Potosi Prison Guards Known as “The Cowboys” Implicated in Torture Ring

potosi

Potosi Correctional Center, which could more accurately be described as the Potosi private torture dungeon, has for the past months or longer been home to a group of rogue prison guards, known as the “cowboys,” who specialize in torture and the denial of medication to inmates. They have intentionally been targeting those involved in the last hunger strike.

The Greater Kansas City IWW General Defense Committee Local 15 has been in contact with multiple inmates in the Potosi correctional center, and have received the same reports on this group that goes by “the cowboys” and their counterparts.

One inmate in particular, Syheim D. El-Mu’min, has been repeatedly harassed and abused by this group. In our correspondence with him, he has sent us these reports of what has been going on, and how people can help:

*On the date of 2/25/14, I was assaulted by Col. Alan M. Yount and an officer – Col. RentFro at the approximate time of 4:30 am. These two officers are a part of a group of rogue officers who go around the prison calling themselves “the cowboys” (I dub them cowards) because they lack the intestinal fortitude to face me as men. These officers hold malicious feelings towards me for filing grievances, writing letters to legislators, and the directors in Jefferson City. So on the date of 2/25/14 at 4:30 am, while in the process of cuffing me up to be escorted to the wings table receive my morning insulin (I’m a diabetic), I was assaulted. As I was complying with their orders to submit to wrist restraints Col. A. Yount applied the wrist restraints on me extremely tight, cutting off the blood circulation in my hands and causing pain to shoot through my arms. They have me on special security orders where I have to wear two pairs of handcuffs – cuffs on my wrist, and leg shackles above my elbows (policy does not support elbow shackles) and leg restraints on my ankles whenever I exit my cell. So I’m pretty much shackled up from head to toe. Anyway, while Col. Yount applied the cuffs extremely tight on me he reached into the food port and grabbed my buttocks. Now he did this to cause me pain because he was aware of an operation I had on 2/24/14 where the doctor had to lance a boil that developed there from build up scar tissue from an old bullet wound. I was bandaged up back there, and when he grabbed me I sort of jumped and that’s when he (Col. Yount) and Col. Rentfro snatched me through the food port by the teeter which was connected to the handcuffs. They then twisted my arms, bending my wrist and hands, cutting my left hand open. Once the cuffs were off I refused to allow them to close the food port until the shift supervisor was there to see what they’d done to me.

*On the date of 2/26/14 at the approximate time of 4:35 am, I was taunted by Col Yount and was denied my morning insulin as well as my breakfast tray.

*On the date of 2/26/14 I filed a PREA complaint under the prison rape & elimination act due to the fact that Col Yount’s actions were inappropriate and could be constituted as sexual in nature since he sadistically and maliciously tried to harm and degrade me.

*On the date of 3/2/14 at the approximate time of 4:35 am while being escorted back to my cell from receiving my insulin. I witnessed a sign on my door scrawled above my name. The sign was derogatory in nature, I snatched the sign off my door and demanded to talk to a “white shirt” – shift supervisor – Col Davis arrived around 8:30 am and the officers who were escorting me showed him the sign. He pretended to review the camera to no avail. He (Col Davis) neglected to contact the proper authorities because the statement was sexual in nature, thus it must be reported in response to the PREA act.

*On the date of 3/3/14 and 3/4/14 I was denied my morning insulin by Col Yount Col Rentfro. I was harassed and taunted throughout their shifts.

*On the date of 3/12/14 I was assaulted by Col. Yount and Col. Duncan. These two officers tried to deny me my morning insulin I refused to put my hands back into the food port until the supervisor arrived. Col Yount refused to call the supervisor and then slammed my hand into the food port closing it.

*On the date of 3/15/14 Col Yount and Col Duncan denied me my morning insulin. Once I exited my cell to have the elbow cuffs applied, Col Yount applied them extremely tight, cutting off the circulation in my arms. I then refused to allow the leg shackles to be applied until the “white shirt” arrived. Well, Col Randazzo arrived and he approved of the unprofessional behavior. The nurse just stood by and refused to step in once I asked him (Nurse Henry Hueffmeier) to check the restraints. Nurse Huffmeier violates the medical autonomy policy because restraints are not to be used to inflict pain nor punishment and it is protocol for medical personnel to check the application and use of the restraints.

