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White Student Unions and the New Face of White Nationalism

Revolution News -

In the last several days an orchestrated launch of “White Student Unions” has resulted in such groups popping up on Facebook, alleging to represent “safe spaces” for white students at different universities across the country. Though it seems these groups aren’t the creation of students at these universities and are more likely just racist Internet trolls, Read More

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Activists Shot By White Supremacists in Minneapolis at the #4thPrecinctShutDown

Revolution News -

Update 11/24, 1:50 AM: All 5 protestors who were shot are reportedly in stable condition: UPDATE: 5 protesters shot by white supremacists at #4thPrecinctShutDown tonight. All 5 are in stable condition. — Black Lives MPLS (@BlackLivesMpls) November 24, 2015 Activists released a video of protestors asking the white supremacists to leave just before the shooting. Read More

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Curbing corruption with civil resistance

Waging Nonviolence -

by Elena Volkava

Corruption is a widespread and global phenomenon, ranging from “narco-corruption” in Central America to “petty corruption” in Eastern Europe, such as candidates buying votes with buckwheat and sunflower oil before elections. Rather than focusing on the issue itself, Shaazka Beyerle explores how corruption is being curbed with civil resistance in her new book “Curtailing Corruption: People Power for Accountability and Justice.” Beyerle documents and analyzes civic grassroots initiatives that have expressed clear demands, reached their objectives, employed an array of nonviolent actions, and were sustained over a period of time. Twelve fascinating accounts are presented in the book with country-specific context, campaign attributes and outcomes.

Beyerle begins by conceptualizing the link between corruption and violence. One place that corruption flourishes is in post-conflict settings in which illicit structures profit through the arms trade, and the trafficking of drugs and people — causing much human suffering. For instance, since the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo began in 1998, 3.5 million lives have been lost, while military and rebel groups have enriched themselves off of the country’s resources. Beyerle explains that civil resistance by citizens who are impeded by the nexus of paramilitary groups and organized crime sometimes leads to successful campaigns.

Every case study in the book takes place over the last 20 years, and some are still ongoing. The geographical scope includes Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Korea, Turkey and Uganda. Beyerle argues that the collective power of citizens who strategically use nonviolent actions created political will where it did not exist before, and developed social accountability for improving government processes.

For instance, in Brazil in 2008, a coalition of 44 civic groups, including religious, professional and trade organizations, collected 1.6 million handwritten signatures to introduce legislation to Congress that would prevent individuals with a criminal record from running for elected office. This was followed by massive digital civil resistance, which included mass emails sent to legislators and an online petition in favor of the bill signed by two million people, among other nonviolent actions. Beyerle sites one of the campaigners, Graziela Tanaka, who said, “the movement took on an air of people power omnipresence, congressmen could not run away from it.”

Beyerle said she was inspired to pursue this multi-year project after she heard about the 1997 “One Minute of Darkness for Constant Light” campaign in Turkey at a conference, which she also included as a case study in the book. This civil resistance campaign mobilized 30 million people through low-risk mass actions — like turning off lights simultaneously (hence the name of the campaign), banging pots and pans, holding candlelit vigils, mailing “stolen” copies of the high court inquiries to legislators — and succeeded in empowering citizens to overcome their fear of confronting the criminal syndicate ruling the country at the time. Since the campaign happened before the Internet boom, Ersin Salman, a public relations professional — with a group of regular citizens from all walks of life — reached out and received support from about 60 print columnists who then spread information about the mobilization.

The goal of the movement was to pressure the government to take specific measures against corruption and links between the state and organized crime. In many ways the campaign succeeded, as mafia leaders, police, military and business officials were brought to trial. Although collaborators in the government were set free, citizens changed the profile of the parliament in the following election. Furthermore, a series of nonviolent campaigns followed on issues including university entrance exams, the privatization of water, and nuclear reactors, among others. The “One Minute of Darkness for Constant Light” altered the relationship between Turkish citizens and power holders. “Now even generals are answerable to the people,” Salman said.

The synergy between anti-corruption efforts and peacebuilding that Beyerle depicts is particularly interesting. Despite their differences, both have overlapping long-term goals — like social and economic justice, government accountability and the protection of human rights. Beyerle argues that in places like Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where those involved in organized crime reap the benefits of instability and easily win seats in parliament, a successful transition to democracy and stability is difficult to achieve, although it is nevertheless possible.

