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Defend Viola Plummer and self-determination

Published Jun 13, 2007 10:20 PM

If there is a progressive person out there who still believes the myth that New York City is a bastion of liberal politics, please rethink that. Consider two extremely reactionary editorials: one in the June 9 New York Post and the other in the June 12 New York Daily News. Both editorials viciously attacked Viola Plummer, a Black revolutionary leader of the Brooklyn-based December 12th Movement.

The recent spark that led to these editorials is D12’s leading role—along with New York City Councilperson and former Black Panther Charles Barron—in trying to get an avenue in the Brooklyn community of Bedford-Stuyvesant renamed “Sonny Carson Avenue.” The late Sonny Carson was a well-known Black nationalist community activist who advocated self-determination. (Read www.workers.org/2007/us/sonny-carson-0617/)

When the majority of white City Council members, lead by the Council Speaker Christine Quinn, was instrumental in voting down the proposal on May 30 for the Carson street renaming, Plummer, Barron and other Black activists justifiably labeled this action as racist.

Excerpts from a June 9 media release by D12 in defense of Plummer read, “The Bedford Stuyvesant community’s proposal to rename Gates Avenue to Sonny Abubadika Carson Avenue sparked a heated confrontation in the chambers of City Hall, where the issue of community self-determination was subjected to Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s negative prerogative. Subsequently, veteran political activist and chief of staff for Councilman Charles Barron, Viola Plummer was overheard by reporters advocating the ‘assassination of the political career’ of Quinn minion Leroy Comrie, for abstaining from the Council vote along with six other Black and Latino Council members.

“The next day Comrie joked with Plummer about the incident. However several days later, a ‘suddenly irate’ Comrie spoke out calling for Plummer’s firing. Barron and Plummer view this as a calculated diversion from Quinn’s racist political assault on community self-determination and her role in dictating leadership to Blacks.”

“Diversion” is crucial in describing the real motives of these racist editorials. Not only do these editorials have the audacity to call for Quinn to remove Plummer from her position as Barron’s chief of staff, but they attack Plummer’s contributions to the struggle—including defending the right to sovereignty from Harlem to Zimbabwe. These editorials have a strong divide-and-conquer element.

Let’s be very clear. The Black community in New York, similar to other oppressed peoples, is being overwhelmed in disproportionate numbers by rampant police brutality, gentrification, unemployment, inadequate education, imprisonment and much more. Plummer and Barron are two important leaders of the legitimate aspirations of the Black community; the New York Post and New York Daily News editorial boards—bosses’ mouthpieces—certainly are not. Workers World Party stands in solidarity with these leaders and for the right of Brooklyn’s Black community to rename a street for Sonny Carson. To build anti-racist unity and class solidarity, others in the progressive movement of all nationalities are urged to do the same, in words and in deeds.