February — Two 16-year-old youths have been incarcerated for several months now by the criminal IN-justice system. They are being charged as adults for “aggravated assault” and denied bail! According to allegations, the young men used a knife to demand money from someone on the street.
At the time of the arrest they were separated and forcefully interrogated for hours. The police told the youths that if they did not “confess” to more crimes, their pictures would be shown to any number of random victims who could be convinced to “identify” them as perpetrators. The racist cops told the youths that this would be easy to accomplish simply because they are black. About 70% of the U.S prison population is black and Latino. While blacks and Latinos comprise only 25% of the U.S. population, nearly triple that percent are in prison.
The official police report does tell the truth about one thing. It states that the youths said they were hungry. Viewing that issue more broadly, every day over 30 million people go to bed hungry in the U.S., including 46% of all black children, 40% of Latino children and 16% of white children. The cause of this hunger is the international system of capitalism – U.S. imperialism in particular – which has also killed over 650,000 Iraqis in the last four years, and well over 1.2 million since 1992. Globally, more than 850 million people live on less than one dollar a day – the international poverty line set by the World Bank – and half the world’s population lives on less than $2-a-day! Over 250,000 children die every week of hunger and malnutrition. The vast majorities are black, Latin and Asian.
Why aren’t the criminals responsible for this in jail? For one, what they call democracy is really a dictatorship of the business owners, of the capitalist class. They control the power of the state, — courts, cops, government, schools, and military — that they use it to violently maintain power. Two, there is not yet a mass revolutionary communist movement to overthrow this system.
Members of PLP are active in the defense and support of these two teens. The support group is having regular meetings and has divided up tasks, like organizing a schedule for visits to see the youths in jail, raising money to put into the jail commissary accounts (so the two teens have access to basics like writing paper and stamps), meeting with the defense lawyers, and generating publicity about the case.
The jails will be filled with the capitalists only when we make a communist revolution, put an end to the whole profit system, and struggle successfully to completely defeat the legacy of racism. For now, as the system drives our class further into misery, PL does not condone anti-working class actions. It is wrong to forcefully take something from another member of our class. Even more importantly, however, we must point out that the main criminals are not youths who may sometimes make a bad decision, but the system itself which ravages our lives much more deeply.
Our alternative is to bring communist ideas to workers, youth, and soldiers. We must organize to smash capitalism, the root of our class problems. An important first step is to bring a sizable contingent to our May Day activities, where everyone can be inspired by a glimmer of the positive, communist future ahead. J