To avoid confrontations with these corrupt officers and to prevent a physical altercation with them, I’m having to forego my morning insulin. Their whole objective is to deprive me of my insulin, and I really hate that I’m allowing them to get this off on me. But if I continue to come out, and these officers continue to taunt me, I’m going to be forced to physically defend myself.

In accordance with policy and procedure staff conduct D2-11.10 as well as the PREA protocols, staff who are un-professional in such a manner are not supposed to have contact with someone bringing such complaints against them under PREA. However, Lt. Blair the shift commander and the supervisors Co2 Wilfong, Co2 Randazzo, and Co2 Payne, all are in cohorts with these rogue officers and are a part of this group called the “cowboys.”

As you might have noticed, these incidents occurred around 4:30 am. It’s because the shift these pigs work is from 11:30 pm to 7:30 am. I need for people to contact the director George A. Lombardi (573-526-6607) PO Box 236 Jefferson city, MO 65102, Warden Troy Steele (573-438-6000) as well as the Missouri department of public safety (573-751-4905) or (573-526-7732) and ask to speak to Marc Peoples and bring my PREA issues to his attention. Please tell him I’ve written to them twice in the last couple weeks and I have yet to receive a reply. When you talk to the director and warden or write to them, inquire why these officers are still permitted to have constant contact with me only to continue their abuse.

Also, I have written (and you may too) to representative Paul Fritzwater (573-751-2112) MO state representatives, state capitol – 201 w. capitol ave, Jefferson City, MO 65102 (inquire about these issues I’ve written him about, I hope he got the letter).

1. Director – George Lombardi – (573-526-6607)

2. Inspector General – Chris Pickering – (573-526-6504)

3. Constituent Services – Lisa Jones – (573-526-6530)

4. Deputy Director – David Kost – (573-526-6607)

5. Deputy Zone Director – Dewayne Kemper – (573-522-1926)

can all be mailed at PO Box 236, Jefferson City, MO 63660

6. Warden of Potosi – Troy Steele – (573-438-6000)

7. Asst. Warden of Potosi – Jamie Crump – (573-438-6000)

8. Housing Unit Manager – Thomas Pearson – (573-438-6000)

can all be mailed at P.C.C, 11593 State Hwy D, Mineral Point, MO, 63660



JoNina Abron Ervin’s Assessment of Memphis Anti-Klan Demo 3-30-13

Part II: Report, Anti-Klan Demonstration, March 30, 2013, Memphis, TN.

Why the People protested in the rain, Why the Klan came to Memphis.

by JoNina Ervin, Acting Chair, Memphis Black Autonomy Federation

Defeat For Mayor A C Wharton

The most significant outcome of Saturday’s demonstration was that at least 1,200 people (according to estimates by local mainstream news media), the majority of them Memphis residents, defied Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and came downtown in pouring rain to protest against the Klan. The fact that so many people came to the anti-Klan protest is very important when you consider the following:

For several days prior to the KKK rally, “Boss” Wharton, assisted by his cronies on the city council, in civil rights, religious, and white liberal groups, flooded the local media with the message that Memphis residents should “ignore” the Klan and stay away from downtown on March 30. Instead, the mayor and his sycophants urged people to come to an “alternative” event sponsored by the mayor, big business, and civil rights, religious groups and others, billed as the “Heart of Memphis.” This event featured an Easter egg hunt for children, free food, workshops and other activities. It was by no means a protest against the Klan but was billed as a “celebration” of the city’s cultural “diversity.” (Memphis is about 65 percent black. It is not a culturally diverse city!) The not-so-subtle message of the mayor’s propaganda campaign, which was promoted by the mainstream media, was that people who wanted to protest against the Klan were “troublemakers.”

The mayor got about 1,500 people at his event, according to local news media—only about 300 more people than attended the anti-Klan protest. Instead of ignoring the Klan, hundreds of people in Memphis ignored the mayor! This was a major defeat for Wharton.

