Cops exploit Bronx tragedy; WE NEED PEOPLE’S ORGANIZATION INSTEAD!

By Carlito Rovira

 

In the past week many people have been devastated, especially in New York City’s Bronx community, by news video coverage of 15 year old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, who was also known as “Junior.” The graphic video shows Lesandro being savagely stabbed and hacked to death by members of a street youth gang known as “Los Trinitarios.”

There has been a tremendous outpouring of sympathy by people throughout the city and across the country for Lesandro Guzman-Feliz’s grieving mother and family, who will be impacted by this tragic event for years to come. Unfortunately, public discussion of this case was immediately limited by the media and has not addressed the social context that fuel these events in poor working-class communities.

Media reports have emphasized the perpetrators’ life-time record of criminal activity and zeroed-in on outcries for justice by neighborhood residents. And understandably so, mainstream news outlets sensationalized reports of this tragedy and have in various ways called upon stepping up police activity in oppressed people of color neighborhoods while insidiously attempting to facilitate community support for this end.

First we must ask, why is the racist police —with the assistance of the news media— trying to manipulate the justified anguish of this predominantly Dominican Bronx neighborhood? Why is the police controlling the narrative of these events?

As we well know, the police have never been a friend of the Latino community. The NYPD has historically been responsible for killing scores of unarmed Black and Latino people in this city, with violence comparable to that which was deployed against Lesandro.

And despite the police’s repeated mention that Lesandro Guzman-Feliz aspired to be a cop and that he was a member of the Explorers, a youth club under the auspices of the NYPD, when the police was called to the scene it treated Lesandro with the same contempt it treats all youth of color.

In fact, the attitudes of the two responding NYPD officers serve as a window into how the police view violence among people of color. A later-released video shows that as Lesandro laid bleeding to death two uniformed cops stood back without attempting to save his life.

No one can deny that these hideous crimes merit punishment and justice. Such acts are indisputably a clear indication of a mental and emotional departure from basic moral values and a sense of humanity. Death by senseless violence continues to be part of a disturbing panorama that describes the reality for many communities of color.

Violence conducted by individuals for the pettiest of reason is a behavioral matter that can only be addressed in a discussion of culture of the society within which it happens. That is, the violent historical setting from which capitalist culture developed. And because culture is at the heart of this matter, it is unfortunate that a percentage of unstable individuals among oppressed people will tend to mimic the violence of our oppressors.

Violence among oppressed people will never be a problem that the police will attempt to eradicate. They will point to its existence but only as a ploy to convince us that diminishing civil liberties and other meager freedoms works to our “safety.” In short, the deviant behavior of a few will always be used to enhance the powers of the police, courts and prisons.

In fact, since the very beginning of the police, dating back to slavery, their profession centers on inflicting violence on our people whenever they deem necessary. For this reason alone poor working class people cannot rely on the police state for salvation.

Gang violence was never as acute of a problem as it is now, until the 1980’s, when an influx of drugs consumed many communities of color. There was ample evidence, then, pointing to law enforcement, along with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as the main perpetrators in what soon thereafter became a widespread crisis. Gang leaders were corrupted which made these organizations an essential part of the operations that led to funneling drugs into poor communities.

Ultimately every oppressed person in this country will be compelled to realize that peace and security can only come about from our own actions and organizing efforts.

Historically, not all street organizations involved themselves in hideous criminal activity. Many youths joined these groups for noble reasons and simply to obtain a sense of safety and belonging. There are instances in history where street youth groups protected neighborhood residents from crime.

One good example is the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican/Latino youth group that developed on the streets and prisons in Chicago during the 1960’s. They were influenced by the political events of that decade, especially by the activist work of the Black Panther Party. Eventually the Young Lords transcended to become a revolutionary entity.

 

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The Young Lords began on the streets and prisons of Chicago. They eventually transcended to become a revolutionary entity.

 

Such is the direction that these street youth groups of today must take. They must either side with the people and fight on their behalf or allow themselves to be absorbed by the efforts of the police state. In which case they would risk feeling the wrath of a rising revolutionary mass movement.

Justice and protection from criminal elements that have gone to the point of no return, and forgiveness, as Lesandro Guzman-Feliz’s killers, can only come about with a politically and organizationally sophisticated militant mass movement. And that would automatically imply our people exercising the right to use all techniques and methods of self-defense.

THE PUERTO RICAN FLAG: AN INDISPUTABLE SYMBOL OF ANTI-COLONIAL STRUGGLE

By Carlito Rovira

 

This week we will see many Boricuas proudly displaying our solemn symbol, the Puerto Rican Flag, in preparation for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, a spectacular annual celebration that takes place along a 40 block stretch in New York City’s 5th Avenue.

 

To Puerto Ricans the flag represents many things. It is the one aesthetic that compels us to express our aspirations and deepest sentiments as a people, connected to history, culture and heritage.

 

In light of the devastation that occurred in Puerto Rico following the destructive force of Hurricane Maria the flag has also become a symbolism of hope. But the destructiveness of nature can never compare with the outcome of a recent study made that revealed a death toll of 4,645. This report can only serve to accentuate in our minds the intentional neglect by the U.S. Government. The criminality of the Jones Act and the full spectrum of U.S. colonial policy in Puerto Rico affirms the charge of genocide.

 

When we wave the Puerto Rican Flag in the annual events of this week let’s do so without taking the flag for granted, as what we are always encouraged to do by the mainstream in the general culture. The Puerto Rican Flag came about as a result of the sacrifices made by many who fought for the freedom of our people; freedom fighters who struggled against the predatory aims of first the Spanish and then the U.S. colonizers.

 

Puerto Ricans in the Cuban Revolutionary Party, created the Puerto Rican Flag at Chimney Corner Hall in New York City on December 22, 1895. Leading this effort among the Boricuas was Manuel Besosa. They chose to invert the colors of the Cuban Flag following the traditions of the “Two Wings of the Same Bird” – a poetic metaphor of the legendary Lola Rodriguez De Tio and later on used in musical rendition by Cuban revolutionary leader Jose Marti.. Revolutionaries of both countries collaborated with each other for centuries in a mutual struggle against Spanish tyranny.

 

On March 24, 1897, the present-day flag of Puerto Rico was flown for the first time in the municipality of Yauco in an uprising called “Intentona de Yauco.” The aim of this revolt was the independence of Puerto Rico from Spanish colonial rule.

 

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On March 24, 1897 the Puerto Rican Flag was raised for the first time at the uprising known as “Intentona de Yauco.”

 

After the U.S. invasion and colonization of Puerto Rico in 1898 use of the flag was discouraged and stigmatized as something evil by U.S. officials. But it was during the imposition of Law 53 of 1948, better known as the Gag Law, ( in Spanish: Ley de La Mordaza), anyone caught displaying or possessing the flag was immediately arrested by the colonial authorities. Thanks to the nationalist fighting spirit of the Puerto Rican masses the U.S. rulers were forced to withdraw this law.

 

If we are to display the Puerto Rican Flag with meaningfulness know that our right to do so came at a cost that involved the lives and imprisonment of many who loved the homeland, Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican Flag is not for displaying in vain, it is a symbol of defiance and the highest representation of a people’s revolutionary traditions.

 

QUE VIVA PUERTO RICO LIBRE!