Brink’s Trial Opening Statement
By Kuwasi Balagoon
July 11, 1983
My name is Kuwasi Balagoon. The name is of Yoruba origin. Yoruba is a name of a tribe in western Africa in what was called the Slave Coast, and now called Nigeria. Many if not the bulk of slaves brought to the Western Hemisphere were Yoruba, and throughout slavery and U.S. colonialism the religion, customs and even part of the language were maintained in the United States and throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America. When the people of Nigeria threw the British out, they sent representatives to Oriente Province in Cuba to relearn their culture and the Yoruba religion which was kept intact throughout slavery, Spanish and American Colonialism. I was renamed by my peers in the Yoruba temple and was married in a Yoruba ceremony like thousands of people before and since.
The english translation of Kuwasi is “born on Sunday,” and the translation of Balagoon is “Warlord,” and as it suits me to have a name that reflects what i am about and my origins, i accept that name. Donald Weems, the name that the prosecutor likes to use, is an alien european name. Donald is a Christian name name—and i am not a Christian; and Weems is a Scottish name, and i am not Scottish. It’s a name that some slaver decided to brand what he considered his property with and it is the name the state likes to use to propagate a colonial relationship. The English translation of Weems is “cave dweller.” i reject all that it means.
i am a prisoner of war and i reject the crap about me being a defendant, and i do not recognize the legitimacy of this court. The term defendant applies to someone involved in a criminal matter, in an internal search for guilt or innocence. It is clear that I’ve been a part of the Black Liberation Movement all of my adult life and have been involved in a war against the American Imperialist, in order to free New Afrikan people from its yoke. i am not treated like a criminal, am never in the company of prisoners with non-political charges. Never have i had a bail or parole once captured, and out of 10 years in County Jails and prisons, 7 years were spent in isolation, administrative segregation, management control, Incorrigible Units or some separate, punitive arrangement or prison within a prison.
Before becoming a clandestine revolutionary i was a tenant organizer and was arrested for menacing a 270 pound colonial building superintendent with a machete, who physically stopped the delivery of oil to a building i didn’t live in, but had helped to organize. Being an organizer for the Community Council on Housing i took part in not only organizing rent strikes, but pressed slumlords to make repairs and maintain heat and hot water, killed rats, represented tenants in court, stopped illegal evictions, faced off City Marshals, helped turn rents into repair resources and collective ownership by tenants and demonstrated whenever the needs of tenants were at stake. In 1967 the U.S. Congress killed the rat bill which would have provided funding for killing rats. At that time it was estimated that there were at least 1 rat for every person in N.Y.C. So we decided to demonstrate at the U.S. House of Representatives. Once we got there we decided that instead of walking around with signs in the sun waiting for reporters, we would just go in and tell those creeps how we felt. Once we began to practice our First Amendment rights and refused to leave, Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill instructed the Capital Police to “Get those niggers out of here,” at which time the Boy and Girl Scouts and other spectators were ushered out and we and the Capital Police had a free-for-all, in the halls of Congress, down the front steps and all over the lawn. Five of us, including myself and my sister, were arrested for disorderly conduct, which my F.B.I. files advise me was lodged because of resulting publicity that court proceedings might have entailed. The U.S. Congress response to us was to have plexiglas installed between them and the Gallery where people affected by their actions and inactions would have to sit.
Although i was naive, i didn’t think so, having been honorably discharged from the U.S. Army and seeing countless New Afrikan and Mexican G.l.s dishonorably discharged after serving 34 months of a 36-month enlistment. Being stigmatized for life and denied employment and the right to vote for what white G.I.s were reprimanded for. Being told by a Company Commander that he was told he would have to pay graft before our combat test scores would be correctly calculated. i thought i knew the U.S. government.
We found it unacceptable that the same government who drafted New Afikans and demanded that we fight the Vietnamese who had forced the French to surrender at Dien Bien Phu and leave Indochina, and who had mauled the 1st Calvary Division in hand-to-hand combat in the jungles as well as Hamburger Hill at least 4 times, could not allocate a little money for killing rats, who were attacking countless infants and children, causing nervous disorders as well as poisoning, and traumatizing, mauling mothers nursing their infants. Members of Congress laughed straight out when the bill was brought before it and promptly voted it down.
There were people in the Community Council on Housing who worked at other jobs during the day and organized and conducted meetings at night until all matters were decided and business conducted; there were people who got up early in the morning to go with tenants to “tenants and landlords” court to argue out specific injustices, with pictures, inspection data and building and apartment histories, and then walked all over West Harlem to organize meetings because we couldn’t afford our fare back and forth across town. We would stop illegal evictions at the door with court orders, arranged repairs, got heat and hot water for tenants and outright threatened and stood off City Marshals who received hundreds of dollars for each eviction. i had gone to apartments and waited with my carbine, a few times.
Then i began to realize that with all this effort, we couldn’t put a dent in the problem. There’s thousands of buildings with wiring eaten away by rats, holes in the floors, ceilings that had crashed on people, bathtubs that had fallen through the floors. There were always electrical fires; in the winter, 90% of the people i ran into heated their apartments with their ovens. i could confront building superintendents every day and a job and a free apartment would draw a replacement just as rotten. These conditions didn’t come about through accident or people in high places not being aware. It was not even a question of the government not caring. The City of New York is the greatest slumlord, and the other slumlords get tax breaks and make super-profits on buildings that have been paid for hundreds of times over. i began to know that these inhuman conditions were not only perpetrated in Harlem, Brownsville, El Barrio and the South Bronx where we had organized and aided other organizers. These conditions were and are perpetrated in New Afrikan reservations in Washington, D.C., in Miami’s Overtown, the Hill District of Pittsburgh, the Central Ward of Newark, N. Philadelphia, the S. Side of Chicago and all over the confines of the U.S.
We say that the U.S. has no right to confine New Afrikan people to red-lined reservations and that we have a right to live on our own terms in a common land area and to govern ourselves, free of occupation forces such as the police, national guard or G.I.s who have invaded our colonies from time to time. We have a right to control our own economy, print our own money, trade with other nations and enter a work force where we are not excluded by design and where our wages and the wages of all workers can be manipulated by a ruling class that controls the wealth. We have a right to build our own educational institutions and systems where our children will not be indoctrinated by aliens to suffer the destructive designs of the U.S. government.
When i say we New Afrikan people are colonized, i mean that our lives socially, economically and politically, with the exception of our war of liberation, are controlled by other people, by Imperialist euro-americans. Imperialist euro-americans tell us where to live and under what conditions, euro-american invaders, colonizers, decide what laws we should obey and what jobs we will get. It’s no mystery why such a proportion of G.I.s, hospital workers, domestic workers, farm workers, or athletes are New Afrikans or why we are 10% of the population within the confines of the U.S. and 50% of the prison population. We suffer 50% unemployment. Likewise, there is no mystery why the Black Liberation Army (B.L.A.) was formed well over a decade ago and, despite captures and many instances of tortures and executions on the part of the U.S. government, has managed to continue to struggle and fill a lot of cops full of holes and continue to enjoy our people’s support, in spite of raids and threats by the U.S. government and outright political and military blunders on our part. Despite claims that our backs have been broken or that we were out of existence, we of the B.L.A. have continued to fight. Repression breeds resistance. There is no mystery how the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation—F.A.L.N.) continues, or how the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) continues in Ireland or the African National Congress continues to oppose America’s 51st State: South Africa. Or why, despite helicopters and bloodthirsty advisers, the guerillas in El Salvador continue to struggle and advance or why the Palestine Liberation Organization, despite the massive invasion of Lebanon, Israeli and American backed massacres and internal conflicts, struggle on. We have legitimate support from peoples who have been victimized and have a right to self-determination. We are human and nobody wants to live under or bring offspring into a confined atmosphere with an artificial sky.