Why Applying for a Permit Was Important

I want to clarify issues concerning the permit obtained on behalf of the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality for the Anti-Klan demonstration. The Memphis Memphis Black Autonomy Federation created the coalition with the initial purpose of organizing a multiracial counter-demonstration against the Klan. Since July, 2012, MBAF has held three demonstrations and several other actions against police brutality in Memphis, where 14 people have died at the hands of the police since January, 2012. The majority of our protests were held in front of Memphis City Hall. One was held in front of the headquarters of the Memphis Police Department, and one was held in front of a police precinct office. All these protests were held at government offices, where citizens have First Amendment rights to protest.

When MBAF’s earlier protests were held, the city council was the primary authority for approving “parade” permits. However, two weeks before the Klan’s rally, the city council passed a new ordinance granting the police director virtually the sole authority to approve permits. MBAF believes that the new ordinance is unconstitutional. In order to have legal grounds to later challenge the ordinance in court, we filed for a permit. We also believed that since police director Toney Armstrong approved the white terrorist Klan’s request for a permit to spew its racist hatred, then the Ida B.Wells Coalition had a right for a permit to denounce the Klan’s bigotry.

Although not impossible, it much more difficult for a group like the coalition, which does not have non-profit status, to be granted a permit for a march and rally than it is for a non-profit group.

Power To The People, Inc., a 501 c(3) non-profit organization, with which my husband Lorenzo and I have worked for several years, applied for the permit on behalf of the Ida B. Wells Coalition.

The coalition had to apply three times before our permit was approved. Our initial request to the city permits office was for a First Amendment rally from noon to 2 p.m. on March 30 front of city hall, which is a couple of blocks from the Shelby County Courthouse, the site of the Klan’s rally, that was scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. The head of the permits office told us that we had to first submit our application to the Downtown Memphis Commission. We were told that the commission manages the Mid-America Mall in front of city hall. We did not understand why such a group would have any authority over First Amendment protests.

The commission denied our request, claiming that a religious group was having a cultural program in front of city hall at the time we requested for our rally. We did not believe that any such program was going to be held, and that it was fabricated by city officials to prevent the coalition from having our protest. In our second request for a permit, we applied to have a rally in front of the courthouse. That request was also denied. We were told that anti-Klan groups would be restricted to the east side of the courthouse. So, we filed a third permit, which was granted on March 28, We also learned that day about the draconian security measures imposed by the police department, which included closing off several areas in the downtown area near the courthouse. One of those areas was the Mid-America Mall area in front of city hall—where we had been told there would be a cultural event at the time we had originally requested to use it. This was our proof that city officials lied to us when they said the area had previously been reserved.

MBAF believed that other groups would file permits for counter-demonstrations. However, this turned out not to be the case. Consequently, had the coalition not filed for a permit, no one would have been able to come, and there would have been no counter-protests. Tactically, we did the only thing that we could to protect our rights. We still need to sue city the government to get rid of the unconstitutional regulations allowing the police department to control and approve political protests and arrest people on a summary basis for “illegal assembly.”

Why The Klan Protested

by Lorenzo Komboa Ervin

The Klan is trying to re-establish its presence in Memphis. A couple of months ago, KKK fliers were circulated in east Memphis, where the largest concentration of white people live. The overwhelming majority of people in Memphis who have suffered economically during the last five years are black. However, Memphis does have a white poor and working population living on the east side of the city, some ex-factory workers and others who might be won over to the Klan, and who hate being reduced to poverty under a black president. These neighborhoods are well-to-do in comparison with most black areas that are basically ignored. However, these white middle neighborhoods are slipping into poverty, and the Klan says that black people, from Obama on down, are responsible for taking what the “white man is entitled to and giving it to them (blacks).”

The Klan has always had its way with the racist Confederacy preservation movement, founded by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. SOCV has been able to get every Memphis city administration since 1904 to finance and maintain the “white history “parks, while Dr. Martin Luther King jR. just got a street named for him by Memphis city government in 2011, some 44 years after the fact, and Ida B. Wells, 19th century Black journalist, feminist, anti-racist, anti-lynching advocate and co-founder of the NAACP has yet to have anything but a plaque in a muddy field in a economically depressed ghetto area.

