News, commentary and analysis by leaders of the Communist Party USA in New York State. We discuss State politics and issues in New York City, covering developments in labor, civil rights education, housing and more.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

NY State Communist Party Statement on Racist Post Cartoon

Despite Rupert Murdoch’s half-hearted apology for the racist cartoon one of his many newspapers, the New York Post, published, many people, including religious and civil rights leaders as well as big sections of the labor movement, are demanding more. They vow to continue protesting and boycotting the Post until demands are met.

The New York State Communist Party fully agrees, and supports the demands.

The New York Post, as well as the other publications and broadcasters owned by Murdoch’s Orwellian-named “News Corporation,” are notorious for their far-right, anti-labor, and often openly-racist views. Here in New York for example, the Post, during the time of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 strike, doctored a photo of the union’s president, Roger Touissant, making it look as if he were behind bars.

The cartoon in question portrayed a monkey (which the post claims represents the mad chimp shot in Connecticut) shot, with two police officers holding smoking guns. One of the officers is depicted as saying, “I guess they’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus package.”

The previous page contained an article on the stimulus package and a picture of Barack Obama, whose name is most closely associated with the economic stimulus. Given the history of racism at the Post, the history of police murders of African Americans in this city, and the history of racist portrayals of African Americans as monkeys, does anyone seriously believe that no one in the Post “news” room thought the image might be construed as offensive? Of course not. The cartoon was no mistake.

We, along with many thousands of others, demand:

• That the FCC revoke the special waiver that gives Murdock the right to own two newspapers and two television stations (the Post and the Wall Street Journal; Fox 5 and CW 9) in the city. We don’t think this rule, which was designed to stop big corporations from dominating the public discourse, should ever be waived. It is even more odious that such a company as the News Corporation should receive such preferential treatment.

• The Post should be made to make public its employment diversity numbers: Do those who hold high positions at the Post reflect the composition of the city? If the Post won’t do it, the city council should legislate it. We applaud the city councilors who are planning to introduce such legislation.

• The Post should fire the editor and the cartoonist, who has a long history of vile cartoons.

• Many have interpreted the cartoon as an incitement to violence, to assassinate our President. We agree that the Department of Justice should investigate this matter further.

Reverend Sharpton, the NAACP and many others are planning to continue the protesting. We support these actions, and encourage our members and all other people of goodwill to join these peaceful actions against the Post and the News Corporation.

By Dan Margolis
For the NY State Communist Party

Monday, February 23, 2009

Labor Rallies Against Racist Editorial cartoon

By Gary Bono

On Thursday, February 19th, hundreds of angry protesters, including labor leaders and members, clergy and elected officials, gathered in midtown Manhattan for a noontime rally protesting a blatantly racist editorial cartoon that ran in the previous day’s edition of the notoriously right-wing New York Post. They called for a boycott of the racist newspaper, known for its racist, anti-working people positions. Many also called for a federal investigation of the paper, saying that the cartoon could be seen as an incitement to assassinate the President.

The cartoon depicted two white police officers, guns drawn, standing over the bullet riddled corpse of a chimpanzee, saying, “I guess we’ll have to get someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” On a previous page, the paper carried a photo of President Barack Obama signing the economic stimulus bill.

Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs declined to comment directly but said that he doesn’t consider the New York Post to be a serious news source and doesn’t spend a lot of time reading it.

Post editor Col Allan and cartoonist Sean Delonas defended the cartoon, but many New Yorkers felt differently, and many hundreds of them demonstrated their outrage outside the posh 6th Avenue headquarters of News Corporation, the Post’s parent company, noisily protesting what they saw as a racist smear of Obama and an incitement to violence against him.

Some protestors remarked that the appearance of this particular cartoon during black history month added insult to injury; some saw the attack as a part of the right wing assault on labor and people’s forces in general. The demonstration, originally called by Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, produced a turnout of surprising size and breadth.

In addition to members of the National Action Network, multitudes of outraged citizens turned out. The NAACP, One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement and other civil rights and community organizations had organized presences. As the demonstrators chanted, “boycott the Post” drivers of assign cars, trucks and busses raised their fists and honked their horns in solidarity.

Organized labor was particularly well represented at the rally and, at least once, representatives from the various unions present marched together as a unified labor contingent. The labor turn out included, among others, members from Transport Workers Union Local 100; SEIU 32 BJ, 1199 and 371; AFSCME District Council 37; Public Employees Federation and IBEW. TWU Local 100 and SEIU 32BJ had major organized presences, with leading members among their contingents. In addition to the organized labor turn out, union members, both active and retired, who came to the demonstration on their own greeted and joined their union brothers and sisters on the line.

Numerous public and political figures also turned out for the noon demonstration. These included New York City council representatives John Liu and Charles Barron and State Senator Eric Adams.

Barron supported calls for a boycott of the paper and said that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder should investigate the Post for threatening the life of the President.

Adams, a former NYC Police detective and former head of One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement, also called for an investigation, saying that the U.S. Department of Justice needs to look at the cartoon as an incitement to assassinate the President. Earlier, councilwomen Letitia James called for the editor of the Post to be fired and for an apology to be printed on the paper’s front page. James called the cartoon an example of a “racist mind at work.”