That is what it is all about. The state knows that of the 90 so-called felonies I’ve been indicted on against the mythical peace and dignity of New York and New Jersey, all of them have been political and military in nature even in cases where the charges have been dropped. The only time that i’ve been charged with offenses against working class people who were not agents of the state was during a shootout with police where i commandeered a car and while aiding an escape, when a man mistaken for a guard didn’t follow instructions. It’s been clear since i was forced underground while in the Panther Party that i have been a partisan on behalf of the liberation of Black people and in the ranks of Black resistance. The Secret Service wasn’t issued a memo to detain, question, or at the very least monitor me in the event that i was in the same area to which the president of the United States, any president of the United States, might be because i might steal his watch, or because i ever voiced a threat; and the F.B.I. hasn’t put me in its National Index of Agitators to be arrested by them at any time on no charge because of molesting women or children, or selling drugs or victimizing working class people in any way. i am on the Nation Index of Agitators because i am a friend of liberty, an enemy of the state and a fighter in the ranks of the liberation army of New Afrikan people.
District Attorney Gribetz, Judge Ritter and the state’s propaganda arm, the establishment media, have sought to obviate this by calling me a defendant, as well as my comrade Sekou Odinga, as if we were American citizens negotiating an internal domestic legal system. We reject this, as well as the insistence of calling us, as well as Assata Shakur, Abdul Majid, and other P.O.W.s by slave names. We know that it is not just a case of racist arrogance or legality and note that Zayd Malik Shakur changed his name through the courts years before he was killed by State Troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike, and was still called by the state and the media by his slave name. This is to propagate a colonial relationship.
i am tired of going through towns and cities, divided into sections where the houses are bigger and more fit for habitation in one section than the other, and the police protect one section and harass and terrorize the other, the one section enjoying better living conditions always white and the section mostly non-white. i am tired of living in a land where the highest rank a Black man or woman can attain is a token appointment and then hearing that crap that we are all Americans! i am tired of living the life of a colonial subject while the hypocritical oppressors and exploiters of my people make pompous declarations about our democracy. America is racist, and by no twists and turns of semantics, by no evasions whatever, can a racist nation claim to be a democracy.
The media that carried stories about David Gilbert having a map of Orange County Jail while at Rockland County although no incident report was filed and the Warden denied any knowledge of a map, first said to be a drawing, then a photo, ever being found. But besides justifying an incredible amount of security, this story was used as a motion to obtain a secret jury in a related federal RICO trial. This court could not grant a motion to investigate this through a hearing and a hearing to find out what traitor Samuel Brown told state authorities. In another instance the Rockland Journal reported that Julio Rosado was a F.A.L.N. member, who visited Judy Clark and David Gilbert at Rockland, when it is clear that Rosado is a public spokesperson of the Movimiento de Liberacion Nacional (M.L.N.) and that the F.A.L.N. is a clandestine revolutionary organization of fighters. A real investigative reporter would have checked and found out readily that no visit occurred, especially since the day it was reported to have happened, a Monday, is a day that freedom fighters don’t receive visits.
The media role in this case is to help the state build fascism and is no more “neutral and detached” from the state than the judge. The ruling that the jury be anonymous is a political ruling, and we don’t really care how it affects these individuals, because the reality it communicates to everyone who knows of it that the state and supposedly “neutral” judge have reasons to believe that we are of danger to people outside the state’s repressive apparatus, when it is clear that in no instance where a B.L.A. member was on trial has a juror been harmed, threatened, or tampered with in any way. We only engage the enemy in combat and we don’t consider working class people, outside of law enforcement, enemies. The state’s task is to make us appear to be everybody’s enemy—however, truth and history make it clear who is the real enemy of the people.
In Newsweek, they had the nerve to state, “Nearly one half of the 157 members of the United Nations hold political prisoners of one sort or another: those of conscience, jailed for their beliefs or those whose convictions have driven them to directly challenge their governments. Some even accuse the United States of having its own, though American tradition of democracy and due process make the charge seem more metaphysical than real.” What crap! In the U.S. political prisoners are called, among other things, Grand Jury Resisters. They are brought before a grand jury and ordered to talk, and when they don’t they are arrested and locked up for refusing to talk. Sometimes a judge orders them to answer a D.A.’s question and then, if they refuse to talk, they are tried with the aid of twelve people siding with the pigs under the guise of doing their civic duty and holding the fascist fabric of the state in place, and can be convicted of contempt of court and can be sentenced to an undetermined sentence. Aisha Buckner, Jerry Gaines, Fulani Sunni-Ali, Shaheem Jabbar, Richard Delaney, Yaasmyn Fula, Asha Thornton have been jailed for 18 months or more; Julio Rosado, Andres Rosado, Ricardo Romero, Maria Cueto and Steven Guerra have actually been sentenced—not for murder, not for arson or shoplifting or any alleged crimes—but for not submitting to an evil, alien, imperialistic power… the U.S. government. There have been at least 75 people jailed this way since 1970… if these people were locked up in the Soviet Union, Poland, Grenada or Cuba, they would be called “political prisoners.” If they were in Zimbabwe or Libya, Kirkpatrick and Shultz would call them prisoners of conscience. Lech Walesa didn’t do half the time that Jerry Gaines, Shaheem Jabbar,Yaasmyn Fula or Asha Thornton has, and they are still in, because America is a hypocritical empire. The [U.S.] propaganda machine moans each time Walesa is stopped by the [Polish] police, and when he admits to meeting with members of the underground, and then racistly and hypocritically ignores these people [Grand Jury Resisters].
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a colony as a “group of emigrants settled in a distant land but subject to a parent country; 2. A territory thus settled; 3. Any region politically controlled by another country.” But just as the hypocritical U.S.A. claims that it has no political prisoners, it claims that it has no colonies. Let’s look at the word “genocide,” same source. “1. The systematic annihilation of a racial, political or cultural group.” The U.N. Convention on Genocide defines it as: A. Killing members of a group; B. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of a group; C. Deliberately inflicting on the members of the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; D. imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; E. forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The American Bar Association objected to the Genocide Convention and the U.S. signing it, through its special committee on Peace and Laws, because “Endless confusion in the dual system of the United States would be inevitable with the same crime being murder in state law and genocide in the federal and international fields. Race riots and lynching being both local crime and genocide depending on the extent of participation.”
Leader H. Perez, D.A. of Louisiana, stated, “All forms of homicide and personal injury cases would be brought under the broad mantle of genocide, and the mechanics of the thing would simply be that the United States Attorney would walk into state district court and move to transfer the case to federal courts. But what is still worse than the destruction of our constitutional set up and our framework of government in America is the overhanging threat that citizens of our states someday will have to face the international tribunal, where now they must face the state courts and a jury of their peers.” This constitutional set up has resulted in a white person never having been legally executed for the murder of a Black person, in the history of the United States. This is not by chance, this has been contrived, the genocide and hypocrisy have been elevated into civic virtue in the U.S. empire while death rows across the U.S. are packed with Black prisoners. The U.S. signed the Genocide Convention with its government leaders knowing full well that they would not abide by it, just as it stated in the U.S. Constitution, Art. 6, para. 4: “This constitution and the laws of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby.” They wrote these things out, real official, just as they wrote the Declaration of Independence which said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving from their just powers from consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute new government laying laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness.” These are noble words for slavers and rapists, and they go on to say “but when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same object evinces and designs to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security.”
They said this while kidnapping African people in mass from another continent 3,000 miles away. Between 75,000,000 and 110,000,000 Africans were kidnapped, with less than 10,000,000 surviving the Middle Passage, to reach these shores. By the end of slavery there were only 4,000,000 of us. Having endured every conceivable atrocity, including the forced separation and sale of family members, rape, murder, the raping and selling of children who were themselves the offspring of rape. Olmsted reported, “In the states of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri as much attention was paid to the breeding and growth of negros, as to that of horses and mules.”