The Klan feels that it is their right to have white supremacy and Confederate civil war symbols, as a matter of protecting white civil rights, and they are mobilizing in the white community with the idea of organizing an urban Klavern, a Klan chapter for a region. They have a unique opportunity because of so many years of collaboration between city officials and the Klan leaders. At first, this was to ensure tranquility from the racists who would not engage in violence against Blacks in the city, nor lead disruptive protests. All this was fine until 1998, when they protested Dr. Martin Luther Kings birthday in January 1998. The resulting uproar even caused the SOCV to demand that they stop holding demonstrations in the ciyt, just come to the parks for racist ceremonies, and this was the case until the 2004 Centennial celebration took place and it leaked into the news media. In early 2005,750 Black activists led by brothers Walter and D’Army Bailey, along with Al Sharpton, national civil rights leader, held a rally at the N.B. Forrest park downtown demanding that the Confederate parks be closed down, and that Forrest’s remains be returned to either his family or a private cemetery, and that his likeness on a horse statute be put in mothballs or dismantled. Mayor Herenton refused to honor their demands, although he did move the statute out of the downtown area.

In 2013, the Klan is split into various factions, and could only muster 63 Klan and Nazi members to come to Memphis. although truthfully, they do have several thousand members nationwide, and are starting to grow again. We cannot depend on their weaknesses and mistakes to bail us out for the weakness of the anti-racist movement. We also must understand that it is the state and its police forces which are the greatest threat of fascism to our community. A Black city government mobilized over 600 cops, 4 armored personnel carriers, police in body armor, armed with submachineguns, and other deadly weapons, all armed to the teeth to protect the Klan against the people.

We must continue to fight against racism and police brutality, continue to build our movement, combat illegal counter-insurgency measures to stop us, and develop allies all over the country. We must have this movement active and fighting against police brutality, unemployment and poverty of (especially Black) workers and the poor, the of government revenues for the poor and workers, to stop the destruction of collective bargaining, and to stop racial profiling of Black and other peoples of color, in addition to combating the Klan. We must make the Ida B. Wells coalition into a national coalition, or at lest a regional coalition of midwestern and southern activists, if we want to Change Memphis and the rest of this area.

If you or your group are interested in joining the coalition, please contact us in care of the Memphis Black Autonomy Federation, P.O. Box 16382, Memphis, TN 38186-0382, email organize,.the.hood@gmail.com.



Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin’s Assessment of Memphis Anti-Klan Demo 3-30-13

OK, for all those who could not come to Saturday’s anti-Klan demonstration, and for those who did come and could not see the full picture, I have finally published my account of the event. It is called “Memphis Anti-Klan Demonstration: Protesting in a Police State.” JoNina Ervin will publish her account as part two called: “Why the People Came, and Stood out in the rain”. There will be other accounts, as well as video coming or have been already posted individually. Although tiring to write, we understand the importance of such accounts, especially since the Memphis media refused to report at all the anti-Klan protest, favoring instead the Klan’s weak turnout, and the police department’s armed camp approach to “Keep the peace.” These are government proaganda organs, which function as a megaphone for the Mayor and the police. They cover up police murders, corruption, and any radical organzing by our group. We do not expect the truth from them, and when it seeps out, such as the number of protesters at 1,200 people, it is news itself.

To grasp what happened at the March 30, 2013 Klan demonstration, you need to understand what led up to everything. The Klan said it came to Memphis to protest the renaming of the racist Memphis Confederate Parks system. Of course, all police preparations and media reporting claimed that the cops “had” to create a downtown police security zone of 10-12 square blocks to “keep the peace”, and not repeat the so-called anti-Klan “riot” of 1998, which was blamed on protesters then, but actually was a police riot as a result of an order by then-Mayor Willie Herenton to gas and beat protesters because they were approaching the Klan through breaks in the police line.

