Tag Archives: olympics

LA Bosses Attack Homeless Workers

LOS ANGELES, September 26—A multiracial group of 50 women and men marched up the Venice Beach Boardwalk for the second time in two months to demand justice for homeless workers Brendon Glenn and Jason Davis, killed by LAPD cops—and for one of the latest local victims, Jascent-Jamal Lee “Shakespeare” Warren, slain on August 30 by a Cadillac Hotel security guard.
Shakespeare was killed when he went to the aid of homeless friends being harassed by the hotel owner, Sris Sinnathamby, who used a racial epithet as he ordered guard Francisco Guzman to shoot Shakespeare. Charged with murder, Sinnathamby has been released on $1 million bail. Guzman ran away but was captured six days later. He is charged with murder, attempted murder (he shot another man in the leg), and firearms possession.
As Google and other tech firms transform Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey and other Westside neighborhoods into “Silicon Beach,” they are accelerating these neighborhoods’ gentrification and pushing to rid the boardwalk of homeless workers. The racist Los Angeles City Council has declared a homeless state of emergency and pledged $100 million to address the problem, with no known source for the funding or a plan to spend it. Of a previous $100 million the city earmarked to combat homelessness, $87 million went to “law enforcement.” Currently, there are police-escorted sanitation sweeps every Friday morning to run homeless workers off the beach, but no plans to provide housing or even bathroom facilities. As L.A. continues to plan for a 2024 Olympic bid, these crackdowns will only increase. L.A. bosses are eliminating homeless people, not homelessness.
One speaker at the rally raised the issue of racism and recent efforts to integrate police forces throughout the U.S. He concluded that having Black, Latin, and Asian cops, whether rank and file or top brass, does nothing to change the racist, brutal essence of the job. Capitalist bosses in every country use the police to terrorize the working class, he explained, as can be seen with the 43 disappeared students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, and the striking miners murdered in the Marikana Massacre in South Africa. The cops in those countries are the same color as the workers they slaughter, but they’re on the opposite side of the class war.
We are meeting new faces and groups who are cosponsoring these protests. The two Unitarian Universalist church contingents were larger this time. PLP distributed CHALLENGE to marchers and passersby. We identified capitalism as the root cause of the problems of homelessness, racism, and police brutality, and communist revolution as the solution. We are inspired by reading in CHALLENGE about the ongoing protests PLP has helped build in New York City around the murders of Kyam Livingston, Shantel Davis, and others. We will be marching in Venice again on Sunday, October 25.LA

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Olympic Flame Foretells Imperialist Inferno


Every four years the bosses get their chance to parade nationalism with the Olympics games. Gold medals for hypocrisy should go to the rulers of every country that sent athletes to Beijing, with the U.S., China, and Russia taking the lion’s share. This “peaceful gathering of nations” served as yet another battleground in an imperialist rivalry that has just escalated to a new level of armed conflict. Russia’s premier Putin actually took advantage of the opening ceremonies to tell Bush to his face “War has begun,” in Georgia. By the time the games closed, Russia’s emboldened military was threatening pro-U.S. Ukraine and Moldova with the Georgia treatment.

U.S. pundits used the event to accuse the Chinese of hosting “totalitarian games…a showcase for a dictatorship” (Boston Globe, 8/24/08) and made comparisons with Hitler’s Nazi extravaganza in 1936. But U.S. bosses’ gripe with China has nothing to do with “human rights” (as they claim) and everything to do with its support for anti-U.S. forces in Darfur, Burma, Zimbabwe, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere. In Beijing, Bush muttered about China’s “repression,” while the U.S. war machine continued to commit crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan. We can expect more carnage before the rivals reconvene for the London games in 2012. Not only are Russian bosses feeling their imperialist oats, but the Pentagon has elevated Africa to a theater of war, like the Middle East, by setting up its new Africa Command. And the U.S. Navy has re-established its Fourth Fleet, charged with patrolling Latin America, just as Russian warships plan to visit Venezuela. World rulers may well have to take a wartime Olympic break, as they did in 1916 (during World War 1), in 1940 and 1944 (during World War II).


Another side of Olympic phoniness is elitism. The remarkable athletic feats witnessed at Beijing hardly reflect general physical fitness back home, especially in the U.S., with its sickening youth culture of junk food and video games. For every Michael Phelps, there are millions of U.S. children who never even learn how to swim. Competitive sports in the U.S. are open almost exclusively to affluent families that can afford to enroll in year-round leagues and hire private coaches. Parents dreaming of scholarships, endorsements or are selfishly living their lives through their children, push them to the brink and over. Olympians mainly represent a select few of these few, lucky survivors of this over-training, which causes participants, particularly girls, grave injuries like ligament tears and concussions at epidemic rates.

The Olympics were born of inter-imperialist rivalry. A French nobleman, Baron de Coubertin, started the modern Olympic movement to rouse French youth to fitness following his country’s humiliation in a war with Prussia in 1878. The Olympics were built as a playground for ruling classes to compete with each other, even implementing until the 1970s a no-professional rule that barred athletes who accepted pay for athletics. They used this rule to limit participation by working-class athletes. Anti-working class racism permeated the Olympics, especially during the reign of its pro-Nazi president, Avery Brundage (see box this page).

The amateur rule would be thrown out during the 1970s because many imperialist countries could not compete anymore with nations with state-sponsorship of athletes. The Soviet Union briefly ran a sports program that both served the majority of its youth and produced world-class athletes. But Soviet leaders went the all-elite route when they fully embraced capitalism in the post-Stalin era.


Finally, there is the seldom practiced ideal of “fairness” and “sportsmanship.” Olympic organizers set the tone for cheating at the opening by hiding a talented seven-year-old singer backstage while a “prettier” girl lip-synched for the cameras. The U.S. media jumped all over this “outrage.” But how much different was it from Hollywood’s exploitive starlet system or the viciousness of “American Idol”?  Underage Chinese gymnasts and doped Ukrainian weightlifters were sure to follow. Kicking a biased referee square in the face, a Cuban takewondo competitor showed exactly how fair and sportsmanlike the games actually are. The prevailing ethic at Beijing wasn’t the fair play of friendly sport but the win-at-all-costs mentality of capitalist warmakers.

Sure there were some thrilling Olympic moments. But if they result only in patriotic chants for one country over another they are deadly for the international working class and lead straight into the plans of the rulers for wider wars and more capitalist exploitation. A better competition for workers to take sides in is Progressive Labor Party’s long-term struggle to eliminate the profit system, and the imperialist wars it generates, through communist revolution.

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