J.E. Cairnes, the English economist, computed from reliable data that Virginia bred and exported no less than 100,000 slaves, which at $500 a piece (per head) yielded $50,000,000. George Washington sold a slave to the West Indies for a hogshead of “best rum” and molasses and sweetmeats, and said it was because “this fellow is both a rogue and a runaway.” Thomas Jefferson sold slaves on the open market. To refer to Washington, Jefferson and the rest of those hypocrites as “the father of our country” is outright provocation.
Slavery was defended thusly: it was said, except for slavery, “The poor would occupy the position of society that the slaves do as the poor in the North and in Europe do, for there must be a menial class in society and every civilized country on the globe, beside the confederate states, the poor are the inferiors and menials of the rich. Slavery was a greater blessing to the non-slave holding poor than to the owners of slaves because it gave the poor a start in society that would take them generations to work out, they should thank god for it and fight and die for it as they would their own liberty and dearest birthright of freedom.” This is the real justification for colonialism today. Chattel slavery was an institution built on racism, that built the U.S.A., which for all practical purposes meant that the owner of a slave had complete control over the slave and also that any white person could order about any Black person. The slave patrols and militias were the predecessors of the fugitive squad, red squad and joint Terrorist Task Forces of today. The economy not only of the agrarian autocracy but of the whole south, through marshals, militias, breeders, auctioneers, overseers, slave drivers and patrols looking for fugitives, was based on slavery and there was much slavery in the North also Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, etc.
The Civil War that ended chattel slavery was carried out by the North not for that purpose, but to stop the separation of the U.S. and to ensure industrial domination over agriculture. “The Negro became in the first year contraband of war that is, property belonging to the enemy and valuable to the invader. And in addition to that, became as the South quickly saw, the key to the Southern resistance. Either these 4 million laborers remained quietly at work to raise food for the fighters, or the fighters starved. Simultaneously, when the dream of the North for manpower produced riots, the only additional troops that the North could depend on were 200,000 Negroes, for without them, as Lincoln said, the North could not have won the war.” (W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction.
As the North began to secure victory over the rebellious states, the U.S. government with the Union Army and volunteer organizations established the Freedman’s Bureau, which in conjunction with the treasury and newly freed slaves, lands throughout the confederacy were confiscated, and put into the hands of New Afrikans who quickly proved they could support themselves even in the wake of war as well as assist many people who had no land or provisions. Schools and universities were established and many New Afrikans attempted to become citizens of the United States. On February 5, 1866, Senator Charles Sumner addressed the Senate, and among other things said, “Our Fathers futures and their sacred labor… and now the moment has come when the vows must be fulfilled to the letter. In securing the equal rights of the freedman and his participation in the government which he is taxed to support, we shall perform our early promise of the fathers, and at the same time the supplementary promises only recently made to freedmen as the condition of alliance and aid against the rebellion. A failure to perform these promises is political and moral bankruptcy.”The moment he spoke of has long passed, the promises have not been kept and the reason for this is inherent in the very nature of the U.S. empire. This was understood by 19 out of 20 Black leaders of a delegation that met with Gen. Sherman. When asked if they preferred to be part of the U.S. or live separately, 19 said, “live by ourselves.”
In short order the U.S. government took back the bulk of the land confiscated from the Confederacy and handed it over to the New Afrikans who had been working on it. The Freedman’s Bureau was dissolved and President Grant urged removal of all political disabilities of former Confederates in December, 1871. A bill was passed in the House to serve that purpose and was tied by Sumner to a Civil Rights Bill in the Senate, when it finally passed Congress in 1872, however, the civil rights feather was omitted.
Black federal troops were disbanded and removed from the South, at which point the militia searched Black dwellings for arms and took them away. The U.S. government, now consolidated, went back to playing the same role in regards to New Afrikan people as before the war—that of users. Carl Schurz, who was an advisor to President Johnson, observed: “The emancipation of the slaves is submitted to only insofar as chattel slavery in the old form could not be kept up. But although the freedman is no longer considered property of the individual master, he is considered the slave of society, and all independent state legislation will share the tendency to make him such. The ordinances abolishing slavery passed by the conventions under pressure of circumstance will not be looked upon as barring the establishment of a new form of servitude.”
New Afrikan people could see this and Henry Adams, testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Petitions on behalf of a petition by New Afrikans in Louisiana and Mississippi (2 of the highest states in concentrations of New Afrikans) in 1874 said, “Well, in that Petition, we appealed there if nothing could be done to stop the turmoil and strife, and give us our rights in the South, we appealed then at that time for a territory that could set a part for us to live in peace and quiet.” That’s not asking for very much; however, the U.S. government rejected that petition. As it does now. The 14th amendment reads, “All persons born and naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privilege or immunity of citizens of the United Sates nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Certainly it can’t be argued that New Afrikan people have ever received equal protection under the law, and besides being another official pompous lie, the 14th amendment “wrongfully and illegally precluded New Afrikans from exercising their options fully. New Afrikans were forced to accept the label of U.S. citizenship and they had not been asked whether or not they wanted such citizenship or such a label. In 1856, 400,000 Afrikans had not been born in the U.S. These people could not be deemed to have been made citizens by an interpretation of the 14th amendment.”
With a substantial portion of the New Afrikan people in the country legally unaffected by the 14th amendment and petitioners from 2 of the most populous states in regards to Black people noting that they were not receiving equal protection of the laws and asking for “territory set apart for us,” what could have possibly been the motives of the Government of the United States of America outside of deceit, war and colonization?
Between 1868 and 1871 there were 371 cases of violence, including 35 murders of Blacks in Alabama. Six churches and many school houses were burned before the election of 1870.
General Davis of the Freedman’s Bureau reported 260 attacks, whippings and murders of freedmen between January and November of 1868 in Georgia.
In 1868 when Gov. Holden of North Carolina devised a plan to redistribute land and give ex-slaves a means to become self-sufficient, the Congressional Investigating Committee reported 260 outrages, including 7 murders and whippings of 72 whites and 141 Negroes.
A committee of the Constitutional Convention of 1868 on Partial Returns said that 1,035 men had been murdered in Texas (a part of Mexico that was invaded for the purpose of exploiting slavery) since the close of the war, and the federal attorney said the number might have been 2,000.
Two thousand people were killed, wounded, or otherwise injured in Louisiana within a few weeks prior to the presidential election in November 1868. “Frightful conditions prevailed up the Red River around Shreveport in Caddo and Bossier Parishes, a trading center for Texas, Arkansas and the Indian nations. A United States army officer on duty in this place saw 2 or 3 men shot down in the streets in front of the store in which he sat. He picked up the bodies of 8 men who had been killed in 1 night. Never had he heard of anyone being punished for murder in that county.”
One hundred and twenty corpses were found in the woods or were taken out of the Red River after a “Negro hunt” in Bossier Parish.
“534 Negroes have been lynched by mobs in Mississippi between 1882 and 1950; 491 in Georgia; 352 in Texas; 335 in Louisiana; 299 in Alabama; 256 in Florida; 226 in Arkansas and 204 in Tennessee. Virtually no one has ever been punished for such a crime, because the courts and police collaborate with it.” 3,436 known Negroes between 1882 and 1950 have been lynched, thousands of us have been murdered without it even being recorded, throughout the U.S.A. This is a war against New Afrikan people for the purpose of colonization and genocide. i could delay these proceedings indefinitely reciting instances of “legal” murders such as countless rape frame-ups and executions, and instances where New Afrikans have been murdered, raped, assaulted, burnt out or otherwise victimized, without any attempt to bring guilty persons to justice and for no other reason than National Oppression. However, the objective of the imperialist war must be brought to light.
United States imperialism, which drains resources and profits from all parts of the world under its domination, has its original base of this exploitation, and still largest source of super-exploitation, New Afrikan labor and talents, and this has been no less true with the shifting of the New Afrikan population.