The various campaigns covered in the book do not follow one specific “magic formula” to root out corruption, but in each case organizers put significant energy into strategizing and planning. Furthermore, toward the end of the book, Beyerle offers 15 general lessons gleaned from the campaigns she documents. I found a few of these lessons particularly important, like unity, which involves building coalitions that increase diversity and lead to high levels of participation. Another point that she highlights is the importance of using low-risk mass actions, which help citizens to overcome fear in hostile environments. She argues that there are also intangible qualities that can be cultivated, such as an honest image, which builds credibility and stimulates wide support, and legitimacy, which prevents intimidation like she skillfully describes in her case studies of Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, India, Italy and Uganda.

The overall message of the book is one of hope. It is nonviolent, strategic and collective action that creates shifts in attitudes. Across a diverse set of the cases, Beyerle shows regular citizens moving “from resignation to action,” and succeeding in their struggles against corruption in the process.

Who pays the price of police spies’ betrayals? | Letters

The Guardian | Protest -

A woman who pretends to be a man and has sex with another woman is jailed for eight years (Report, 13 November). At least seven policemen pretend not to be policemen and have sex over a period of time with a number of women, in some cases having children as a result, and are not prosecuted, and in some cases are able to continue to do their jobs (Met apologises to women deceived by police spies, 21 November). It’s as hard to understand what will be gained from a prison sentence in the first case as it is to see how our police forces could have acted so irresponsibly in the second, leading to potentially devastating consequences for the victims, enormous cost for the force, but seemingly scant consequence either for the perpetrators or for those who must have known about it.
Antony Scott
Yatton, Somerset

• While a great deal of attention has, quite rightly, been paid to the appalling way in which women were used and betrayed by undercover police, nobody seems to care about the fact that these activists should never have been spied upon in the first place; environmental activism is legal.

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Protesters march one year after the police killing of Akai Gurley

Waging Nonviolence -

by Ashoka Jegroo

Akai Gurley’s family lead a march for justice on the anniversary of his death. (WNV/Ashoka Jegroo)

Hundreds of people gathered and marched in Brooklyn, New York on November 20 to commemorate one year since Akai Gurley was shot by a police officer while walking down a project stairwell.

“Today, we honored a man who was murdered by the NYPD one year ago,” said Asere Bello, one of the march’s organizers and a member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. “We just wanted to make sure we showed respect because now he’s one of our ancestors making sure that we’re doing what we need to do to build community.”

On November 20, 2014, Gurley, a 28-year-old father of one, decided to walk down a dimly-lit stairwell after getting his hair braided by his girlfriend in the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York, Brooklyn. As he and his girlfriend entered the stairwell on the seventh floor of 2724 Linden Boulevard, officers Peter Liang and Shaun Landau were about one flight above them. The two officers had been conducting a vertical patrol, where police actually enter New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, buildings to patrol the hallways and stairwells of each floor. Officer Liang already had his gun in his hand with his finger on the trigger. Officer Liang’s gun then allegedly “accidentally discharged” with the bullet then ricocheting off the wall and landing in Gurley’s chest. Gurley tried to flee, not realizing he was hit, before collapsing on the fifth floor.

A police source told the New York Daily News that Liang and his partner then tried to contact their union representative for six-and-a-half minutes instead of calling for help and were even unsure of the address of the building they were patrolling. The union representing New York Police Department officers, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, told Buzzfeed that these accusations were untrue and that none of their delegates in that area ever received a text from Liang. Gurley’s girlfriend ended up asking a neighbor to call 911 for help, and Gurley was declared dead at the hospital.

Multiple Black Lives Matter protests have since been held to demand that officer Liang be held accountable for his killing of Gurley. Protesters in New York City even walked all the way to the Pink Houses from Manhattan after the Millions March in December 2014 to pay homage to Gurley. Liang, unlike many cases of police killing black people, was indicted in February 2015 for his killing of Gurley and plead “not guilty” to the charges, which include second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and other lesser charges. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison. Officer Landau was offered immunity in exchange for testifying against Liang.

Between 100-200 people gathered on Friday right outside the building in which Gurley was killed. NYPD had a heavy presence at the protest with dozens of officers stationed all around the gathering spot. Protesters literally had to walk by multiple cops just to get to the front of the building where Gurley was shot. The relatives of other people killed by the NYPD spoke along with Gurley’s relatives, many of whom traveled hours from out of town to make it to the march.

