the school district. There is a victory but we have to protect the integrity of the victory.”


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SPEAK YO’ PIECE If you want to submit your poetry, short stories, social media editorials, or you want to be interviewed for word on the street! To represent your city Email: Dr. Ife @ Subject line your email: BAMN News- Culture

Section 5: Notes on Revolutionary Theory & Practice Towards a Truth and Reconciliation Commission For New Afrikan/Black Political Prisoners, Prisoners of War and Freedom Fighters - Part 2 Dr. Mutulu Shakur The previous issue of BAMN News included an edited and trimmed version of Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s argument about the need for a truth and reconciliation process (TRC) in the United States. Learning from TRC in South Africa, Dr. Shakur explains why and how we may center freedom fighters, and especially political prisoners and prisoners of war, through a TRC in the United States. By Any Means Necessary


For this issue, we present Dr. Shakur’s further thinking on the matter. After circulating his initial thoughts, comrades raised questions and shared critiques. The aim of this second essay is to answer those responses. In doing so, he moves from a general theory of TRC into a more detailed explanation of how such a process could look here. As with the first installment, this version of Dr. Shakur’s essay is edited and trimmed with the permission of the author. From Dr. Mutulu Shakur January 1st, 2011: This paper is a response to questions and concerns regarding the “Discussion Paper” of the application of a Truth and Reconciliation Tribunal that addresses the conflict between the civil rights/black liberation struggle against the U.S. COINTELPRO low intensity warfare. There are some among our ranks who have raised some legitimate and novel questions and concerns as to why I have chosen to espouse the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process. I do this to shed light on, and to gain relief for, our political prisoners and allies of the black liberation movement. Below, I will endeavor to address some of the questions and concerns. A TRC process would dispute the identification of freedom fighters as terrorists It’s important to acknowledge and understand that activists in our movement, who have made an effort to build support for political prisoners and prisoners of war in the U.S., have utilized and exhausted all available avenues that were open to them to gain relief for our freedom fighters. We should understand that a process that gains relief for our freedom fighters should naturally contain the memorializing of our rich history of contemporary resistance to the repressor’s racism, and economic apartheid. This history is important for the present generation of activists who seem to have no notion of the countless enormous sacrifices that were made to pave the way for their present condition. The false equating of our freedom fighters, political prisoners, and prisoners of war to so-called terrorists must be vehemently combated. We must address the prevailing amnesia, and we must


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be successful in our earnest endeavor to develop a mass movement that through its will and organizational accomplishments, ushers in a victory which legitimizes the efforts of New Afrikan Freedom Fighters who are labeled terrorists by the US government. The government has won the battle of shaping the narrative that those of us who dare to resist oppression by any means necessary, including the use of armed self-defense are terrorists. The struggle of New Afrikan Freedom Fighters and our armed resistance to oppression here in the U.S. should not be equated to terrorism. It’s important to understand the effect the oppressors’ propaganda has had on the normal activist’s willingness to become engaged. The word terrorist, much like communist and socialist, is being abused by the oppressors as it disguises reality and impoverishes language and makes a banality out of the discussion of war, revolution, conflict, and politics. As Christopher Hitchens once said, “It’s the perfect instrument for the cheapening of public opinion and for the intimidation of dissent.” A process that is developed on a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and/or the tribunals, has been the model used around the world to open discussion on the issue of resistance versus the oppressive state. This TRC process disputes the label of terrorism and decriminalizes legitimate forms of resistance against oppression. It equally provides an avenue for healing and rebuilding, or at the very least, it provides a starting point post-conflict. Truth and reconciliation is not a process limited to South Africa South Africa has no monopoly on the TRC process. The process has been accepted as a resolution process around the world. Furthermore, focus on only the South African TRC process is in fact an incomplete view of the various conflicts to which the process has been applied. It’s undeniable that our objective condition has more in common with the South African condition than most others, however, it’s important that our “think tanks” truly do an objective study of the TRC application process to be more precise as to its application to our struggle and situation.

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There have been several approaches to this process in recent history. For example the President of Chile in 1990 allowed for the creation of a national commission that was based on the principle of the TRC model. The process in Chile was politically fashioned to limit the inquiries into only those individuals who had disappeared. The Chilean president steadfastly resisted the disclosure of the names and ranks of the perpetrators who had committed human rights abuses. In Brazil, the TRC included no criminal charges against the military junta but it eventually provided the path for freedom for a woman guerilla that became president of the country. Certain applications of the TRC have granted blanket amnesty in all circumstances to the state forces, civilians, and combatants to ensure peace throughout the country. Yet, other applications of the TRC have prosecuted violators of human rights abuses, as well as those who took up arms and opposed the perpetrators of said abuses. Some commissions conducted investigations and applied amnesty on a case-by-case basis. Some of the findings of the commission were even revealed to the public and even more hearings were conducted in public forums. Some countries have even provided for the victims and the families of human rights abuses. The U.S. after years of contradictions and both implicit and explicit support of the apartheid regime in South Africa, after international pressure did engage with the international negotiations to end the racist regime in South Africa and institute a process to address the bitterness left from decades of internal conflict. If the United States accepted and encouraged the TRC as a process for internal conflict resolution in South Africa, then why shouldn’t the United States government also seek an application of the same type of process to address the years of Jim Crow segregation and the apartheid era here in America? As we push the demand for an American TRC process, It is important that our researchers not limit our method of the application of the specific process, and rather we should become innovators in creating a process in substitution that addresses our own reality. Truth and Reconciliation Commission The primary objective of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the US context would be to have a national and international body conduct an equitable and unbiased investigation into the infractions and violations of the U.S. Constitution and U.N. Universal Declaration of Human