Thus, in 1947 the median wage or salary of white wage earners was $1,980 of the non-white wage earners $86.3, or 43.6% as much, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 1949, according to the United States Census Bureau reports, while 16,800,000 Americans in 4,700,000 families had an income of less than $1,000 a year, the income of white families was 2 times greater than that of New Afrikans.
Using the 1947 figure, this difference of more than $1,100 in normal earnings gives a measure of the amount of extra income, of super-profits which employers derive from the average New Afrikan worker over and above the normal profits derived from the average white worker. Whites in 1939 who had a college education averaged $2,046 annually while New Afrikans with the same education had a median wage of $1,047. About the same disparity, so much for education.
Taken altogether, an appropriate answer may be gained by regarding as extra profits the $1,100 difference between the median Negro wage and the median white wage and multiplying the difference by the number of New Afrikan productive workers in agriculture and industry. Of the 6,000,000 New Afrikan gainful workers in 1947, approximately 3,500,000 were engaged in productive labor in farms or in industry, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce labor report. This number multiplied by $1,100 gives a total super-profit of almost $4,000,000,000. More recent figures show a similar result for 1948 and 1949.
On top of this, the jobs with the highest percentage of New Afrikans include those of the least desired, due to working conditions, low pay and risk of accident and disease, such as logging, saw mills, fertilizer plants, hospital workers, nursing home workers, U.S. armed forces enlistees (especially infantry, airborne and armor) domestics, foundry workers and farm and migrant laborers.
As of 1950, a single block in Harlem had a population of 3,871 people. At a comparable rate of concentration, concluded Architectural Forum, “The entire United States could be housed in half of New York City.” Yet, due to red-lining being burnt out of places not permitted to us by a racist population and a working conspiracy between banks, savings and loans associations, insurance companies, real estate corporations, police and fire departments and other racist organizations, such as the original Southern Klans, Inc., Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Florida, Inc., National Small Businessmen’s Association, American Independent Keystone Society, Knights of the Kavaliers, Free Mite Americans, Inc., The Christian American, Inc., Order of American Patriots, Northern Klans, Inc. and other organizations who have state charters, corporate sanctions, tax exemption, and the right to establish subordinate lodges throughout the United States and its territories, we remain for the most part cooped up on Black reservations with rents 10% to 50% higher than comparable dwellings elsewhere.
That various states bestow these benefits of incorporation and tax exemption on these paramilitary racists is undeniable evidence of government conspiracy; that the Bureau of Internal Revenue, who harass ordinary working people, investigates who various presidents direct them to, and actually wreck homes, dig up yards and confiscate small businesses, farms and homes for non-payment of relatively small sums to further this conspiracy by extending federal tax exemptions on the basis that these organizations are “non-profit, benevolent, fraternal and educational” is outright war, hypocrisy and deceit second only to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Defense Department that invades the Dominican Republic and other republics under any pretense and destabilizes popularly elected governments and commits real massacres in Chile, Indonesia and Puerto Rico and supports and aids the Israeli government in its massacres of Palestinian people and the theft of their homeland—just as the euro-americans stole this land—and supports the invaders and nazis of South Africa who not only exist on stolen land but exploit African labor and commit massacres and other atrocities like their racist imperialistic euro-american tutors.
In this period, call a recession and marked by inflated prices and high unemployment, we are still in the same position as regards to being economic cannon fodder in these United States. As of July 17, 1983 as reported in that edition of the New York Times, the Center for the Study of Social Policy reports that the average Black college graduate’s income is about the same as the average white high school graduate’s income. Only 55% of Black men over the age of 16 are employed today. Unemployment of Black men over the age of 21 is almost 50%; 21 years ago, 3 out of every 4 Black men were employed. In 1981, the median income for Blacks was $13,266, while the median income for whites was $23,517. In other words, the Black median income is only 56% of white. 54% of Black families are now at income levels below $15,000 a year, compared with 28% of white families.
As always, old age and survivors insurance and unemployment compensation systems do not cover agricultural, domestic, service and self-employed persons. 65% of all Black workers fall into these categories, compared with 40% of white workers.
The Presidential Advisory Committee on Civil Disorders lists as the first level of grievance police practices, unemployment and underemployment and inadequate housing.
Police in N.Y.C. have been involved in 49 racially motivated murders since 1979, and police throughout the country have murdered 400 Third World people during the year.
• New York: December 22-24, 1980—3 Black males and 1 Hispanic male were fatally stabbed. Witnesses to at least 2 of the stabbings have described the assailant as a white male.
• New York: October 8-9, 1980—Buffallo, Cheektowanga, Niagara Falls. 3 Black males and a Black teenager were shot and killed by sniper attacks or in shooting incidents. Witnesses have described the assailant as a white man.
• New York: August 8, 1979—Yonkers. The home of a Black family was firebombed. City official describe the attack as racially motivated.
• Ohio: November 1, 1980—Youngstown. A Black teenager was shot and killed by a rifle fired from a pickup truck. Press accounts indicate a group of white youths in a pickup truck had been driving around shooting randomly at Black citizens.
• Oklahoma City: October 21, 1979—A Black male and a white female companion were shot and killed by a sniper attack. Police said the assailant was a white male.
• Johnstown, PA—A Black male and a white female companion were shot and killed by a sniper attack.
• Chattanooga, TN: October 24, 1980—A Black teenager was shot and wounded by two white males.
• Chattanooga, TN: April 19, 1980—4 Black women were shot and wounded by a shotgun fired from a car. A Ku Klux Klansman was convicted and 2 other Klansmen were acquitted.
• Salt Lake City: August 20, 1980—2 Black youths were shot and killed by a sniper attack as they were jogging with 2 white female companions.
• Bennington, UT: October 27, 1980—1 of 3 [assailants] was sentenced to between 3 months and 1 year in jail for his role in the abduction and stabbing of a Black teenager.
• Contra Costa County, CA: November-December 1980—A series of attacks against Black families by white vandals occurred, including an attempted assault and shooting incident.
• Chico, CA: January 13, 1980—A deaf Black male was shot and killed by 2 white males and 1 white female. According to press reports, the assailants murdered their victim because they could not find any animals to shoot on their hunting trip.
• Manchester, CT: October 2, 1980—The home of a Black family was firebombed.
• Ft. Wayne IN: May 29, 1980—Vernon Jordan, President of the National Urban League was shot and critically wounded by a sniper attack.
• Indianapolis, IN: January 1, 1980—A Black male was shot and killed by a sniper attack.
• Indianapolis, IN: mid-January, 1980—A Black male was shot and killed by a sniper attack.
• Greensboro, NC: November 3, 1980—Demonstrations protesting the Ku Klux Klan clashed with Klansmen and Nazis. 5 of the demonstrators including 3 white males were, 1 Black female, and 1 Hispanic male were shot and killed. 6 Klansmen and Nazis were later tried on state charges of murder and rioting. An all-white jury acquitted all of the defendants.
There have been recent lynchings of New Afrikans in rural Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama, and since Wayne Williams has been in custody, there have been 25 more killings of New Afrikans in Atlanta. In April, 1982, 3 young retarded Black men were found hanged and castrated in Atlanta. In the Greensboro, NC killings of the anti-Klan demonstrators, F.B.I. “informant” Ed Dawson rode in the lead car of a 10 car Klan and Nazi convoy; Agent Bernard Butkovich participated in the planning. The armed military assault by the Klan and Nazis against the demonstrators who were unarmed, was shown on national television, the acquittals were announced. What was this, if it wasn’t a case of propaganda by the deed? What did this communicate to the murderers of Willie Turks in Brooklyn? What did the 5 year sentence of Bova communicate? What did the acquittal of Paul Mormando, after he admitted to taking part in the beating that led to Turks’ death by actually pulling a man who was trying to run from a fight, out of his car? Well, the answer to that was duly reported in the next day’s paper: a gang of white armed male attacked a Black teenager in Queens, with at least 1 knife and 1 baseball bat, with no arrests made.
