… from By Any Means Necessary, New Afrikan People’s Organization, September/October, Vol 2 No. 2, 1985 …
The spirit of old John Brown lives. On a cold day in December of 1859 the forces of racism and yankee (white settler) colonialism thought that by hanging Brown and his comrades that they would rid themselves of what he represented; of the ideas, courage, commitment and struggle he embodied and catalyzed in others; and of his very spirit itself. How wrong they were! Today, in 1985, the forces of imperialism have learned nothing, save how to be even more repressive than they were 125 years ago.
Today, 17 John Browns are in prisons and/or in courts for being human beings, for standing up for freedom, and for struggling on the side of the oppressed and wretched of the earth. It is these men and women that “BAMN!” wishes to bring to the attention of our readers and the entire anti-imperialist movement. By the positions they have taken and by their actions they are our comrades, they are our sisters and brothers in the struggle. It is important for us to break through the silence (in the “left”) and the lies (in the right- dominated mainstream) and pronounce our solidarity with these comrades boldly and without equivocation.
Where It All Began
On October 20th, 1981 three white anti-imperialists were captured in the aftermath of an attempted expropriation of a Brink’s armored truck in Nyack, New York. One of these copped a plea, but the other two, Judy Clark and David Gilbert, identified themselves as freedom fighters who had taken the question of solidarity with the New Afrikan Independence Movement to the armed clandestine level, in an organized alliance with New Afrikan Freedom Fighters (known as the Revolutionary Armed Task Force). They were/are examples of the highest political expression of opposing imperialism and what it means to fight like John Brown. They represent the continuation of a tradition dating back to the days of Harper’s Ferry Raid and Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad. This is not a new struggle. Clark and Gilbert received life sentences in a spectacular “show trial” designed to demonstrate that .Amerika was cracking down on “terrorists”, even white “terrorists” from oppressor nation petty bourgeois backgrounds.
In the course of its Brink’s “investigations” the FBI and New York Police Department – coalesced in a formation aptly named the Joint Terrorist Task Force (JTTF) – unleashed it’s repressive fury on the oppressor nation anti- imperialist movement as it had done on the New Afrikan Independence Movement. Doors of private homes were kicked in, room searched and documents seized; an anti-imperialist art center known as the Madame Binh Graphic Art Collective was raided; and all across the empire FBI inTERRORgations were conducted upon the families, friends, neighbors and supporters of movement activists.
Dr. Alan Berkman, Eve Rosahn, Bernadine Dohrn and Silvia Baraldini, all oppressor nation anti-imperialist activists, refused to collaborate with the grand jury dealing with the federal side of the Brink’s case. Baraldini would later be dragged into the case through the testimony of the traitors Tyrone Rison and Peter Middleton. She was found guilty of RICO(racketeering) conspiracy charges to free Black Liberation Army freedom fighter Assata Shakur from prison and to rip off armored cars. Baraldini is presently incarcerated on a 4O-year sentence in Pleasanton, California.
The Return Of Shango
Shango, the spirit of the mighty warrior, never turns from the call to do battle for a just cause. Where there is a basis for armed struggle it will invariably emerge. By its own timetable it will occur as if determined by an inexorable universal law. Bourgeois governments frequently try to contain and eliminate any kind of revolutionary counterforce against their authority, and control it in the first instance by ideologically isolating and denying the need for/existence of armed freedom fighters; and, in the second instance by turning to its war machine to protect its interests. Imperialism’s arsenal and armed forces are not only poised for regular and thermonuclear warfare in Europe: against the Soviet Bloc or various parts of the so-called Third World engaging in or financing counterrevolutionary warfare; but, it is also poised for and engaging in War in Amerikkka. The National Guard, the state and local police forces, and the JTTF must not be considered apart from the empire’s total war machine. It is moreover, this imperialist war machine in its military and its corporative tentacles that anti-imperialist forces began to attack in military and political ways between 1982 and 1985.
The known revolutionary “urban guerrilla” organizations inside the Amerikan empire’s home base in this period include the United Freedom Front UFF), the Armed Resistance Unit (ARU), Red Guerrilla Resistance (RGR), Fuerzas Armada de Liberacion Nacional (FALN) and the Black Liberation Army (BLA). The BLA and FALN are self-defined revolutionary pro-independence underground formations. The UFF, ARU, and RGR are Northamerican anti-imperialist clandestine formations. Some of the armed actions New claimed by these Northamerican formations include:
UFF’s New York state bombing campaign really jumped off with their simultaneous hit of a U.S. Naval Militia Base in Queens and the 77th U.S. Army Reserve Command Center in Hempstead, N.Y. on 5/11/83. Then came the bombing of an Army Reserve Center in the Bronx on 8/21/83 (in commemoration of the murder of New Afrikan revolutionary George Jackson in 1971). Then the 12/13/83 bombing of a district Navy recruiting headquarters in Long Island; following the next day by the attempted bombing of a Honeywell factory (in which case the bomb did not go off). A little more than a month later, however, a Motorola factory in Queens was successfully bombed on 11/29/84.