“Akai’s mom and their family live in Jacksonville, Florida so they’re very isolated from what’s going on up here. It’s very hard for his mom to feel the support,” said Shayvon Ford, a family friend and organizer with the Justice For Akai Gurley Family Committee. “So today was actually the first time she could feel and see what type of support she has.”

Gurley’s mother, Sylvia Palmer, while visibly holding back tears, also spoke and expressed her gratitude at so many people coming to march for her son.

“Akai didn’t deserve to die the way he did,” she said. “He was a good man, a good son, a mama’s boy. He loved life and loved everyone. It touched my heart to see so many people out here supporting myself and my family in getting justice for Akai. I just want to say thank you. It really hurts standing here looking at my son’s picture knowing that he should have been here with me now getting ready for Thanksgiving.”

Speakers then addressed Liang’s trial and police brutality, as well as related issues such as racism, the horrible conditions of many NYCHA buildings, and the coming gentrification of East New York. After the speeches, the protesters marched around the neighborhood with Gurley’s family leading the way.

“We want a conviction,” Ford said. “And not only do we want a conviction, we want to see changes happen in East New York. We see the suffering that’s happening out here, the gentrification. We know that people out here need jobs, training. They need a better quality of life, and that is not going to come from being dependent on the government. But the government needs to do its part to get people self-sufficient.”

Protesters then ended back in front of the building where Gurley was killed, and speakers encouraged people to network and organize to keep their communities safe from police violence and to pack the court when the trial begins on January 7, 2016. Officer Liang recently hired a new lawyer who is also a former policeman, but Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has promised the Gurley family that he’d make sure Liang is held accountable for Akai’s death. Despite this, organizers emphasized that justice for Gurley means more than just a conviction for officer Liang.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about the trial. We’re not going to get justice in that courtroom,” Bello said. “The only place that we’re going to see justice is by the organizations that we build here, by building our copwatch programs, and sustaining a movement that builds spaces where we have economic freedom and where we’re teaching our kids the education they need to know.”

Amsterdam: House re-squatted by Sociale Huur Tugela action group

House Occupation News -

On Sunday 22 November a building on the Tugelaweg 18A has been re-squatted out of discontent with the current housing policy in Amsterdam. The policy that is being fought is not a recent one. The breaking down of social housing has been going on for years. The privatizing of social housing companies, which have to handle their own finances since the 90s, has created a situation in which affordable housing is considered unprofitable both by the social housing companies and politicians. Social housing companies, whose goal is housing people, are for this reason rejecting social housing instead. Local politics see this happening but do not act. Because of this the situation on the housing market is becoming unsustainable; rents rise and waiting lists become longer and longer. Exactly those people for whom social housing is intended are getting problems because of this.

The Tugela blocks are a primary example of this. Here, over 50% of social housing disappears. Two blocks have already been renovated, and have been replaced by free sector renting or they have been sold. The remaining blocks will partially return as social renting, however, because of raised prices the current inhabitants will be unable to return. We demand that the social housing in the remaining Tugela blocks is preserved without the mentioned raising of prices.

In the transvaal neighborhood there was already a campaign against the neoliberal housing policy. Through a round of speed evictions on friday the 13th of November, an attempt was made to smother this resistance in the cradle. The eviction, which took place after a month and a half, has no juridical basis and must be seen as a political action. With this the police shows itself, once again, her repressive character as the baton of the housing companies and the state.

However, we will not be stopped by state repression. The champagne against the neoliberal housing policy continues. We will not leave voluntarily, unless Ymere guarantees us and the residents of this neighborhood that the social renting in the remaining Tugela blocks will be maintained without a raising of prices.

A turn will come in the privatizing of the housing market, where inhabitants and renters will come first. Everyone has the right to affordable living space and right to city! In order to prevent the breaking down of social housing we will, if necessary, defend ourselves against the neoliberal policies of Ymere, the politics and the defender of the status quo; the police force.