But that’s only part of what is communicated. Not only are these actions announced over and over that in the United States, Black life is cheap and that any white racist armed with a weapon or a crowd of other racists, that aren’t hard to find, can attack and even kill Blacks with little or no consequence, but that the American legal system has no problems finding jurors able to overlook words, pictures, or whatever they have, to accept a racist tradition.
At Camp Fuller, on the Texas Gulf Coast, C.I.A.-trained mercenaries, national guardsmen, and army reserve personnel train Klan men and women. At Dekker Lake, a marine recruit is in charge of training klansmen. There’s klan training camps in Connecticut, New York, California, Alabama, and Georgia as well, and not only is there no effort to stop them from being armed—this government of the United States supplies them. There’s no shortage of police, jailers, or U.S. G.l.s in the klan, and there’s no shortage of federal agents. In North Carolina alone, 41 chapters were maintained by the F.B.I. You tell me the difference between the Germans in World War II and the euro-americans, except that euro-americans have killed more people within its confines than the followers of Hitler who were inspired by euro-americans to commit their slaughter and have been and are very often harbored and protected since by the U.S. government. Where and when in the history of this earth have there been a bunch of murderers, liars and hypocrites than the U.S.A. and yet the war machine hasn’t satisfied the state. 24% of Black women have been sterilized by the state; Black infant mortality rate is 23.1 [per thousand] while white infant mortality rate is 12 [per thousand]. Black life expectancy is 9 years less.
The U.S., with the aid of Turkish and other U.N. forces, were set back in Korea and thus lost a market to exploit, they wanted a puppet government over the whole of Korea and had to settle for half. They make “fashion jeans” over there for wages people over here wouldn’t work for, and i am certain you’ve heard some of the stories by G.I.s returning from South Korea after the so-called police action. The U.S. lost markets in Southeast Asia. This undeclared war was not an adventure gone astray or an attempt to aid the people of South Vietnam by propping up a fascist puppet, who had a difficult time leaving after his defeat because of the weight of the gold on his plane. The Vietnam episode was a classic imperialist war, from the rubber on its plantations once under French rule, oil on its offshore—which Standard Oil had surveyed and begun negotiations for with both the U.S. backed government and the democratic Republic of Vietnam—and the poppy fields that provided most of the heroin during that war, for the chemical warfare against and enslavement of much of the black and other Third World youth within the U.S. colonies and provided extra funds for the Central Intelligence Agency.
The U.S. imperialists have lost Somoza’s grip on Nicaragua and the U.S. puppets in El Salvador and Guatemala stand on shaky ground. Imperialism must expand or die; the recession is due to lack of expansion and new supplies of raw materials, in an economy whose growth is in video games for diversion, computers for taking people out of work and storing information against them, “security” to guard the rich and intimidate the poor, and pornography and provocative violence against women and children, is the cause of this crisis.
In 1968 the Republic of New Afrika petitioned the U.S. in pursuit of secession; the Nation of Islam under the leadership of Elijah Muhammed had demanded land for a Black Nation since 1940. In the 1930s, Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association organized 5,000,000 people of African decent in an effort to return to Africa. The U.S. government charged this man, who bought a ship line and land in Africa and mobilized 5,000,000 people into industrious self-sufficiency and 1 purpose and 1 aim, with mail fraud and deported him to the hands of the British who kept him in jail until his death (after confiscation of the ship line and rubber plantation in Liberia and selling them to Firestone, B.F. Goodrich, etc.). The Nation of Islam was dubbed by the press as “Black Muslims” to the point where few people, comparably, knew their real title. They were persecuted and special oppressive conditions and denial of their rights to religion occurred, when members were imprisoned, often on framed-up charges, and yet they were accused of teaching hate. At least part of this was because their program called for land and for the building of a Nation of and for Black people. 21 Black Panthers were indicted on 36 criminal conspiracy charges in 1969; 12 of us who were captured were held in isolation in County Jails because we had established housing, medical and food programs, and had in our political program a call for a vote conducted by the U.N. to ascertain the number of Black people in the U.S. who want to live in a separate nation of Black people. After over 2 years, a jury acquitted all brought before them after 90 minutes of deliberation. But for 2 years, 21 people who were key organizers had to sit in jail or go underground. Some are still underground as flight to avoid persecution is a “criminal” charge.
The Republic of New Afrika presented the U.S. State Department with a petition for land for the New Afrikan nation and have been hounded by the federal and state police ever since. The federal and state police attacked New Bethel Baptist Church while a public meeting was in progress, attended by 142 men women and children in Detroit. The New Afrikan Provisional Government was having a meeting and although they were surrounded and surprised, the participants, including Mtayari Shabaka Sundiata and Mutulu Shakur, gave a good account of themselves and the police got one of their own killed and another wounded for their efforts. This was a clear case of self-defense and no New Afrikans were imprisoned with this shoot out used as a justification and of course none of the federal or state police who had fired over 400 shots into the church were charged with anything.
On August 18, 1971 in Jackson Mississippi, the Mississippi State Police and the F.B.I. attacked the headquarters of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika and got a few holes in their hides for their efforts. In fact, the head of the Jackson Police Intelligence Squad, Louis Skinner was killed and 2 other euro-americans in that lily white death squad were wounded.
80 years before that, Thomas Fortune and the National Afro-American League championed the cause of a separate nation for New Afrikan People. A hundred years before, New Afrikan people in Mississippi and Louisiana petitioned Congress for a separate territory. The first permanent inhabitants after the Native Americans in what is now the United States were slaves that rebelled against Spanish enslavers and colonizers and joined the Native Americans in what is now South Carolina, in the year 1526.
So understand this demand is not a fad, that this struggle for land and independence is a legitimate aspiration that has been within the national will of the New Afrikan people since we first stepped on these shores. We are a colonized people, who have a common language, culture and history of oppression.
If the United States was a democracy it would set a date for a U.N. plebiscite, hold elections with no interference, and abide by the outcome. If the United States had been forthright in its dealings with us it would be doubtful if 30 millions of people would decide to move and begin anew rather than choose what they know and have experienced, but you know and the American government knows it has not been anything but hideous.
This “criminal” trial will not settle the question, there will be a war until justice is served. Some New Afrikans feel that once America sees that it comes out cheaper to leave us alone we will achieve independence. i feel that independence will come after total revolution, when the government no longer exists or simply hasn’t the power to extend its authority over us. That there is something in the psychology of Americans that permits the continuation of the Marines in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, even though it is clear that neither the Cuban government nor the Cuban people want them there.
i don’t know how many generations of migrant workers will pick through the same groves year after year, or how many children will grow hungry or worse, cynical, packed up in subhuman dwellings. i don’t know how long people will speak of officers like O’Grady and Brown as if they were saints, and accept photos of warriors like Mtayari laying dead under the caption “Death to Terrorists” in papers like the Daily News.
How can people talk of survivors, the wives and children of cops, and their grief as if revolutionaries come from Mars and don’t have families, when our families and loved ones are harassed and attacked? Sundiata’s wife was literally driven insane, and police went to the mental hospital to obtain a statement nevertheless. The answer must be the same as why Americans can say right off the bat that 57,000 “Americans” died in the Vietnam War without caring as to how many Southeast Asians were killed. This kind of disregard comes with the territory of being a freedom fighter in a racist, imperialist, fascist empire, but it comes, for the most part, with being Black.
Throughout slavery there were numerous rebellions and conspiracies to rebel, and laws were enacted against it, defining rebellion as criminal. Nat Turner, Cinque, Denmark Vesey and Gabriel Prosser led revolts and conspiracies, there were over 250 slave revolts during these 300 years of slavery, and countless cases of arson and poisonings. Just as there were slaves and jerks like Crispus Attucks who fought with the Americans against the British, there were ex-slaves who fought with the British and after the British gave up, these ex-slaves became Maroons and continued to fight. Evidence of at least 50 such communities (of Maroons) in various places and at various times, from 1672 to 1864, has been found. Today from the backlands of New Jersey through Appalachia, southward into Texas and even across the Mexican border, the descendants of many of these Maroons who choose to cast their lots with the Native Americans can still be found, largely forgotten and often desperately poor. New Afrikans fought alongside the Seminoles, against the Americans, 1,500 white soldiers and $20,000,000.