So, using that mantra of “preventing a riot”, and also the media propaganda that this was a “new” Klan group, in response to critics who asked why the Klan was being allowed to protest at all, they put together a police army of 600 cops, 4 military armored cars with machine guns, a chain link fence to separate protesters from Klan, and confine the residents of Memphis behind a line of paramilitary riot police was used to “protect” the Klan from the people. Of course, the obvious reflection was that this even happened over 15 years ago and that the anti-Klan protest movement was “new” as well, did not penetrate the prevailing myth circulated by the cops and the lapdog media.

Our movement, the Memphis Black Autonomy Federation, had created a broad-based group called the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality to bring out Memphis residents, but also anti-fascist activists from throughout the Southern and Midwestern regions. We tried at first to have a meeting at city hall, but this was refused by a groups of businessmen, then the city permit office refused a permit for the same area as the Klan, which was at the courthouse itself, just a few hours before. Then, the cops wanted to not allow any more than 100 people from the community come to the event, but we fought that, and they apparently allowed everyone to go in, including white supremacist supporters and anti-Klan activists. This latter decision was a recipe for disaster, we felt, and we did not initially feel that it would be safe to go inside. If someone got to fighting a Klan supporter, they could be shot and we all would have been in danger. We decided to press on anyway.

If we had not applied for the city parade permit, no one would have been allowed to protest at all, and we would not have even known of their security plans at all. Only because we kept prodding the city to back off on at least some of its security precautions, did they agree to allow the protest. They then issued the permit at the last minute, and the lapdog media dutifully reported it, including the city’s denial that it had ever denied our permits. This little media report would prove to be the undoing of the city’s plans for total denial of the event, and its plans of discouraging any protest through media saturation by the Mayor and government officials who time and again tried to frighten, scold, and intimidate people from coming down to an anti-Klan event. Just the fact that people knew that there was going to be a protest made them come down to the event, even if they were totally unfamiliar with our movement.

The day before the event we were concerned about being pushed into a “protest pit” as was done at many other events in other cities and was used to crush the anti-globalization movement, and because the original plan called for us all to be shoved into a small space on the side of the courthouse itself, we decided that it would be a threat to our security to go in that space, and we called for an activist General Assembly at a nearby park, which was outside the police protest zone, to discuss options. So about 150 of us met at Court Square park, and talked about going to the Forrest Park and attacking the statute itself, but then the cops came up and told us that we “had” to go to the “security zone, and we feigned going there, but in fact we had prepared a number of signs saying “Cops Stifle Free Speech!”, and about 150 of us marched down to police lines and protested the police state methods of controlling the protest. The cops were perplexed, and a small number of them tried to chase us around or steer us into the barbed wire area, but we refused to go. It was a standoff, but they did not arrest anybody or beat us up. It was clear that they did not want to break their ranks to try to arrest all of us, so we took advantage of the moment and kept protesting. Then we moved towards the park, but there was a split between those who wanted to go inside the police lines, and those who did not. The group started splintering. After much soul searching, we decided we would go inside. So we headed for the entrance, and many followed us. The cops had everybody head through TSA style metal detectors, empty our pockets, and searched us. They seized all papers, pamphlets, protest signs, and denied you entry if you were wearing “radical” t-shirts of Che Guevara or Huey Newton, but also Jefferson Davis or N.B. Forrest attire. They seized our bullhorns, but returned one of them as we were entering the event.

When we got inside, everyone seemed subdued, and there was no chanting or screaming, everyone was just looking for signs of the Klan to show. The Klan was kept 2-3 football fields away from us, who were behind barbed wire. There was a long line of riot police inside arrayed as a gauntlet we had to pass, then there were police snipers on the roof, and a line of police standing across from us, about five deep and then others on horseback. They never moved for five hours, just stared ahead at us in military formation.

What made us feel good about going inside is that there was in fact a large number of people already inside waiting on us. They kept streaming in. These were not the usual white middle class activists or the old civil rights deadheads, these were working class Black people of every age. They were angry as hell because the Mayor had brought these “Ku Klux Kowards” to town, and had put us behind barbed wire and coddled the Klan. The Klan came on special city buses, only about 60 of them, which contained riot police and a special security wing of Memphis police and Shelby County Sheriffs.