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Rights perpetrated by official organs of the U.S. Government under COINTELPRO (in regards to what is often referred to as “low intensity warfare,”) and to take the imperative steps to formulate and conduct official hearings and investigations under the auspices of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC.) A model similar in structure but unique in content to the TRC established in the Post-Apartheid South Africa era which applied the modern international standards “explicit means” of resolving international conflict(s.) This American TRC would have seven goals on which to focus. 1. To develop a process to conduct official hearings and investigations under a commission with a twofold purpose: (A) To demand the establishment of the TRC under authority of the U.S. Congress, and (B) To garner the endorsement and active support of various NGOs along with the support of the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council Member Nations. To apply international pressure to try and persuade the U.S. Government to take an active role in a TRC established under the authority and supervision of The Office of the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights or an agreed alternative. 2. Establish an exploratory committee from amongst restorative justice practitioners. 3. Solicit the assistance from those South Africans who participated in the Truth and Reconciliation process that was conducted in their country, and the esteemed black and white advocates from North America’s struggle. 4. Request assistance from the South Africans who participated in the TRC process in their country to help develop a process and a step-by-step strategy for applying the TRC process to address crimes against humanity which were committed by the U.S. government against people of Africans in the United States. 5. To petition for amnesty and the unconditional release of all political prisoners and prisoners of war being held in the U.S. prison system as a consequence of their political activities engaged in as a direct response to the acts and policies of the U.S. government which the incarcerated viewed as crimes against humanity and peoples. 6. Appeal to and solicit the assistance at the local, national, and international levels of black/New African politicians, in addition to high profile media, artists, and others of influence. To present and explain the narrative(s), outlining the process demanding freedom for our

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political prisoners and prisoners of war, as well establish an accurate record of “our history” of resistance and sacrifices. 7. Organize a viable grass root public-awareness campaign in order to promote and explain the idea(s) for the need of a TRC which shall maintain and keep the focus of the issue at hand and others of importance at all times on the front burner. The grass root campaign should be that of a collective broad-base of networks, comprised of the various political prisoners and prisoners of war support committees, progressive experts, local, national, and international organizations and their affiliates. Building a parallel process With the US claim to being the “most free society in the world” the task of uncovering the ongoing oppression attacks on organizations and imprisonment of individuals who resisted that oppression during the civil rights and black liberation movement era is a difficult one. Even more difficult is the task of laying out the continuous cause of that oppression and the way in which it is perpetuated while at the same time creating an alternative dispute process that is empowered to grant conditional amnesty, in addition to being charged with the duty of uncovering the truth about certain historical events. In this respect our objective can adopt from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee (SATRC) model as to the infrastructure by developing two parallel objectives: (A) Human Rights Violation Committee: These would be hearings in which survivors tell their “narratives” and “experiences.” (B) Amnesty Committee: These would be hearings where the accused (both from the state and the movement) come forward in the hopes of being granted amnesty and prove that their deeds were both politically motivated and proportional. The controlling rule is that transparency will play a major role that will allow all parties to see the process and have their opportunity to bring forth their perspective and experiences. This process will allow for the feel of legitimacy while following the above (A&B) objectives. In this era of social media, there exists the ability to give a broad segment of the generations of the civil rights/black liberation era the capability to interact with and distinguish the U.S. TRC process


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from the 38 other TRCs held around the world. The SATRC were very vested in the public knowledge of their process and testimony. Although the weakness of the SATRC, after 17 years and about 90 books on the subject, is that the written report is still not available to the mass of South Africans, Azania. It has been the understanding that the documents only cost about $300 and the public record is controlled by the Justice Department and is still being withheld. This pitfall must not be allowed to happen in our process. On the contrary, we want an informed public debate to advance the discourse in both reports (A&B) and their application of transitional justice, a comparatively newer tradition of the twentieth century devices as a way to cope with the past and present internal conflict in the systematic violation of human rights. The time period a TRC should focus on A truth commission in the United States that would cover the events and activities between the years 1950 and 1995 spanning a 45 year period. The most important distinction between the SATRC and the U.S. government hearings is that there was no identifiable transition period that signaled the end of the era reflected by the above strategy disclosure in the South Africa hearings. The phase began in 1960 for the SATRC and terminated in 1995. There is no way that our desired targeted period could encompass the breadth of the human rights violations and crimes against humanity by the United States. It is important however that whatever period we cover encompasses the period of the Civil Rights and black liberation Movement period. Why? Because the survivors and participants of that generation who were activists (as well as the perpetrators of the state’s crimes) are available to provide the history as such to establish the patterns of the abuses and the rationale for their method of resistance that need be memorialized to saying nothing of the need to provide amnesty for the political prisoners and prisoners of war who still remain imprisoned after all these years. Our effort to put forward a TRC in America that will guide our development for a meaningful structure in order to accomplish our objective will have to be driven with the desire for that