ARU began claiming armed actions with their 4/26/83 bombing of the National War College at Fort McNair. On 8/17/83 the ARU blasted the Washington Navy Yard’s Computer Operations Complex. This was followed by their piece de resistance, the bombing of the bourgeoisie in their seat of power, the U.S. Capitol Building on 11/7/83. This action directly targeted U.S. involvement in the invasion of Grenada and in Lebanon.
RGR is the only formation to carry out any armed actions so far this year, bombing the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (the PBA is New York’s killer cop protection society) in downtown Manhattan on 2/21/85 in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination.
These various actions constitute the major examples of armed anti-imperialist criticism and propaganda against political, corporate and military installations of the international u.s. bourgeoisie inside its home base, the u.s.a. itself.
These and other bombings, hijackings, etc. occurred inside the u.s. at a time when abroad u.s. troops, embassies, executives and even mere symbols of yankee imperialist power were tasting the revolutionary might of people’s wars for national liberation in Afrika, Asia and Latin America, anti-imperialist urban guerrilla war in Western Europe. The international clamor and fuss over “terrorism” only served to underscore how impotent u.s. imperialism stood in relation to this form of revolutionary warfare and mobilization – especially psychologically. Knowing as they did, and still do, that much of the power and control they possess over the majority (oppressed nations and peoples) comes from their possessing the appearance of power and control, that is to say, the appearance of invulnerability; imperialism knew that it had to respond quickly to the challenge of urban guerrillas operating in their midst on their precious home terrain.
Massive intelligence operations were again unleashed. Applications were made to federal judges for telephone wiretap permits and for surreptitious entry orders to bug people’s homes including bedrooms and bathrooms – routinely approved of course. Grand juries were impanelled to serve as “grand inquisitions” and fishing expeditions. New police technologies were employed including the use of a vast array of computer systems linked together under the command of the JTTF, and the use of the latest in fiber optic video recording (tiny cameras with a lens smaller than the head of a pencil). Police collaboration and consolidation on an international scale; especially through INTERPOL (International Police) was orchestrated. Congress did its job in approving large appropriations for federal police informant or snitch programs, including the federal witness protection program; as well as an array of anti-terrorist enactments such as the No Bail Law of the Ball Reform Act of 1984 and the Omnibus Crime Control Act. All of the millions of dollars spent on these measures, all of the surveillance hours, computer time, and snitches bought represented only the tip of the iceberg of repression coming at the revolutionary sector of the oppressed nations and peoples inside the u.s. Much more working against us that We have yet to know.
These escalations and intensifications did not of themselves make it inevitable that they would capture a single freedom fighter. What they created was a public atmosphere more or less conducive to their intelligence operations and for however they chose to move against revolutionaries. What they enhanced were their chances for detecting the operations and whereabouts of a guerrilla cell. They upped the ante so to speak, in the sense that if a guerrilla made one act of sloppiness, one loose end too many, one slip, that could be their last. Uncle Sam’s net would be right there to pull them in.
For the anti-imperialist/proletarian internationalist armed clandestine movement the fateful year of 1984 brought with it heightened attention from Big Brother – the u.s. government. On June 4th, the FBI formally announced its unleashing of “Operation Western Sweep” with the particular objective to locate three New Afrikan Freedom Fighters and nine North American revolutionaries. All nine whites, named in this FBI communique (plus five others) were in fact captured within one years time. The three New Afrikans are still uncaptured and in the whirlwind. The rest five of those captured were Ray Levasseur, Pat Gross, Barbara Curzi, Jaan Lamaan and Richard Williams on November 3rd in Ohio. Trials against them (the “Ohio 5”) are currently in progress. The FBI connects them with actions of the Jonathan Jackson/Sam Melville Brigade, on armed clandestine organization that claimed responsibility for several bombings in the New England area in the mid1970s plus the murder of a police officer in Boston. The FBI has also alleged that these comrades formed the backbone of the UFF.
Shortly after these arrests Susan Rosenberg and Tim Blunk fell into the hands of the state on November 29th in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Sloppiness and inattention to detail led to a lone Cherry Hill cop pulling up on them at an outdoor storage facility where they were loading a large quantity of explosives and weapons. The inability to respond quickly and combatively led to their being taken in. Rosenberg had been sought as a fugitive from the Brink’s case having been fingered by the snitches as a participant in several armed actions of the RATF. She is facing prosecution on those charges, and together with Blunk were sentenced May 20th in a federal court on conspiracy to possess unlawful materials (explosives, weapons. and false identification) for the maximum penalty of 55 years.