In addition to calling for a boycott of the paper Sharpton called for an investigation of the waiver granted by the FCC to News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch which allowed him to own a newspaper and two TV stations in the same market.

On Friday, following several more protests plus torrents of outraged phone calls and emails and calls for the dismissals of Delonas, Allan or both, the Post issued what has been described as a half-hearted apology. Surprisingly though, the Post choose to use the ‘apology’, buried inside the paper, to attack what it called ‘opportunist’ critics, a veiled reference to Sharpton. This ‘apology’ has done little to silence the calls for the heads of Delonas and Allan and the calls for a boycott of the paper.

In rejecting the ‘apology’ famed movie director, Spike Lee, and R&B artist John Legend have said that, in the future, they will refuse to grant interviews to Post reporters. They asked other entertainment and sports figures to do likewise.

As of this writing it appears that the firestorm generated by the cartoon is far from subsiding. On Saturday, following the initial street demonstrations, national NAACP president Benjamin Jealous said that the cartoon was an invitation to assassination and called for the firing of Post cartoonist Delonas and Post editor Allan. The national chair of the NAACP, Julian Bond, referred to the cartoon as, “thoughtlessness taken to the extreme."

Meanwhile, regional civil rights leaders, like Wilbur Alridge of the NAACP and Ernest Prince of the Urban League have joined the call for a boycott. What’s more the New York Times has reported that some Post employees were themselves dismayed at the papers decision to run the cartoon.

The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the National Association of Black Journalists have also weighed in, with members and officials from the organizations registering their outrage and disgust.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Protest racist NY Post Cartoon

The New York Post has reached a new low, even by their standards. The editorial cartoon in the morning edition of today's paper was shockingly offensive: It depicts police officers who have just shot a mad ape. One of the officers, in the cartoon (click here to see it), says, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

What are they trying to say?

Rev. Al Sharpton noted "
the historic racist attacks on African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys." He further added:

Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill? Given that the New York Post cartoonist came under heavy fire in the past for racially tinged cartoons including the infamous cartoons depicting 2001 mayoral candidate Freddy Ferrer and me in very unflattering ways that were used as a divisive campaign tactic, one cannot ignore their history when one finds out what they could possibly mean by this morning's cartoon.

"The Post should at best clarify what point they were trying to make or in fact reprimand their cartoonist for making inferences that are offensive and divisive at a time the nation struggles to come together to stabilize the economy."

Elena Mora, National Organization Secretary for the CPUSA and contributor to the People's Weekly World, said "This cartoon in today's NY Post is as despicable as the Post gets --
and it does get despicable, frequently, with its right wing, anti-labor, racist, and non-reporting reporting. This, however, is over the top, and we should protest."

A rally in front of the NY Post headquarters, at 1211 6th Ave between 47th and 48th, has been scheduled for February 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm. Sharpton and other leaders will be there to protest the Post's blatantly racist cartoon.

Call the Post at 212-930-8500, or 212-930-8272, or fax a letter to 212-930-8190. Also, letters to the editor can be submitted online.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

10th Anniversary of Amadou Diallo Murder

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the police murder of Amadou Diallo. The story is well known: Diallo, innocent of any crime, was simply standing in the doorway to his apartment building, holding a bag of fast food in one hand, keys in the other. Officers saw Diallo and "mistook" him for a rape suspect, and before Amadou had any time to react, he was killed in hail of 41 gunshots. The then mayor Rudolph Giuliani launched a shockingly racist campaign to smear Diallo's memory as part of a campaign to defend the murderous officers, who got off scott free.

While the officers got off, thousands of people--white, Black, Latino, Asian; young and old; male and female--poured into the streets in protest, including Rep. Charles Rangel, former mayor David Dinkins, Rev. Al Sharpton, NY Daily News columnist Errol Louis and his father, a retired NYPD detective. Many of them, including these leaders, were arrested for peaceful civil disobedience.

Aside from destroying an innocent life, the police murder has become a symbol of the racism that permeates our society.

Much has changed since 1999. We've elected our first ever African American president, and significant strides against racist ideology have been made. Nonetheless, systemic racism is still an ugly part of our society. Police brutality is but one aspect of it. We should take this anniversary as a time to reflect on the progress that has been made, and also to rededicate ourselves to continuing the struggle against racism, which harms all working people.

Below for an article from the People's Weekly World newspaper exposing some of the crimes by police against African Americans in this city alone.

Killed by the NYPD: The system, its problems and the fightback

Protesters demand justice for Sean Bell, Dec. 6, in New York City. PWW photo by Ken BeSaw.
NEW YORK — “No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!” protesters chanted Dec. 6 as they rallied in Manhattan’s Foley Square. The event was planned months in advance to bring attention to the issue of police brutality in New York City. But following the shooting death of groom-to-be 23-year-old Sean Bell, the event took on new meaning and urgency, marking the beginning of a series of actions that will take place across the city in the coming weeks.

Undercover police fired 50 shots outside the Kalua Cabaret in Queens on Nov. 25, killing Bell and wounding Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield. This was not the first time NYPD officers have been “excessive” in the use of their weapons and deadly force. The similarities in police conduct and the department’s response to other cases of police shooting of unarmed individuals are striking. Below are some of these similarities.

For the rest of the article, click here.