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People’s Power tour aims to unite struggles

Published Mar 21, 2012 9:53 PM

The People’s Power tour was launched in New York on March 11. The tour seeks to bring working, poor and oppressed people into a nationwide discussion to help develop a unifying fightback program of action. Its literature points to the life-and-death social issues that are intensified by the current global capitalist economic crisis, such as “unemployment, low wages, foreclosures, police and ICE terror, racist incarcerations, hunger and homelessness.”

Cynthia McKinney at
New York meeting.
WW photo: John Catalinotto

Armed with this orientation, the tour moved on from New York to well-attended meetings in Philadelphia on March 12, Baltimore on March 13 and Los Angeles on March 18. All the strategy meetings featured former Georgia congressperson and anti-war leader Cynthia McKinney and tour representative Larry Hales, an organizer against budget cuts in New York.

In New York at Judson Memorial Church, a standing-room-only crowd heard a panel of diverse speakers. Hales chaired the meeting. Berna Ellorin from BAYAN-USA emphasized the need to integrate all the local struggles with an anti-imperialist perspective.

Victor Toro, a long-time Chilean activist facing deportation, spoke on building working-class unity with a major focus on the plight of 12 million undocumented workers forced to come to the U.S. He called for legalization of all immigrants. In motivating for May Day 2012, Toro stated, “The conflict with Wall Street is the cause of all the ills in our society and around the world.”

Longshore militant
Clarence Thomas at
Los Angeles rally
WW photo: Gloria Verdieu

Jen Waller, an Occupy Wall Street organizer, described OWS as: “A movement of people who feel they have nothing to lose. They have abandoned family, friends, relationships to devote themselves to the movement. The main message is to call out the 1%.”

Cynthia McKinney said, “We need a transfer of state power from those who oppress us to ‘we the people.’ We will demonstrate the people’s will.”

Retired postal worker Eleanor Bailey recalled the 1970 postal strike and spoke about the current struggle to save the jobs of 200,000 postal workers and 3,000 post offices. (Google “workers world eleanor bailey” for a summary of her remarks.)

Larry Holmes of Bail Out the People and Occupy 4 Jobs told the audience, “The capitalists can’t provide a system of people before profits. We have to begin to demand power — locally, nationally, globally. It trumps capitalism.”

The panel was followed by an open mic session and then breakout groups where a people’s program was discussed.

In Philadelphia, Berta Joubert-Ceci of the Philadelphia chapter of the International Action Center, chaired the meeting.

Pam Africa, from International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, noted that even when the odds don’t seem to be in our favor, people determined to fight back can win our demands, citing Mumia Abu-Jamal’s recent release from death row and solitary confinement as an example.

Margarita Padin, a Puerto Rican construction worker and leader of the fight for inclusion of women, Black and Latino/a workers in several major construction projects at Temple University, gave an account of their struggle to get jobs for people from the neighborhood that surrounds the north Philadelphia campus.

Mexicana activist Ana Martina reported on efforts to stop Pennsylvania’s anti-immigrant legislation, including a May 7 “May Day” rally in Harrisburg, the state capital. Jamila Wilson spoke on the upcoming April 24 Occupy for Mumia event at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

Young activists from Occupy Philly, along with seasoned activists primarily from oppressed communities, were in attendance. Listen to the meeting at www.deepgreenphilly.com/?p=681.

In Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, IAC leader John Parker introduced the speakers. Clarence Thomas, of International Longshore & Warehouse Local 10, described the victorious port shutdowns in association with Occupy Oakland and the need to build better cooperation between the rank and file from the union movement and the communities they work in.

Kuusela Hilo of BAYAN-USA spoke about the national liberation struggle in the Philippines against U.S. imperialism and the link to Filipino immigrants in the U.S. Ron Gochez of Union del Barrio told of winning local concessions regarding the unjust confiscation at checkpoints of cars operated by undocumented people. KB Solomon, a cultural artist, sang a stirring rendition of “Ol’ Man River.” Larry Hales explained the necessity of a national coordination against U.S. capitalism and its deadly attacks on workers felt around the world.

John Catalinotto, John Parker and Betsey Piette contributed to this article.