An eye for an eye, a house for a house.
Stop the breaking down of social housing

Syrian Refugees Welcome, Say Supporters at White House Rally

Revolution News -

Washington DC – About a hundred people rallied at the White House on Saturday to denounce efforts by state governors and Congress to deny Syrian refugees sanctuary in the U.S. They held signs saying, “Refugees welcome here,” and invoked the inscription on the Statue of Liberty to express their support for allowing those from conflict-ridden Read More

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Rest In Power Michael Marshall – The Latest Victim of Denver Police Violence

Revolution News -

The Denver Sheriff Department has murdered again. Michael Marshall passed away as a result of injuries sustained at the hands of Denver sheriff deputies around 6:30pm on November 20, 2015, after over a week on life support. What does a community do in the absence of official channels to seek justice? What does a community Read More

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Cars of Hope Wuppertal: Working with mainstream media along the Balkan route

Revolution News -

On October 29 Cars of Hope Wuppertal started a convoy to support refugees on the Balkan route. Me and other independent media activsts were part of the convoy. Apart from our own media work we also worked a lot with mainstream media. Some thoughts about working with mainstream media on the Balkan route. Living in Read More

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Cutting through the helplessness of the refugee crisis

Waging Nonviolence -

by Frida Berrigan

View image |

Fences. Barbed wire. Plexiglass riot shields. Refugee camps. Unanswered questions. Terror. Roiling seas in flimsy boats. Waiting. Fear. Walking. Huddled in wet, cold fields with no shelter and no certainty about what tomorrow brings. This and so much more is the experience of refugees fleeing the violence and civil war of Syria in Europe.

And now there is a new misery: Investigators into the Paris attacks found a Syrian passport near the bodies of dead bombers and assert that one was a Syrian who entered Greece as a refugee. This piece of information means that all those seeking refuge are now suspect and subject to fear, hatred and another layer of vulnerability. There is already so much misery, and now this. The terrible actions of a few punishing all. The horrific violence that slayed cafe-goers, partiers and fans of rock music is the same violence that these countless men, women and children are fleeing.

Can they still have hope? Can they still find a destination, a future free of violence and political turmoil? Can they keep going? Winter is coming, fast and bitter.

I have watched this crisis ebb and flow across my daily newspaper, mostly just shaking my head and feeling disconnected and helpless. Like many others, the picture of tiny Aylan Kurdi, his lifeless form washed up on a Greek island, affected me deeply. The three-year-old Syrian boy — who along with his mother, father and siblings — fled the militias and fighting in their hometown of Kobane only to drown as rough seas overtook the crowded boat. Only the father survived. I opened the newspaper to that now unforgettable picture and burst into tears. It is a funny expression that is often incorrect — burst into tears. But that is what happened. An outburst of sorrow, anguish and even responsibility. What have I done for these refugees? What have I done to help Aylan’s family? Nothing.

We talked all through breakfast — my husband, our eight-year-old daughter Rosena and three-year-old son Seaus, who wears Velcro shoes, little red shirts and blue pants. He is fatter and taller than little Aylan, and loves playing on the beach at the edge of waters, like the Aegean Sea, that took that little boy’s life. We talked with our kids about the war in Syria, which has created more than 4 million refugees. We talked about how our country has accepted fewer than 1,500 so far (.04 percent of those who have fled their homes) and said that it would allow another 70,000 over the next year (if they could pass through the world’s most rigorous vetting process). We saw that they were still listening, still feeling, and so we pointed out that the United States has provided nearly $8 billion in military aid to Syria since 2011.

“We have space for a family,” Rosena said, her eyes taking in our large dining room and mentally rearranging the rooms upstairs. “They could have my room and I can be in Seamus’s top bunk.” This is how they want to be sleeping anyway, even though neither would sleep well if we greenlighted this plan. I was bowled over by her generosity. It cut through all the fear, scapegoating, othering, racism, politics, bureaucratic inertia and red tape that defines Washington and other world powers.

Rosena is not alone. In fact, the mayors of an impressive number of cities have made a similar call to President Barack Obama. Last month, mayors from around the country sent a letter to the White House that read, in part: We “urge you to increase still further the number of Syrian refugees the United States will accept for resettlement. The surge of humanity fleeing war and famine is the largest refugee crisis since World War II. The United States is in a position to lead a global narrative of inclusion and support. Our cities have been transformed by the skills and the spirit of those who come to us from around the world. The drive and enterprise of immigrants and refugees have helped build our economies, enliven our arts and culture, and enrich our neighborhoods.”