The anti-Klan protesters were not intimidated by the cops or the Klan. When we began shouting “the cops and the Klan work hand-in-hand!”, everybody came to life and shouted it for hours. They then started talking to us about how they felt about a Black government and police chief working with the Ku Klux Klan. Most were clear that Klan was in town to make the city government back off on its plan to rename the Confederate parks, which the Klan saw as just the first step of closing it down. I heard over and over a constant refrain that the politicians were treating the people like the criminal, instead of the Ku lux Klan, and that they were protecting the Klan’s First Amendment “rights”, while taking away those of Black community residents. They were seething with anger over it.

A month’s worth of propaganda in newspaper, television and radio by the Mayor, bootlicking political preachers, civil rights sellouts, corrupt businessmen and bankers did not work. This entire misdirection campaign, which cost several hundred thousand dollars, bombarded the community with a constant refrain all day long with one message: “don’t go down to the anti-Klan protest, just ignore them and stay home”, simply did not work. The mayor even set up a diversionary event at the Memphis Fairgrounds that included watermelon and fried chicken, and it appears many went and ate his food, and then came to our event downtown. The Mayor did get 1,500 people at his event, but it was a defeat of his overall program. Before the day was over, there would be at least 1,200 people arriving in the space we were forced into, and truthfully it may have been more, that figure came from the capitalist media. We defeated the purposes of the politicians and the cops as well to neutralize the anti-Klan event, the people were there and they were pissed. In fact, it all backfired, now we know that Black people and white activists can work together in Memphis around anti-racist and anti-police brutality campaigns, (since 200 anti-racist whites also attended, the majority from our anti-Klan coalition, who also understood that the Klan is a threat to everybody). We know that, in particular, there are forces in the Memphis Black community that won’t not tricked, intimidated, or are willing to be driven off by the police or the fascist Klan either by threats of violence. This is important, that the people are not beaten down, they just need a movement that will stand up and give them a voice.

Beside demanding to know why the Klan was even allowed to organize in a majority Black city, and coddled in such a fashion by Black politicians and the police, the next thing they wanted to know is who is going to pay for all this police overtime, these high-tech weapons purchases, leasing of equipment, and other items, which amounts to over $1.5 million dollars minimum? Everyone I spoke to was pissed about that, and promised to address it with the city government. We therefore may have a mass protest at city council chambers or the Mayor’s office to demand an accounting, and that the Klan be charged for everything. We also are going to conduct a future campaign against the racist Confederate Park system, and the complete dismantling of the grave of Nathan Bedford Forrest and the removal of his statute into mothballs and his remains turned over to his family or placed in a private cemetery. Finally we demand that the Forrest park be named after Ida B. Wells, the first real civil rights leader in Memphis, a feminist, anti-racist, anti-lynching advocate, Black rights organizer who would go on to co-found the NAACP.

This event was a huge defeat for the Klan and city politicians, people stood 5-6 hours out in rainy weather just to protest the coming of the Klan. In the end, after the Klan left, cops had to threaten to arrest everybody before people would even leave. They never got to see or hear the Klan, they were kept too far away, and blocked by the police. I had stood so long and marched around the police perimeter that my legs were literally cramped, and I could hardly walk. Yet, despite much confusion and many mistakes, I felt satisfied that we had successfully held the event and the people came, even with all the difficulties to do the protest, and despite all the media whiteout afterwards.

The lapdog media actually denied any such anti-Klan event took place, they just reported on the Klan and the cops’ 600-man army massed to keep the people under control. But we know that we were there, and we know what we saw and accomplished, and nothing will take that away. No lying state media, or army can stop an idea whose time has come. Death to the Klan!



Solidarity Statement for Let’s Organize the Hood! and the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality

Whereas JoNina and Lorenzo Ervin have continuously and repeatedly, throughout their lifetimes, and with various organizations, supported groups of self-determined people in improving their own communities through their own direct action,

Whereas these individuals and groups actively work toward eradicating racism by conducting anti-racist training workshops and refusing to allow neither overt nor tacit racism to go unchecked,

Whereas these individuals and groups understand and support solidarity unionism and recognize the importance of engaging in anti-racist activities to building a larger solidarity movement among the working class,

Be it therefore resolved that the Greater Kansas City Branch of the IWW offers solidarity and support in the following ways;

*We will, as we are able, individually and as a branch, actively participate in JoNina and Lorenzo Ervin’s organizational activities that are in accord with our own bylaws, constitution, and goals.