U.S. history doesn’t record our loss of life. In September, 1850, 300 Florida Maroons took flight from their abode in present Oklahoma to Mexico. This was accomplished after driving off Creek nationals sent to expose their exodus. In October 30, 1851, 1,500 former American Slaves were aiding the Comanche Indians of Mexico in their fighting.
In The Conclusion of the President’s Commission on Civil Disorders, Dr. Kenneth B. Clark commented, “I read the report of the 1919 riot in Chicago, and it is as if I were reading the report of the investigating committee on the Harlem riot of 1935, the report of the investigating committee on the Harlem riot of ‘43, the report of the McCone Commission on the Watts riot. I must again in candor say to you members of this Commission—it is a kind of Alice in Wonderland—with the same picture re-shown over and over again, the same analysis, the same recommendations and the same inaction.”
Black people have attempted to be recognized as human beings in this country despite its history of murder, through nonviolent marches, sit-ins, etc., appealing to America’s moral conscience and only got more oppression for this. They couldn’t speak the right language; tell me the difference in the fates of Martin Luther King, El Hajj Malik Shabazz and Mark Essex?
Expropriation is an act of war carried out by every revolutionary army in history. The have-nots must take from the haves to support their war. Washington, even though he had slaves and was aided by the French, crossed the Delaware to raid the British. Stalin was expropriating from banks at the age of 15. Carlos Marighella expropriated from the North American Imperialist banks in Brazil, as the Tupamaros did likewise in Uruguay. During the Spanish resistance to fascism, the banks were necessarily targets of Nosotros and los pistoleros and other guerillas. Anyone not funded by an outside power must engage in acts of expropriation or collect “revolutionary compulsory tax” to carry on revolution. No member of the B.L.A. has ever opened fire during an expropriation unless forced by a fool. Actually we’d prefer not to fire a shot, because the purpose of an expropriation is to get funds and not to execute guards or police, as a retaliating action might be for, but also because shots are signals. The ideal expropriation is carried out without anyone outside of the action being any the wiser. When the B.L.A. has assassinated police officers on purpose and by design we’ve issued communiqués explaining why, and leaving no questions.
My comrade Sekou Odinga has been rejected from this case and indicted in a federal case charged with Racketeering justified by the same incidents that leaves me charged with murder and robbery, so that the New Afrikan position can be hopefully put out of focus by the state, by having 1 New Afrikan defending against the same criminal charges as 2 white anti-imperialists. i am defending the revolution, the state’s arrangements are of no consequence. It does not matter what the legal outcome will be. Our fates are not in the hands of the state, but in the hands of the masses of New Afrikan people. In revolution, 1 either wins or dies. This case awaits a bigger jury.
In regards to the death of the money courier and the 2 police officers, i am insulted that it’s thought of as such a horrendous act, by the media and a population that doesn’t conclude that 25 murders of New Afrikan children in Atlanta since the incarceration of Wayne Williams or the drowning of a crowded boat of Haitians under the eyes of the United States Coast Guard, a big deal.
But that’s the system. Like Public Law 831-81 Congress., Title 11, Sections 102, 103, 104, otherwise known as the McCarran Act, which authorizes Concentration (Detention) Camps should the president declare an Internal Security Emergency. Security is the word. The U.S. Army has 350 record centers containing substantial information on civilian political activists. The pentagon has 25,000,000 cards on individuals and 760,000 on organizations held by the defense Central Index of Investigations alone, and this information includes political, sociological and psychological profiles of 25,000,000 people in the U.S.
There are special prisons in the U.S. Army Reserves 300th Military Police P.O.W. Command at Kivonia, Michigan. Other “emergency detention centers” are at Allenwood, PA; Mill Point, West Virginia; Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama; Avon Park, Florida; and Elmendorf at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. The Air Force has one of the largest police departments in the so-called free world.
The introduction to the King Alfred Plan, a plan to be utilized by the U.S. Defense and Justice Departments in the event of rebellion, reads: “Even before 1954, when the Supreme Court of the United States of America declared unconstitutional separate educational and recreational facilities, racial unrest and discord has become very nearly a part of the American way of life. But that way of life was repugnant to most Americans. Since 1954, however, that unrest and discord have broken into widespread violence which increasingly has placed the peace and stability of this nation in dire jeopardy. This violence has resulted in loss of life and limb and property, and has cost the taxpayers of this country billions of dollars. And the end is not in sight. This same violence has raised the tremendously grave question as to whether the 2 races can ever live in peace with each other.”
The U.S. doesn’t intend to make fundamental changes, it intends to bully New Afrikans forever and maintain this colonial relationship based on coercion, or worse, a “final solution.” This means that some New Afrikan soldiers like myself must make our stand clear and encourage New Afrikan people to prepare to defend themselves from genocide by the American nazis— study our mistakes; build a political program based on land and independence; a counter intelligence program to ferret out traitors the likes of Tyrone Rison, Sam Brown and Peter Middleton and be ready to fight and fight and organize our people to resist on every level. My duty as a revolutionary in this matter is to tell the truth, disrespect this court and make it clear that the greatest consequence would be failing to step forward.
i have thrown my lot in with the revolution and only regret that due to personal shortcomings on my part, failure to accept collective responsibility, and bureaucratic, hierarchical tendencies within the B.L.A., i haven’t been able to contribute as much as i should or build a better defense against my capture due to denial of fuse. i am confident that my comrades still at large will correct their thinking and practice through criticism/self-criticism and begin to strike consistent blows at the U.S. Imperialist. i wish i could inspire more people, especially New Afrikan people, to take the road to liberation, and adequately express my contempt for the U.S. ruling class and its government. Other than that, i have nothing else to say.
Brink’s Trial Closing Statement
By Kuwasi Balagoon
September 13, 1983
For the record, i’ll say right now, that this place is an armed camp. It has the trappings and props of a court. A state-issued clone in a black robe, an ambitious state-issued clone of the state table, a fenced off area, and a section for spectators with a smaller section for members of the press, who can listen to an opening statement and between them, not one mentions anything i said about America being an Imperialist empire that among other things holds New Afrikan people in subjection or that the U.S. government while hypocritically speaking of human rights in places like Poland never mentions the political prisoners it holds and calls grand jury resisters. The state-issued prosecutor objects, the state-issued court sustains and the media that pats itself on the back and hypocritically calls itself free, erase whatever notes they might have taken automatically and take their places beside the state-issued court and prosecutor. Although i think the press is capable of following instructions the ruling that politics have nothing to do with this case is enough. A reporter Van Sickle describes the opening as a list of grievances. That New Afrikan people are subjected to living in reservations administered by an occupation force, calling itself police and being systematically beaten out of wages, liberties and our very lives is not news and that the media is just so many state-issued clones is not news either. Their job all along has been to present the state in a false light and instil fear in the population so that people will find fascism acceptable. And call it democracy. Under no stretch of the imagination, twist or turn summations or evaluations can a racist, imperialist country call itself a democracy, without its victims, its enemies calling it anything more than a hypocracy.
Taking up a couple of other rows in the court are the pistol-packing armor plated plain clothes cops paid to keep an eye on things. On the roofs and in the surrounding areas there’s more and a herd of hastily deputized armed clones in gas station attendant uniforms, as well as German shepherds and of course the usual guards. There’s a lot of iron in here, state-issued iron. And in the hallway leading to this theatre there’s more state-issued clones with state-issued iron and metal detectors to make sure that all the iron that enters these state domains, this imperialist theatre, is state-issued. They wish to have us believe or act as if we believe that war is peace – as the press apparently believes that ignorance is strength.