The letter is signed by the mayors of major metropolises like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Boston and my very own hometown of Baltimore, as well as smaller cities like Allentown, Pennsylvania and Central Falls, Rhode Island. It is worth reading in full and working with your own mayor and city council to get more cities to add their names to the list. It made me cry so hard because the letter represents some of the best of our country.

Three of my grandparents were immigrants to the United States. My mother’s parents were both born and raised in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Elizabeth O’Mullan was the eldest of four. Their father died when she was a teenager. She educated and trained as a secretary and a social worker, but as a Roman Catholic, she could not find work. Responsible for her younger siblings and mother, she decided to follow hundreds of thousands of her countrymen, who left Ireland because of religious persecution and lack of opportunity. She settled in New Jersey. William McAlister was the second youngest of 10 children on a poor farm — also in County Antrim. Most of his siblings were boys and there wasn’t enough work for them all, so he headed for the United States too. There was no terror or barbed wire in their stories. The indignities of Ellis Island, the fear of the unknown and separation from their homelands seemed small prices to pay for the promises of a brighter future. Friends told McAlister to look up the good-hearted, hardworking Elizabeth when he landed.

The rest was history. They lived in New Jersey all their lives. My grandfather started a contracting company and made a good living. They owned a home, raised seven kids, summered at the shore, sent money back to relatives in the North and were stalwart members of their local Catholic Church.

It is not hyperbole or hokum to say that they lived the American Dream. They escaped poverty, lack of opportunity and religious discrimination with almost nothing and they built a life, a living and a legacy in the United States.

It grieves and angers me that those opportunities are closed to Syrians, who have already suffered so much. What can we do to make President Obama and Congress listen to the wisdom of an eight-year-old girl and 18 mayors?

There is no doubt plenty we can do. Perhaps, for inspiration, we should look to what others around the world are doing to not just sit idle, but have some positive effect on this ever-unfolding tragedy. For example, we have friends from the War Resisters League who spend time each year in Turkey. This year, they sent out an email to friends and family saying that they were raising money for refugee efforts. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be connected to what was happening so far away. We had given through our church to refugee efforts, but this felt so much more direct and immediate.

Volunteers at Pikpa pack goods for refugees. (WNV/Tom Leonard)

They have just returned and here is some of what they shared: “Without exaggeration, this was one of the saddest and most rewarding experiences of our lives. Pikpa camp in Mytilini on the Greek island of Lesbos is the all-volunteer camp we went to. It was an unused summer camp for disabled children that four activists occupied three years ago. Their vision was to open a new kind of refugee camp with a focus on treating the residents with respect and providing conditions that enable them to live with dignity until they are ready to move on.” Our friends raised more than $8,000 and brought with them medicine, medical equipment and other critically needed items — simple things like baby carriers and diapers.

On their last day at Pikpa, our friends helped other volunteers amass winter clothes for the refugees. “This was a reminder of what the refugees face as they head further north into Europe,” they wrote. “Not just chilly weather, though, but a sometimes hostile reception. In the face of this reality, it is reassuring to know that it is not just on Lesbos, but from Athens to Norway, even in Hungary, there are many thousands of ordinary people making extraordinary efforts, stepping up and welcoming their fellow human beings in their time of need.”

I have read and reread these words, finding hope and sustenance in the efforts of ordinary people to help and save and take care of one another. It cuts through the helplessness I feel.

Police apologise to women who had relationships with undercover officers

The Guardian | Protest -

Met pays substantial compensation and acknowledges relationships were ‘an abuse of police power’

Related: Lisa Jones, girlfriend of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy: ‘I thought I knew him better than anyone’

Police chiefs have apologised unreservedly to seven women who were deceived into forming long-term relationships with undercover police officers, it has been announced.

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Showing solidarity with migrants is more than 'comfort' for white people | Amrita Malhi

The Guardian | Protest -

Tolerance isn’t the most ‘radical’ approach to racism. So why do many non-white Australians participate in movements that promote it as a solution?

Tony Abbott’s prime ministership sparked furious debate about Australia’s commitment to multiculturalism, including a push to wind back 18c, slights against Indigenous “lifestyle choices”, and questions about Australian Muslims’ loyalty to the nation.

As this period now fades into ancient history, Australia’s politicians have begun to re-invest in the multicultural narrative, a prescient move given the polarised debate after recent events in Paris. Earlier this month, the three major political parties made sure to send a high-level representative to address a conference organised by the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (Fecca).

