May Day 2023: Prepare for a long, hot summer of struggle

Akron, Ohio, march demands justice for Jayland Walker, April 15.

It’s May Day – International Workers’ Day – and the United States is a tinderbox of combustible material waiting for a spark. Poor and working people who gather in cities and towns across the country on May 1 should prepare for a long, hot summer of struggle against the capitalist regime.

In a single day, April 17, grand juries in Ohio and Virginia let off killer cops who murdered Black men: Jayland Walker and Timothy McCree Johnson. 

In 2022, U.S. police killed at least 1,176 people – nearly 100 per month – the largest number ever recorded. But 2023 is on track to bust that gruesome record. The rate of fatal police shootings of Black people far outstrips any other group.

Just days before, on April 14, a 16-year-old Black honor student, Ralph Yarl, was shot by a white racist in Kansas City, Missouri, for the “crime” of ringing his doorbell. Yarl had mistaken the bigot’s street address for the location where he was supposed to pick up his younger siblings.

The critically wounded youth ran to neighboring houses seeking help – only to be ignored. Then, finally, a neighborhood resident saw Yarl lying in a pool of blood in a driveway and got help. Fortunately, he survived.

On April 13, in Brooklyn, New York’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood, police shot and killed an elderly Black man after they broke into his building and pounded on doors “searching for a robbery suspect.” The NYPD claims the man was holding a pistol. He didn’t fire at the cops, but Caesar Robinson “was shot numerous times” before he died.

The outrages don’t stop there. On April 19, the Dekalb County Medical Examiner released its official autopsy report on Atlanta, Georgia, forest defender Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán, who was shot and killed by Georgia State Troopers during a brutal raid on “Cop City” protesters in January.

The cops claimed Tortuguita shot first. The Medical Examiner’s report confirmed what everyone knew – the cops lied. There was no gunpowder residue on the hands of the Latinx-Indigenous nonbinary activist. Their hands were raised when their body was riddled with 57 police bullets.

The Biden administration and Senate’s Democratic Party majority have joined the Republican House majority and right-wing state and local governments to fork over additional billions of funding to police agencies. 

Remember how Biden rode to victory over bigot Donald Trump on the coattails of the massive Black Lives Matter movement following the police murder of George Floyd in 2020? Since taking office, Biden has only done the bidding of the bosses frightened by the Black Lives uprising.

War at home, war abroad

The police war on Black and Brown people at home is an extension of U.S. wars for empire abroad. In the last year, Biden and Congress have spent well over $100 billion funding the U.S./NATO proxy war in Ukraine against Russia and the people of Donbass. 

As this is being written on April 28, a Ukrainian strike on the city of Donetsk has killed at least seven people and wounded 19 in a busy shopping area – the latest in hundreds of similar war crimes committed against civilians in the Donbass region since the U.S.-backed coup in Kiev in 2014. 

Ukraine’s war on civilians had already claimed more than 14,000 lives before the escalation of the conflict in February 2022. It’s unclear how many more have died since Russia was forced to intervene to protect the population of Donbass and eastern Ukraine last year, but it’s certainly in the tens of thousands on both sides, if not more.

As the conflict drags on, bringing direct U.S. military conflict with Russia ever closer, Washington is also gearing up for war with the People’s Republic of China. In fact, this is the war favored by the Republican far right and the most overtly pro-fascist factions of the U.S. ruling class. But there is bipartisan agreement on the dangerous buildup in the Pacific and Asia.

From Cuba and Venezuela to Iran and Zimbabwe, people continue to suffer the effects of U.S. sanctions and blockades – another form of warfare. U.S. wars, both proxy and open, continue to kill from the Horn of Africa and Syria to Palestine and Yemen.

For workers here, the costs of U.S. wars have been devastating – not only robbing funds from desperately-needed social services to pay Pentagon contractors and U.S. proxy regimes but providing the rationale of out-of-control price-gouging by capitalist profiteers. 

The cost of fuel, food, rent, utilities, and health care continue to rise as wages stagnate, and the Democrat/Republican axis removes all of the meager protections put in place during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the unaddressed climate crisis devastates swaths of the country, upending lives with startling regularity.

The increasingly desperate conditions have inspired powerful strikes coast-to-coast. The bosses have taken note of the upturn in labor organizing and strike activity – led by young workers – and are positioning their politicians to crack down, even passing measures to roll back laws against child labor from Alabama to Iowa, following in the wake of Biden’s attack on railroad workers.

Hundreds march in solidarity with censured trans Rep. Zooey Zephyr in Missoula, Montana, April 28.

Trans lives, abortion rights under attack

The first big battles of summer 2023 may come during June – LGBTQ2S Pride Month. 

Florida, Tennessee, and other states have passed or will pass broad measures to crack down on Pride celebrations. In Florida, some corporate-sponsored Pride events have already been called off before the measure takes effect for fear of legal liability.

We face the possibility of mass arrests at Pride events, especially targeting trans people and drag artists. A barrage of more than 500 state bills in nearly every U.S. state since the start of this year is attempting to drive trans people out of public life – cutting off life-saving gender-affirming health care for both youths and adults; banning people from using restrooms or playing on sports teams corresponding to their gender; and even making it illegal to be trans in public. 

Across the country, astroturfed “parents groups” are working with right-wing politicians to ban books that tell the truth about queer lives, Black history, and any aspect of U.S. history. Libraries are being defunded, and teachers silenced. Even elected officials who dare to challenge the far right from Montana to Tennessee are being targeted with illegal sanctions that disenfranchise the people who voted for them.

Anti-trans legislation has been accompanied by growing threats and violence on social media and in the streets. Drag story hours and queer events of all kinds are targeted by far-right bigots from the Proud Boys to TERFS and Christian nationalists, often working side-by-side. In response, queer communities and allies from coast-to-coast have mobilized to push back the fascists.

Increasingly, the cry is heard: Pride is a protest! Stonewall was a riot! Pride 2023 is guaranteed to swell the movement of recent years that has demanded a return to the spirit of the Stonewall Rebellion and for cops out of Pride.

After robbing women and other people who can become pregnant of their right to abortion last year, allowing many states to ban the essential medical procedure, the U.S. Supreme Court may soon ban access to the abortion pill nationally. 

Make no mistake: the situation is dangerous. Members of oppressed communities are dying. Millions of workers are living on the edge of disaster.

But the workers and oppressed, the masses of the people, have not yet been heard from. The working class has the power to turn the situation around – not only to halt the fascist advance but to reverse the setbacks and expand people’s rights. It is the job of revolutionary communists and socialists to seize every opportunity to aid the masses in exercising their power. 

Yes, it will be a long, hot summer – and not just because of capitalist-fueled climate change. The bosses and their political stooges are asking for it. Let’s give them hell.

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