On April 24,, 1985 in Norfolk, Va. Thomas and Carol Manning, were captured along with their two children. The Mannings have been put together with the Ohio 5 and also face conspiracy charges arising out of their alleged connection to the UFF. Since their incarceration the state has held their children incommunicado, not allowing the parents, their lawyers, or even other members of their families to have custody, see or even know the whereabouts of these children. It is believed that the government is using the children to demoralize and break their parents, and possibly even to extract evidence and testimony from them to use to send their parents and others on trial to prison.
On May 11th, 1985 the long sought after “sole white member” of the BLA (according to FBI intelligence reports), Marilyn Buck was captured without incidence in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. Linda Evans, a comrade travelling with her was seized after an attempted escape. Evans’ own history as a revolutionary goes back more than 15 years although presently she has only been charged with aiding and abetting a fugitive (Buck), false id and weapons
charges. Buck faces prosecution for her alleged participation in RATF ACTIONS (the October 20th Brink’s action and others named by the traitors Rison and Middleton). On this same day Laura Whitehorn was arrested in Baltimore, Maryland where Buck and Evans had been followed from in hopes they might unknowingly lead the FBI to a meeting with others in the armed clandestine movement. The FBI closed the net when it appeared to them they might abandon the car that they had bugged and give them the slip. These three comrades have been held under the No Bail Law. Evans has filed a formal protest and was finally given bail, although she has not yet been released. Buck and Rosenberg have voiced a protest that they be incarcerated together and permitted to speak with each other since they are both being prosecuted on the same RICO/Brink’s charges. Buck is also facing prosecution for her escape while on furlough from Alderson, W. Va. federal prison for women in 1977 where she was serving time for illegal possession and acquisition of weapons and related items (false identification).
Less than two weeks after the arrests of Buck, Evans and Whitehorn two more comrades were captured including the last white fugitive named in the FBI’s “Operation BOSLUC / Westem Sweep,” Dr. Alan Berkman. Berkman was accused in the federal RICO/Brink’s trial of aiding and abetting RATF combatants after the October 20th Brink’s action and shootout in Rockland County. Particularly, the traitor Peter Middleton claimed he removed a bullet from Buck’s leg that she accidentally fired in the course of the getaway. Berkman was captured along with Betty Ann Duke on May 23rd, in Bucks County, Pa. not far from Philadelphia. Several FBI cars swooped down on them and forced them off the highway they were travelling on. Duke, originally from Texas, has a long history of anti-imperialist and anti-klan organization. In Austin, Texas she was a founding member of a John Brown Anti-Klan Committee chapter and worked tirelessly in the white community to organize students, and women and working class people to fight white supremacy, the Klan and to stop U.S. imperialism’s repression of the colonized Black nation of New Afrika. Duke is currently out on bail with “house arrest” restrictions.
Our Struggle Continues
Without a doubt the government will attempt to tie these 14 oppressor nation revolutionaries (plus Clark, Baraldini and Gilbert by inference) to as much of the activities of the RATF, UFF, ARU and RGR as it can. It will undoubtedly seek to claim to have crushed the North American armed clandestine movement as it has claimed the same in respect to the armed formations of the Puerto Rican and New Afrikan national liberation movement. Undoubtedly the government will continue to intensify its efforts and spend more and more of the profits reaped from the oppressed nations and workers of the world to defeat our just struggles for liberation and social transformation. And like it thought it had killed the spirit of old John Brown, they will undoubtedly fail.
The New Afrikan Independence Movement, the struggle of Afrikan people worldwide, and national liberation movements in general must continue to give our solidarity and our leadership to the emerging anti-imperialist class· struggles inside the imperialist oppressor nations. Inside the U.S. since the time of Harriet Tubman to the time of Malik EI Shabazz/Malcolm X to the present We believe that the New Afrikan Independence Movement has a responsibility to guide the direction of revolutionary social forces Inside the U.S. – not just morally, but strategically. We see that We must go beyond being the “conscience of the oppressor nation” to being the thinking mind and decisive faculty of the forces who sincerely and ardently desire to fight to put an end to oppression and colonialism at home and abroad. In the civil war in the 1800s our movement wasn’t in the driver’s seat and so this country went from the domination of one slave-driving minority to that of another kind – industrial, imperialistic capitalism. Today, in the post-industrial Amerikkka of 1985, the revolutionary People’s wars and class wars against the U.S. Empire must be guided from beginning to fruition towards the revolutionary solution of to each nation, self-determination. Caution and prudence is always advisable in dealing with any North American. All the same We do not struggle in test tubes. Our movement must and will develop connections to those John Browns fighting in our days. What We must do is resist opportunism and dependence on these forces; but, indeed build the principle of self-determination in all facets of our work and revolutionary practice.