Related: 'Real Australians' are a myth and 'saying welcome' to refugees is not enough | Alana Lentin and Omar Bensaidi

Related: Social cohesion binds Australia stronger than ever even as Tony Abbott came unstuck | David Marr

Related: If you don't think multiculturalism is working, look at your street corner | Madeleine Bunting

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Police and protesters clash during Jamar Clark protests as NAACP plans response

The Guardian | Protest -

Friday demonstration for unarmed black man killed in Minneapolis scheduled amid growing police retaliation against protesters outside precinct since Sunday

As protests in Minneapolis intensified over the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of police, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced a planned candlelight vigil and march for Friday, which their leaders would attend.

Jamar Clark was shot in the head by police in the early hours of Sunday morning after an altercation. Officials with the Minnesota police union said that Clark was not handcuffed and was reaching for the officer’s gun; but eyewitnesses disputed that, saying he was cuffed and pinned to the ground at the time he was shot.

Photo is agonizing for me to see. My son is PEACEFULLY protesting w/ hands up; officer is shouldering gun. Why?

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Organisers of cancelled Paris climate march urge global show of support

The Guardian | Protest -

People around the world should protest ‘on behalf of those who can’t’, say organisers of climate march forbidden in light of Paris terror attacks

A march expected to attract 200,000 people onto the streets of Paris ahead of crunch UN climate change talks was forbidden by the French government on Wednesday in light of last Friday’s terror attacks.

But organisers have said it is now even more important for people around the world to come out onto the streets for “the biggest global climate march in history” to protest “on behalf of those who can’t”.

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100 years later: 5 timeless lessons from Joe Hill

Waging Nonviolence -

by Nadine Bloch

A hundred years ago on November 19, 1915, the song writin’, cartoon scribblin’, parody pushin’ Industrial Workers of the World organizer Joe Hill was unceremoniously executed by firing squad in Utah. Ah, but you might say, the only thing I know about him is that “Joe Hill ain’t never died,” quoting the words of a popular folk song. While it is true that not many folks outside of the embattled labor movement and associated circles know much about Joe Hill these days — that’s a crying shame.

Joe Hill’s struggles for worker’s rights, free speech, the right to a fair trial, and against the inequality of our economic order are still significant today. Born in Sweden on October 7, 1879 as Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, Joe Hill left behind a legacy of activist songs as well as innumerable words to live, and die, by. In fact, when the deputy who was directing the firing squad at Hill’s execution said to his men “Ready, aim,” Hill shouted out “Fire, go on and fire!” — calling the shots until the end. He was not only tasking the state, but also the rest of us, to hurry up and act already.

Hill came to the United States in 1902 and spent the next 13 years organizing workers and agitating for change from New York to California. As the impacts of labor organizing and the Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW, strikes were felt, the “copper barons” and corporate cronies were not too happy. Government crackdown on the Wobblies, as members of the IWW are known, was personified in the accusation and then execution of Hill for the murders of a businessman and his son in Salt Lake City. At the time, huge national attention was focused on his case, which was murky at best. Hill’s refusal to testify on his own behalf no doubt contributed to his guilty verdict; reportedly, Hill believed he would be worth more dead than alive to the union cause. Given that 100 years later folks are still talking about him and singing his union songs, odds are good he was right about that.

It’s also true that Hill managed to organize and agitate even beyond the firing squad. Not wanting to be “caught dead in Utah,” he asked to have his body sent to Chicago where it was cremated. His ashes were then distributed, by mail, in 600 envelopes to IWW members, unions and supporters around the world. Reportedly, some ashes were confiscated by the U.S. Postal Service (and just released in the 1990s), some used in building materials (which still can be found in a wall in a Swedish reading room), some were eaten (most recently by Billy Bragg), and some were scattered at events or on the winds of change in Nicaragua, the United States, Canada, Sweden and Australia. So Hill literally lives on not only in song, but also in other remarkable artists and activists. Here are five lessons from Joe Hill that still resonate today.

There is power in a union

Hill believed in the power of a united working class, of organizing to fight the system, not other people. He joined the IWW because it was open to all workers — people of color, women, the un-skilled and foreigners, who were excluded from the AFL at that time. The early 1900s were the heyday of the Wobblies, who were very effective at speaking to people about the necessity of banding together in “One Big Union” to wield power against the corrupt capitalist system to create an industrial democracy.

