Revolutionary Transit Worker – Supplement

Supported by the League for the Revolutionary Party

March 11, 2015

No Justice, No Peace!

Jail Time for Racist, Brutal Police!

Mirjan Lolja, the off-duty cop who assaulted and choked a female platform conductor, Fatima Futa, last December only faces misdemeanor charges. He should be facing felony charges, as the leadership of TWU Local 100 officially states. The misdemeanor charges are a slap in the face to our union. They further expose the racist contempt of the ruling class of this city and state for working class and poor people who demand justice for racist police attacks.

All over the USA, racist police get away with murder, especially of young Black men. The outrage this sparks erupted in mass action around the country this past year following the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and here in New York, Eric Garner, the son of a TWU Local 100 member.

Many protestors increasingly showed their hatred for the whole racist system. When Black and Latino youth chant “We can't breathe!” it’s not just to echo Eric Garner’s last words. They also feel themselves caught in a chokehold, by police and courts who are ready to imprison them for the slightest infraction, real or imagined, and by a capitalist economy in which minimum-wage jobs or unemployment are increasingly the only future. Many see that behind the racist criminalization of people of color is an economic system – capitalism – that has always relied on exploiting them as low-wage labor in the toughest jobs.

Fight Against Racist Police Attacks Is Transit Workers’ Fight

Many transit workers and their families know firsthand the everyday racist harassment of the NYPD, from “Stop and Frisk” to “Broken Windows.” They and their families knew that the fight against police brutality and racism was their fight. Many of them supported and participated in the massive protests for justice for Eric Garner and all of the victims of police brutality.

Unfortunately, John Samuelsen and the leadership of TWU Local 100 in general have contributed half-heartedly and mostly verbally to this struggle. The Local’s call for a turnout at Lolja’s court appearance on Mar. 11 was little and late. Instead of working to mobilize our members and the members of other unions to support and unite with workers and youth who were in the streets for months fighting for justice, our union leadership stayed shamefully silent about the struggle against police brutality. At the August 23, 2014 memorial and protest for Eric Garner, our union, with 38,000+ members, mustered only several dozen.

When an off-duty cop brutally assaulted Sister Futa, it took our union leadership more than 10 days to even make a statement about it. Bronx DA Robert Johnson, a Democrat, in office now for 26 years with the unions’ support, has made no hint about filing felony charges against Lolja. Despite this, Samuelsen said, “I fully expect the Bronx DA to prosecute this case to the fullest extent of that law.” Since that statement on January 2, the union has made no public protest whatever to the DA Johnson demanding that this police officer be charged with felony assault. The union has also refused to describe the assault on Fatima Futa as an act of police brutality and has refused to connect the fight for justice for Sister Futa to the fight for justice for all of the victims of police brutality

Further, Local 100 has tried to preserve friendly relations with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the racist phony police “union.” The PBA’s leaders praised the cop who killed Eric Garner and the jury who let his killer go free. Though relations now are cool between the PBA and Local 100, Samuelsen & Co insist that the PBA, whose members’ job is to assault Transit workers and all workers, is a real union. On the contrary: the PBA and all cop “unions” should be driven out of all labor federations and councils!

TWU Can Show the Power

When Eric Garner’s killer walked free, Samuelsen’s statement in response said “In federal court, in civil suit and in the next life (!) we will bear witness until justice is served.” Samuelsen kept Local 100 on the sidelines while the movement against police brutality was attacked on all sides and scapegoated for the killing of 2 cops by a deranged individual. Our union must break with this pattern of passivity and lack of mobilization in response to police brutality and racism. TWU Local 100 is a big, potentially powerful multiracial union built largely by the struggles of immigrant workers. The TWU has a history of supporting anti-racist struggles like the Civil rights movement. We should show solidarity with the struggles of all the victims of police brutality and racism and organize all of our union’s power and resources to support the struggle for justice.

John Samuelsen says that “transit workers will not be silenced in our outrage” over the lack of justice for Fatima Futa. But what concrete steps is Local 100 taking to build and sustain the anti-racist struggle? To unite us with our brothers and sisters, the poor and the working class youth who have shown the way forward in the fight against racism and police brutality? Real solidarity requires ongoing mobilization of our members to actively join this fight for justice. It requires mobilizing all the power and resources that Local 100 can provide to support and defend the struggle for justice for all the victims of police brutality. Real solidarity also requires that we break publicly with the PBA, a tool of racist reaction in the hands of the ruling class of this city and an enemy of every working class and poor person in this city. Only then will Local 100 play the role it was built to play as a champion of the working class and poor and a self-defense organization of our whole class.

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