*We will add Let’s Organize the Hood! and the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality to the “Regional Friends and Family” section of the Greater Kansas City GMB web site and will use GKCIWW media resources to promote the organization and their activities that are in accord with our own bylaws, constitution, and goals.

*Members, friends, and affiliations of these individuals and groups are welcome to approach GKCIWW members to request assistance with any workplace issues they may be facing. There will be no charge for consultations and we will at no time attempt to place ourselves in an advantaged position in order to aggressively recruit members.



Statement of Solidarity with STOP the Killing KC

Passed by the Greater Kansas City GMB on November 17th, 2012

Whereas STOP the Killing KC is a self-determined movement of people improving their own communities through their own direct action,

Whereas STOP the Killing KC has made a commitment to halt the violence and murder that is catastrophic to families and communities, unify communities, get young people involved in their communities, provide transitional housing, feed 40 +/- children daily at their safe house at 2139 Askew, offer after school homework assistance throughout the week, engage in street intervention, provide employment and training assistance, provide public safety through direct action, offer classes,
workshops, and activities on anger management, anti-crime, mentoring, community social skills, conflict management, international cooking, and more,

Be it therefor resolved that the Greater Kansas City Branch of the IWW offers solidarity and support in the following ways;

*We will, as we are able, individually and as a branch, actively participate in STOP the Killing KC’s activities that are in accord with our own bylaws, constitution, and goals.

*We will add STOP the Killing KC to the “Local Friends and Family” section of the Greater Kansas City GMB web site and will use GKCIWW media resources to promote the organization and their activities that are in accord with our own bylaws, constitution, and goals.

*Members, friends, and affiliations of STOP the Killing KC are welcome to approach GKCIWW members to request assistance with any workplace issues they may be facing. There will be no charge for consultations and we will at no time attempt to “raid” STOP the Killing KC for members.



Statement of Solidarity with TYCOR

Passed by the Greater Kansas City GMB on November 17th, 2012

Whereas TYCOR is a not-for-profit which recognizes and supports the will of self-determined people to improve their own conditions through the Annual Harvest Moon American Indian Festival and other activities,

Whereas the founder of TYCOR has spent a lifetime engaging in the people’s struggle beginning with the Civil Rights movement, has provided years of support and continues to provide support to the Osage Tribe and the community surrounding 31st and Troost, and in the words of Father Paisius of Reconciliation Services, TYCOR’s Annual Harvest Moon American Indian Festival “continues to
shatter stereotypes of Urban Indians in the Kansas City and other areas as well as educating the public about the positive cultural aspects of Native American life”,

Be it therefor resolved that the Greater Kansas City Branch of the IWW offers solidarity and support in the following ways;

*We will, as we are able, individually and as a branch, actively participate in TYCOR’s and the Annual Harvest Moon American Indian Festival’s activities that are in accord with our own bylaws, constitution, and goals.

*We will add TYCOR and the Annual Harvest Moon American Indian Festival to the “Local Friends and Family” section of the Greater Kansas City GMB web site and will use GKCIWW media resources to promote the organization and their activities that are in accord with our own bylaws, constitution, and goals.

*Members, friends, and affiliations of TYCOR and the Annual Harvest Moon American Indian Festival are welcome to approach GKCIWW members to request assistance with any workplace issues they may be facing. There will be no charge for consultations and we will at no time attempt to “raid” TYCOR or the Annual Harvest Moon American Indian Festival for members.