Unfortunately, the IWW refused to participate in politics at this time — leaving this arena to more conservative socialists who generally scared off the U.S. public. They also refused to sign contracts with bosses, seeing them as too much of a compromise, which meant they were unable to solidify gains won through strikes. Due to these factors, divisions within the IWW, and severe government crackdowns, membership tanked by the mid 1920s — and the union never recovered.

Linocut by Carlos Cortez, 1979. (CSPG)

Still, Joe Hill wrote some visionary and cutting words to traditional tunes that live on to tell the glory of the working class. In “Workers of the World, Awaken,” he wrote:

Workers of the world, awaken! Break your chains. Demand your rights.
All the wealth you make is taken by exploiting parasites.
Shall you kneel in deep submission, From your cradles to your graves?
Is the height of your ambition, To be good and willing slaves?
Arise, ye prisoners of starvation! Fight for your own emancipation;
Arise, ye slaves of every nation, In One Union grand.

To build your movement, be inclusive

Recognizing that building people power requires growing a movement’s numbers, Hill wrote songs to inspire solidarity in the ranks and recruit new members. He was an early feminist, at least as much as one can tell from his words about union membership and the important role women could play in class struggle. In “The Rebel Girl,” inspired by the phenomenal radical Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, he penned a targeted lesson to his fellow union brothers. He wrote:

Though her hands may be harden’d from labor, And her dress may not be very fine;
But a heart in her bosom is beating, That is true to her class and her kind.
And the grafters in terror are trembling, When her spite and defiance she’ll hurl.
For the only thoroughbred lady, Is the Rebel Girl.

Creativity gets the goods

As a songwriter, poet, public speaker and organizer, Hill was a cultural worker who knew the power of harnessing creativity and catchy tunes to spread a message where traditional media would fall flat. The Wobblies embraced songs, comics, strikes, soapboxing, and other creative tactics in reaching out to unorganized workers as well as in direct actions on the job site. “A pamphlet, no matter how good, is never read more than once, but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over,” Hill wrote in a letter to the editor of Solidarity in November 1914. “And I maintain that if a person can put a few common sense facts into a song and dress them up in a cloak of humor, he will succeed in reaching a great number of workers who are too unintelligent or too indifferent to read a pamphlet or an editorial on economic science.”

You can’t eat promises

In several songs, it was clear that Hill believed that promises of future gain were no substitute for a better life in the here and now. His parody “The Preacher and the Slave,” of a Salvation Army hymn, “Sweet Bye and Bye,” was the origin of the phrase “pie in the sky,” which stands in for a false promise or unattainable goal.

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die (and that’s a lie).

Don’t mourn, organize

Perhaps Joe’s most famous directive and organizing principle was captured in one of his last communications, a telegram to union compatriot Big Bill Haywood on the eve of his execution. It lives on in the work of nonviolent activists across the globe from Beirut to Paris, and rings especially true as we struggle to move beyond violent acts of terrorism and revenge to dismantle the systems of oppression that drive evil and inequity. “Goodbye Bill,” he wrote. “I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize.”

Thank you Joe Hill, and those that continue to keep his lessons alive by carrying on the work.

Kosovo: Violent protests after an arrest of opposition MP

Revolution News -

Protesters clashed with police and threw stones and paint at the government building in Kosovo at Wednesday, after an arrest of opposition MP. Albulena Kadaj-Bujupi, an MP of the opposition Alliance  for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) was arrested on the charges that she threw tear gas in the Kosovo Assembly. Police have also issued a warrant for the arrest Read More

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LAPD Runs Over Black Man and Calls for Backup, EMT Arrives 1/2 Hour Later

Revolution News -

Please read and share the attached flyer regarding a (Possible Fatal) Hit and No Tell in #DTLA involving the #LAPD. — Jasmyne Cannick (@Jasmyne) November 18, 2015 LOS ANGELES, CA – As news stations were flooded with stories about a hit and run in Los Angeles on Sunday night, a horrifying incident in Downtown Read More

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The Script for the Fake Ayotzinapa Confrontation

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  Mexico: On Wednesday November 11, several buses of students from Raul Isidro Burgos normal school in Ayotzinapa were attacked by police while headed back to the school from Chilpancingo. The students were ambushed on the Tixtla-Chilpancingo highway. A brutal police repression ensued but the narrative pushed in social media and news was that a Read More

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