Other than that are the people who braved searches, having their pictures taken and filed away by the fascist to come here to actually be as they are designated supporters and spectators. And one group of people that stinks of the trappings of this court is designated a jury, among them wear sunglasses while in our midst – another has children who has Black friends whose homes they visit, but who never visits them at home and who has Black friends himself who never drop by. Another who thinks we are so ugly she turns and looks at the wall while we ride by in police cars. None of these people are racist or have any prejudice, and we know this because the court asked them, and they said they didn’t, all of them. None of the potential jurors were racist or infected by racial prejudice, and showed this to the satisfaction of a racist court.
Had i not taken the position that no court in the imperialist U.S. empire had the right to try me as a criminal, i would have demanded that this case be tried in Rockland County. One cannot hold both positions. However, i believe that the people of Rockland County and elsewhere deserve an explanation of the event, the expropriation and related actions that took place on October 20, 1981. Not a mere criminal defense in relation to it, that type of legal mumbo jumbo could have matters more confused than ever. An explanation on the other hand, by someone who might have given them directions on the subway in New York City, or sweated through a basketball game with them or shared a dance floor should make things clear factually as well as let people in Rockland who are not already our friends, and everyday people throughout the confines of the U.S. know for sure that it is not the people but the United States Government and its oppressive apparatus that we are at war against.
The media said that on two separate occasions, members of the Black Liberation Army jumped out of vehicles shooting randomly in incidents where one guard and two policemen were killed. On the face of it, it doesn’t appear random at all according to that line. Either the guerrillas and the people around not participating were lucky; the armed money courier and the two policemen were very unlucky; or the guerrillas were armed with guided bullets. Obviously none of this was so, but it was broadcast far and wide for a long time to taint not only people who might be jurors, but everybody in a land where a war is going on between oppressed peoples and the oppressors. It’s clear the guerrillas intended to shoot police and that’s who they shot. They shot the enemy.
Expropriation raids are a method used in every revolution by those who have got to get resources from the haves to carry on armed struggle. When George Washington and company crossed the Delaware it was to raid the British, to take money, supplies and arms, even though he was financed by the French and owned slaves. Joseph Stalin robbed banks when he was fifteen to support revolutionary struggle. The Sabate Brothers in Spain were obliged to empty the tills of banks to resist Franco during the Spanish Civil War. When Carlos Marighella in Brazil or the Tupamaros in Uruguay expropriated from banks to finance their struggles, it was clear to the press that they were revolutionaries; this government sent counterinsurgency specialists to help the juntas and dictators they resisted and expropriated from, just as they’ve done in regards to Argentina. But here in the U.S., the government doesn’t acknowledge the collection of revolutionary compulsory tax as the work of revolutionaries, just as the British do not acknowledge the I.R.A., just as Israel doesn’t acknowledge the P.L.O. and just as the Southern Africans do not acknowledge the A.N.C. It’s too close. The British called Washington a criminal and issued a reward for him dead or alive just as the Americans put a price on the head of Twyman Myers. The state must deny revolution and call revolutionary acts and revolutionaries something else, anything else — bandits, terrorists. The state must suppress revolution and say they are doing something else. Rather than argue that there’s no need for revolution and be confronted with Harlem, the South Bronx, Bedford Stuyvesant, Newark’s Central Ward, North Philadelphia etc. They say there is simply not a revolution, as if there is no reason for sweeping the oppressors from power. Revolution is always illegal and revolutionaries are always slandered.
There are clearly more than a few points that the state has pushed for reasons beyond that of legal, that clearly go past the objective of getting convictions. The first lie is that Peter Paige, the Brink’s guard and money courier, was gunned down without a chance to defend himself or surrender. In order to portray the Black Liberation Army as cowardly and cold-blooded, bloodthirsty.
The B.L.A. is an organization that takes credit for pre-planned assassinations. In our history there are numerous instances of ambushed police where credit was clearly taken, where communiqués were issued to the media who do not broadcast them completely if at all, because the government has directed them not to. These ambushes have always been retaliations for terrorist acts against Black people — these acts have always been responses to murders, brutalizations and threatening against Black people, Third World people or their forces of resistance. Never has a guard or a bank teller been shot down as part of a plan, no unit of the B.L.A. has ever done this, including the unit involved in the expropriation of October 20, 1981. Our war is not a license and the B.L.A. reserves assassinations for those who are combatants in opposition to the revolution and those who direct them. Money couriers are safe so long as they do not put their bodies and weapons in between someone else’s money or try to shoot their way out of a source of embarrassment or into a promotion or an early grave.
This is because the goal of an expropriation is to collect revolutionary compulsory tax and not casualties. A unit is no better off with a guard killed. Shots are signals that alert more police more quickly and directly than an onlooker’s phone call. Guerrillas prefer to take the weapons from the holsters of guards or pick them up after they’ve been dropped, and completing the action without anyone except guards and guerrillas being any the wiser. Had Peter Paige not acted the fool, he would’ve lived and his co-worker would not have been injured.
War is expensive, you know that, you don’t pay taxes once. And no matter how much money a unit may get from an expropriation, that unit as well as others will have to engage in other expropriations in the course of a protracted war. The B.L.A. doesn’t want a situation where guards believe they will be shot whether they comply or not, because then there would always be shoot-outs. Dead guards don’t bring us a step closer to land and independence and don’t add a cent to a war chest. At the same time, the B.L.A. doesn’t want guards to believe for an instant that they have any reasonable alternatives outside of compliance.
The only parties that benefit from a bloody shoot-out during an expropriation are the bankers, the bosses of the armored car corporations and career counter-insurgency experts. The first two put their money or what they label their money before the lives of guerrillas, as well as their employees; the third without New Afrikan, Puerto Rican or Mexican fugitives to justify raids in those colonies could find themselves in fatigues, in the wilds of the Dakotas, laying siege to Native American colonies. Paige died for his bosses, not for himself, his family or his fellow workers.
State clone Michael Koch issued another slanderous attack for the state. At one point in his testimony he says that one of the combatants says in regards to Kathy Boudin, “fuck her, leave her.” On one episode of “Today’s F.B.I.,” a band of “terrorists” takes a truck of 1.6 million dollars and purposely leave one of their comrades. On one episode of “Hill Street Blues,” a radical band gets 1.6 million dollars from another truck. In the F.B.I. fiction the radicals mow down the guards as a matter of course; in the “Hill Street Blues” fiction, the beautiful white girl when faced with life in prison serves up her comrades for a deal that sounded not unlike a slave auction, with time being the medium rather than money. Koch meanwhile hasn’t gotten a contract as a writer or an actor – i tell you, there is no justice in this world.
There’s no record of the B.L.A. leaving comrades in hostile areas on purpose. When comrades are wounded attempts are made to carry them. The state contends that Marilyn Buck was wounded and taken to Mt. Vernon with the unit in question. The state wants to have it both ways.
The B.L.A. doesn’t work that way. We have a saying, “the lowest circles in hell are reserved for those who desert their comrades.” The B.L.A. has a history of aiding the escapes of comrades from prisons and other detention centers. The state-issued lie that any of us said anything to the effect to leave anyone who had participated in any action with us is designed to portray us as users and racist. For the state to project that piece of propaganda at the same time that it lines the roofs with rifle-toting clowns, posts guards at each block and intersection and transports us in armed convoys without red lights is not only an insult to us, but an insult to anybody outside the state who hears it. Every day we come to court there are scores of fat middle-aged cops crouching behind trees, phone poles and cars, guns at the ready. This is not because they think we can break out of handcuffs, waist chains and leg chains and then dive out of closed car windows and sprint to the next county before anyone notices what is going on. They do this because the B.L.A. does not forfeit comrades in the hands of the enemy and does not forfeit those who struggle beside us into the hands of the enemy. There are enough instances of aided escapes, attempts at escapes and fierce battles to avoid capture to make it clear how we feel and how we deal.
