Harlem, NY—On Friday, August 30, 2013, the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations (BIBC) held a militant demonstration to oppose the invasion of Syria that the U.S. imperialists characterize as “imminent.”
A number of anti-imperialist organizations, including the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, the ANSWER Coalition, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and police brutality activist Jose Lasalle came to speak out.
The rally was held on the corner of 125th St. and Adam Clayton Powell in the heart of Harlem.
It was an extremely important rally, as it represented BIBC’s intervention in what otherwise has been the white left anti-war-led and defined Hands Off Syria campaign.
It enabled the BIBC to raise the righteous slogan of “Victory to Syria! Police out of Harlem!”, thus tying the colonial occupation of Syria to the colonial occupation of the African community.
Just as the slogan was dual in nature, so was the action itself. The demonstration didn’t simply serve as one front of resistance against the U.S. invasion of Syria; it also served as a political and ideological blow to the U.S. domestic colonialist state, particularly in the form of the NYPD against the African community.
Pigs don’t want us to hear it
It was only two weeks ago that the BIBC held an effective March for Black Justice as the intro to its national conference, also held in Harlem.
The NYPD, up until the last day before the March for Black Justice, denied the BIBC a sound permit that would enable us to project the presentations to the masses.
It was only because of the resistance of the people who called the 28th Precinct of the NYPD, which caused them to back down and gave us the permits.
As a consequence of that struggle at the March for Black Justice, we were able to back the state up even further on the question of free speech at the Syria rally.
When BIBC Political Action Working Group Chair Diop Olugbala picked up a megaphone and began chanting “U.S. Out of Syria! Police Out of Harlem!” a civil affairs pig from the 28th District confronted him and instructed him to put the megaphone down.
Olugbala challenged the pig, stating that he just attended a Hands Off Syria demonstration organized by white people in Time Square and no one challenged their right to use a megaphone. Therefore, Olugbala argued, “We uptown now and we gonna do the same thing!”
From then on it was truly on. African militants and white allies alike lined up side-by-side in righteous defiance of the U.S. imperialist campaign of war.
Imperialism at home and abroad
All speakers present united with the overview made by Comrade Olugbala in which he stated that there is no difference between the function and nature of the U.S. colonial police in the African community and that of the U.S. imperialist state, typically in the form of the Marines in the Middle East.
Moreover, Olugbala explained, the anti-colonial sector of the African Liberation Movement has a responsibility to unite with the anti-U.S. imperialist resistance being waged by the toiling masses of Arab people in the Middle East, for doing so serves to weaken the capacity of the U.S. imperialist state to attack the African community.
Therefore, the BIBC sees it as its responsibility to lend any resources at its disposal to the support and defense of the Syrian people and their struggle for liberation, and that the holding of this action is one of the ways in which such support must be lent.
This united position enabled the BIBC to project a genuine anti-imperialist line out to the international anti-imperialist movement. Local as well as international media covered the BIBC’s involvement in the Hands Off Syria actions.
The BIBC’s position on the Syria invasions also won the unity of the African community itself, where African workers began to stop in to support. Some joined in the action, picking up signs or joining with the chants.
BIBC organizers distributed literature to the people and signed those who were interested up to join the coalition.
The action also enabled the BIBC to deepen its relationship with other anti-imperialist organizations in the U.S., particularly in New York City.
Among the representatives of such organizations was Fernanda Pardo of RSCC. Fernanda made an insightful statement and mobilizing call for activists to unite with the struggle against not only the imperialist invasion of Syria but also the ideological and recruitment strategy that U.S. general David Petraeus is implementing in City University of New York (CUNY) campuses through their ROTC programs.
We also heard a statement from police brutality activist Jose LaSalle about the terroristic relationship that the NYPD has with African community in Harlem.
Mobilizing statements were made by Emmanuel Pardilla of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the ANSWER Coalition. Emmanuel pointed to the fact that the U.S. imperialist state is engaged in imperialist assault on Syria and the African and other oppressed peoples worldwide.
Between speakers, other BIBC organizers put out consistent statements tying the colonial war the U.S. government is waging against the African community and that which it threatens to initiate in Syria.
The BIBC reminded ruling class media as well that it was the U.S. government that has waged chemical warfare against the African community at least since the Vietnam War where it extracted opium for conversion to heroin that it would ultimately flood the same streets of Harlem with.
Given this history, who is the U.S. to accuse anyone of wielding chemical weapons? Even if it was proven that Syria had chemical weapons, who is the U.S. to say they do not have a right to?
For the duration of the demonstration, BIBC speakers broke the already glass-jawed justification for an invasion of Syria down to its last compound.
The BIBC-led demonstration in Harlem gave an entirely different significance and definition to the general anti-war movement’s response to Syria.
This is a form of resistance against U.S. imperialism from one U.S. colony to another.
While the anti-imperialist struggle in Syria and other parts of the world are not currently led by revolutionary organization or theory, it is clear that the conditions for the emergence of revolutionary scale are emerging right now.
The presence of the BIBC, and its growing influence amongst the broad sectors of the international anti-imperialist movement, is evidence of the emergence of such conditions