•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

Barron on ‘Like It Is’

Supports Mumia, discusses plans of Freedom Party

Published Nov 11, 2010 8:58 PM

Charles Barron, the Freedom Party’s 2010 candidate for New York governor, appeared on Gil Nobel’s “Like It Is” television program on Nov. 7. The show was devoted to the fight to save Mumia Abu-Jamal from reimposition of the death penalty. “We are going to fight for Mumia’s freedom and stop the execution,” Barron said.

Charles Barron speaking about the
injustice of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case
at a rally on 125 St. in Harlem,
May 2009.
WW photo: Lal Roohk

Barron appeared with Pulitzer-Prize-winning Newsday reporter Les Payne and Milton Allimadi, publisher of the Black Star News and author of “The Hearts of Darkness, How White Writers Created the Racist Image of Africa.”

Payne, an ex-president of the Association of Black Journalists, said he is “convinced [Mumia] did not get a fair trial.” He compared Abu-Jamal’s conviction to that of Black Panther Party Chairman Huey Newton, whose conviction was overturned on appeal. Allimadi pointed out the Fraternal Order of Police’s opposition to a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

‘A new, established party!’

On the Nov. 2 election, in which the Freedom Party won 20,717 votes, Barron said: “Now we have a new, established party. We’re a self-determining people and we’re not waiting for our oppressors to decide when we can be established.” (New York State requires 50,000 votes for a party’s official ballot status.) The party’s official launching convention will be in February.

Many Freedom Party poll watchers say they were kicked out of polling places while votes were counted. Many voters couldn’t find the Freedom Party on the ballot, which was made to share a line with another party. The party’s candidates were hidden at the bottom of the ballot, in smaller type than other candidates’ names.

Disabled voters complained that poll workers “taking dictation” from voters and filling out the ballot failed to confirm with the voter. Voters said that poll workers told people to vote one single line. Others were disenfranchised for incarceration or a criminal record, or the Board of Elections’ failure to have updated residents’ address changes or notice of loss of homes. Some voted Democratic due to loyalty to President Barack Obama or fear of a GOP victory.

Overall voter turnout was low. Early reports placed it at 40 percent of voters. Many were turned off by Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo’s attacks on unions and pledges to cut millions of dollars from the public services budget and lay off thousands of workers.

In Barron’s borough of Brooklyn, the official Freedom Party vote count raises questions. Of Brooklyn’s 2.5 million people, at least 54 percent are African-American or Latino/a. His home base of East New York, which he represents on the New York City Council, has 90,000 residents. His support there has been solid. Brooklyn has the largest African-American population in the U.S., of about 1 million. Latinos/as make up another 350,000 people.

African Americans and Latinos/as constitute more than half of Queens’ 2.3 million residents. Barron had strong support in Jamaica, Queens. In Manhattan, Barron had strong support in Harlem, considered the capital of Black America, where 120,000 people live. Forty-five percent of Manhattan’s 1.6 million residents are Black or Latino/a.

While Manhattan is one of the richest counties in the U.S., Harlem ranks with the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens for very high unemployment rates.

Two Bronx areas had substantial voter turnout: Co-op City and Highbridge. Co-op City’s population is 55,000, of whom 55 percent are Black and 25 percent Latino/a. Barron and the Freedom Party took a successful walking tour through Co-op City’s shopping areas two weeks before Election Day, and found that support was high. A recount there would be interesting.

Highbridge, whose population is 35,000, is one of the poorest communities in the United States; half the people live below the poverty line. Most residents are African-American or Latino/a. Barron’s visit to a Highbridge Houses’ community center on election night caused a stir. The Residents’ Association president was the host and Freedom Party supporters attended from the community. They had gathered thousands of signatures for the party before the election. Leaders won’t allow their community’s votes to be nullified by miscount or fraud, after many instances of disenfranchisement.

Freedom Party support was high throughout the South Bronx, home to about one-third of the 1.4 million Bronx residents. While the Freedom Party had few funds compared to the $25 million for Cuomo’s campaign, its canvassers and residents won serious support from residents in all neighborhoods.

The Freedom Party can anticipate an outpouring of concern and outrage from its supporters in all of these neighborhoods, which have a proud history of defending their rights and fighting against a longtime pattern of marginalization, disenfranchisement and abuse.