They say that veteran police officers responding to an incident where one guard was mortally wounded were convinced to put a shotgun away by Boudin, but Waverly Brown didn’t have a shotgun. They say he was the first to go in any event, that O’Grady was loading his weapon when someone ran up to him shooting, but didn’t he have six shells in his weapon when he responded? And if he was reloading, doesn’t that mean he fired six times and for all practical purposes, missed. Lennon says he watched O’Grady get shot, but didn’t Lennon have a pistol that was loaded, as well as a shotgun? Why didn’t he shoot the man who ran up and shot O’Grady? Why was Keenan so far away from the action? And didn’t hit no one? Why is it that so many police officers converged on the scene so soon after the battle?
Once they got a couple of suspects who had surrendered, who were outnumbered, handcuffed, they got tough at the action, but i suggest that they lost heart! That the odds were too even, that Koch has been spinning his yarn to his co-workers for two years, took a circular approach to the roadblock, because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Do you believe that he [lost] an opportunity to shoot someone who had been shooting at other cops because some ladies’ scream broke his concentration? Or that another cop, John McCord, missed his opportunity to shoot Marilyn Buck because just as she drove up he dropped a shell, and by the time he reached down to pick it up she zoomed right past him? What was so important about that particular shell, outside of it being a catalyst for a fish story? Why would an experienced cop and bodyguard like O’Grady try to load every shell into his revolver when someone is running up to him to kill him? Why does the state insist that we swallow all of this?
How did those cars that had been spotted and noted get out of the area? Well, i’ll tell you why, it was because the cops who got paid so much a week wanted back-up in a big way. This was discernable war. One group of soldiers in opposition to another group of soldiers. One group of soldiers who ate and slept at the front and another who may not have witnessed colonialism contested so aggressively before. i don’t know. The state says there were six people coming out of the back of the truck, with pistols and an automatic rifle, and counting Koch there were five cops with revolvers and two shotguns. The insurgents left one pistol at the scene of the expropriation, one pistol and one shotgun at the scene of the roadblock. i don’t think there were any supermen or saints around that day battling it out on Route 59, or Mad Dog Killers or Cowboys, i think there were only men, mortals, one group called niggers and the other group called pigs. Lennon during his hypnotic session when he described a Black man running up to O’Grady shooting didn’t describe that Black man as a “terrorist” or “robber,” he called that man a nigger, “a big nigger.” He’d taken his mask off while in the car weathering the storm, and he had to push a dead nigger away from the door to get out of the car.
[District Attorney] Gribetz, the perfect representative of the United States, a pimple of a man, has tons of evidence that has been labelled, marked and stored for two years. He has two Browning 9mms, the doberman pinscher of pistols, no prints on them, no bullets from them in bodies, but it’s important. He has a shotgun or a picture of one also, and shell casings that can’t be placed on anyone, but it’s important too, because niggers are only supposed to have spears. He’s got expert witnesses giving expert testimony and opinions on prints and glass. Ms. Clark had five kinds of glass on her, two, in the “expert’s” opinion “consistent” with Brink’s brand glass and Honda glass, and three other kinds of glass. They mention two pistols and a shotgun of mine, that had a part missing, by the way, as if it’s evidence. When the fact is that i should have had a bomb or at least a grenade. He’s got a witness who remembers – when he asks “did you happen to see a white male with brown hair, a brown beard and a big nose.” He’s got lots of witnesses. He’s got clothes, pieces of bullets, pictures of bullets, pictures of cars, trucks and everything but our masks.
He has ski masks and he has his own public official mask, his civil servant mask. But he doesn’t have our’s, we’ve thrown them away. We are not going to act like wayward citizens in a democratic society before a just court with the duty of administering justice. We act like ourselves. New Afrikans and anti-imperialist freedom fighters, in an Imperialist empire that colonizes and commits genocide against New Afrikan, Native American, Puerto Rican and Mexicano people, before an impostor, in an armed camp.
In an effort to deny the issue of New Afrikan Independence that is part and parcel of the October 20, 1981 action, the state has presented its politics that we are to be confronted with. The politics of imperialism, based in their myth of justice in their colonial courts, whose function somehow should be participated in by its victims as if this whole scheme of things are in the interests of the oppressed. It’s legal to oppress and illegal to resist.
At the helm of this myth are the police, who are the government after six o’clock p.m., are of a species above that of mortals. Whose racism is less than the general society’s, whose competence and heroism is beyond us all and is the apex of all culture. When, in fact, police are at best only human and are tools of the state who are employed to maintain an unjust, exploitative, oppressive system that holds New Afrikan and other Third World peoples under subjection and in a colonial relationship.
When i was growing up, the bulk of programs on TV were westerns, where the heroes shot down endless rows of Native Americans, while calling them Indians, Redskins and what not. There were other westerns too, like “Gunsmoke.” Marshal Dillon shot fifty-two people a year and was the central character in Dodge City. i never remember seeing the mayor, preacher or schoolteacher, only Dillon and his friends – Doc, Chester and Miss Kitty – and i thought they were my friends too.
Now, Matt Dillon is Chief McCain, on the cop show “McCain’s Law,” and even Captain Kirk is a cop! Westerns have been replaced by cop shows. There are 29 hours of cop shows on TV each week. There are more cop shows on during prime time and all the other times on TV on any week than any other type of program. There is not a single program on TV other than comedies where a Black is the central character. We are portrayed as sidekicks of cops, snitches and sources of humor without exception.
This is all the interest of images. Pictures say a thousand words, they say what seems to be a fact over and over in ways that can’t be countered by reasonable argument, without investigating reality. White racism does not for the most part care what really goes on inside New Afrikan colonies, or even recognize that we do indeed live in colonies. But because white racism is politically and morally bankrupt, it is concerned about its image. That’s why people familiar with Newburgh, Harlem and Overtown can ignore the issue of colonialism even while Reagan speaks of free enterprise zones, bantustans! That is why the U.S. with jaw-shaking righteousness can say that it doesn’t have colonies, while planning to turn the beautiful island of Puerto Rico into an industrial park.
These people who judge us should take a city bus or a cab through the South Bronx, the Central Ward of Newark, North Philadelphia, the Northwest section of the District of Columbia or any Third World reservation, and see if they can note a robbery in progress. See if they recognize the murder of innocent people. This is the issue, the myth that the Imperialists should not be confronted and cannot be beaten is eroding fast and we stand here ready to do whatever to make the myth erode even faster, and to say for the record that not only will the Imperialist U.S. lose, but that it should lose.
i am not going to tell you that the Black Liberation Army’s ranks are made up of saints; it is clear that there have been impostors among us who have sold out and are worse than the enemies history has pitted us against. And i am not going to tell you that there’s no virtue among money couriers or policemen. However, i will tell you now and forever that New Afrikan People have a right to self-determination and that that is more important than the lives of Paige, Brown and O’Grady or Balagoon, Gilbert and Clark. And it’s gonna cost more lives and be worth every life it costs, because the destiny of over thirty million people and the coming generation’s rights to land and independence is priceless.
Kuwasi Balagoon : Letters from Prison
Kuwasi Balagoon, is a man who many anarchists, nationalists, and anti-imperialists may have heard of in passing, but about whom very little has been made broadly available. As you read on, this state of affairs may perplex or even anger you, for certainly what we have here are important and…
In “Black Liberation Army”
Anarchy Can’t Fight Alone
By Kuwasi Balagoon Of all ideologies, anarchy is the one that addresses liberty and equalitarian relations in a realistic and ultimate fashion. It is consistent with each individual having an opportunity to live a complete and total 1ife, With anarchy, the society as a whole not only maintains itself at…
Black Militancy : Notes from the Underground
A Brief History of the Black Liberation Army By Rashad Shabazz Bad Subjects Originally Published December, 2004 If one were to examine, closely, the hegemonic discourses of black American history, one would be surprised to find a long history of militant armed struggle. Slave rebellions, urban “guerilla” insurgencies, rural defense…
In “Black Liberation Army”