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political process. The realization of a TRC for our specific purpose should not be solely an intellectual exercise and forum. Our above stated aim should be to stimulate information about specific events, public debates, and advance the discourse on restorative justice, transitional justice, and alternative dispute mechanisms that will help formulate national policy that should be sponsored by our elected representatives. While there will be a continual critiquing of the ultimate benefit of the SATRC model, many doubters will prudently alert our movement as to its pitfalls. It should be noted that even many of the SATRC commissioners stress the establishment of their TRC was particular to South Africa’s unique needs. There have been at least 16 TRC around the world prior to embarking on the SATRC model. The commission has admitted that their process was not as organized as the results might indicate as there was no precedent for their specific need. Our North American Truth and Reconciliation Commission will have 38 TRCs from around the world to draw from, however we too will be challenged in respect to expressing the inefficiencies of the courts and civil prosecutions in regards to addressing the disclosure of human rights violations. The task at hand is creating an atmosphere with a broad enough demand focusing on the civil right/black liberation era which indicates a centric demand while giving respect to both segments of the movement’s sacrifice for our people and abuse suffered by our people. This process should primarily be designed on a negotiated agreement. Our interest and preference is for a structure similar to the SATRC model because of the result of the amnesty committee that freed 849 freedom fighters. The freeing of political prisoners and prisoners of war of the black liberation movement indicates success. There are also unsolved disappearances of many blacks/non Africans carried out during the civil right era including hangings and terror that has yet to even be discussed. The process that opens the floodgates of the level of human rights violations as part of the testimony to human rights violations will go a long way in the healing process. As in South Africa, the exposing of the special squads’ such as the ‘Crowbar’ and ‘Third Force’ police counter insurgent units that operated during the 70s, 80s, and 90s will help set the example


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in how we sharpen the COINTELPRO disclosure, similar to the role the Goldstone Commission on Public Violence and Intimidation did. The bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia is prime for truth resolution and an answer for why all the children (sans Birdie Africa) had to die. As so many New Afrikans of the so-called greatest generation are about to make their transformation, our people owe them their true place in history. There is a new social, economic, and even political agenda in the so-called “black/New African Nations” progressive social struggle. The past social struggle is still relevant, but part of today’s progressive social political struggle should be the development of the TRC in order to truly define the political social progression from the past to the present progressive political social agenda which will help build a mass organization to accomplish our objective. We have waged various levels of political social struggles for progress that included self defense in a highly restrictive and racist environment, being surrounded daily by hostile forces while being outnumbered, being deficient materially, and engaged through low intensity warfare with our priorities being manipulated and disorganized. It is very possible that the North American Truth and Reconciliation Commission process will help define how to tactically and strategically overcome such odds in order to achieve for our future generations the concrete goals and objectives we desire. The general dependence of our movement on international instruments for recognition in a post-9/11 world is an exercise in wishful thinking. The Obama era did not see the U.N. and N.G.O. instruments operate constructively. The process of restorative justice and alternative dispute mechanisms are solutions that are an internally generated apparatus for internal conflict and post-conflict. This new language and structure are becoming part of a resolution tool and culture of the international human rights circle.

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There are standouts that will help to bring attention and give our North American Truth and Reconciliation Commission the observation and approval of those inside the international culture. We will have to become self-reliant and creative in building a social movement that will create the conditions we seek. An instructive example is Judge Goldstone, who during the South African-Pre Resolution, was a standout that set the precedent in exposing the abuse of power of the racist illegal South African government’s legal system. Goldstone’s report was the precursor to the implementation of the SATRC. It is important that the foundation of the North American Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s conceptualization of philosophy, theory, ideology, and policy drives the concrete objective, principle, values, strategy, and tactics. The perpetrator will do all to undermine the process. The broader the base demand for this process that will give both sides an incentive to participate in the process the closer we will be in accomplishing our goal and objective. This is the age of social media where the tragic dramas presented in testimony to a broad base of the American public will hopefully inform and expose the present generation and future generations to lessons this country need not repeat. “A revolutionary isn’t born out of something ‘good’” but of “wretchedness and bitterness.” Rigoberta Menchu noted. “Out of suffering comes the strongest of soul” Khalil Gibran once said, and with that, may I remind you that history will judge us by our struggle. Aim High and Go All Out, Stiff Resistance, Dr. Mutulu Shakur


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Photo Credit: Malcolm X in Rochester, New York, 1965. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archive

Photo Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

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BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY BAMN Staff: Makungu Akinyela Noel Didla Ifetayo Flannery Nyeusi Jami Edward Onaci kwame-osagyefo kalimara Alan Takeall Gus Wood

Contributors: Ikemba Agulu Sanyika Bryant Darasia Selby Mutulu Shakur

Designed by: The Center for Ideas, Equity, and Transformative Change


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