Statement of Solidarity with Community United

Passed by the Greater Kansas City GMB on November 17th, 2012

Whereas Community United is a coalition which includes groups of self-determined people improving their own communities through their own direct action,

Whereas Community United started a jobs training program, reading program, budgeting programs, and a safe space with computers and mentors for kids in Vineyard Gardens, started a tenants’ association and made a safe space with workshops and activities for kids in Charlie Parker Square, fed over 5000 families at 9th and Prospect, set up a housing program where people coming out of jail or off the streets were given the opportunity to work on a house and learn skills and also move into some of the houses they worked on, continually engage in neighborhood clean-ups, community projects, mentoring programs, after school programs, training programs, and feeding programs, helped establish Troost Fest, established a peace summit between the gangs in Kansas City, and more,

Be it therefor resolved that the Greater Kansas City Branch of the IWW offers solidarity and support in the following ways;

*We will, as we are able, individually and as a branch, actively participate in Community United’s activities that are in accord with our own bylaws, constitution, and goals.

*We will add Community United to the “Local Friends and Family” section of the Greater Kansas City GMB web site and will use GKCIWW media resources to promote the organization and their activities that are in accord with our own bylaws, constitution, and goals.

*Members, friends, and affiliations of Community United are welcome to approach GKCIWW members to request assistance with any workplace issues they may be facing. There will be no charge for consultations and we will at no time attempt to “raid” Community United for members.



Greater Kansas City IWW Presents Anti-Racist Organizer Training

This event is cosponsored by Occupy Kansas City and Open Doors Inc. Please contact us or donate on our Indiegogo page to help fund this training http://www.indiegogo.com/antiracistkc/x/954189

Subject: Grassroots Organizer Training Program:

Anti Racist Boot Camp, including: Let’s Organize The Hood!: A talk to Black/People of Color Organizers about urban organizing, and dealing with the effects of racism.

Training community based organizers is extremely important and vital to a grassroots organization, yet there is this mythology that “anyone can be an organizer, and you don’t need training to be an anti-racist organizer.” This is a dangerous delusion, and leaves an organization vulnerable to stifled campaigns by untrained and undeveloped activists who make mistake after mistake. None of this is to say that one has to be a “professional organizer” for a mainstream organization which depends entirely on corporate grants.

Yet, it is not enough for an organizer to know what to do, but why and how to do it, and to get others to help you to do it. To know practical, grassroots organizer theory and tactics that can advance your organization and its public mission is important. For over 15 years, ”Let’s Organize the Hood!” has conducted a series of trainings, which teach organizers for small grassroots and progressive movements how to fight city hall and win, and how to build local mass movements against racism, police brutality, and for tenants rights, transit rights, and other contemporary protest issues. “Let’s Organize the Hood” combines organizer training, personal reflections of past activism, and discussion of local social problems. The workshops are challenging, but also fun and thought provoking.

Lorenzo E. Ervin and his wife, JoNina Abron-Ervin, are the primary trainers for “Let’s Organize the Hood!” Together and individually, they have also been practical grassroots organizers, with literally 90 years of activist experience within the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, the Black Power movement (1967-1975), Attica era prison struggles, as well as anti-racist and police brutality campaigns, and the voting rights campaign of the 1980’s in Chattanooga, which changed the structure of city government, and allowed African Americans to effectively hold political office. They have also been involved in various human rights campaigns in other cities: Chicago, Southwest Michigan, and Nashville, Tennessee.

Lorenzo Ervin and JoNina Abron-Ervin live in Memphis, Tennessee, and are involved in plans to create a Black community organizer training center, The Ida B. Wells Institute for Black Community Organizing; are a key part of the campaign for building a Memphis Bus Riders Union, a civil rights movement concerned with transit issues; and are working to host a national Black organizers conference in Memphis on May 26, 2012.

About Lorenzo E. Ervin

Lorenzo Ervin, a native of Chattanooga, has been an activist since 1960, when the sit-in movement against racial segregation arrived in Chattanooga. He credits those events with radicalizing him and affirming in his mind that he would be a grassroots organizer throughout his life. In the 1960’s, he became part of movements like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Black Panther Party, and was later hounded and railroaded to prison, where he was confined as a political prisoner for 15 years. Lorenzo, Maxine Cousin and Annie Thomas led the Concerned Citizens for Justice, which led the mass movement against racism and police brutality in Chattanooga in the 1980’s, and later with other groups into the 1990’s. Lorenzo did the legal research and recruited the attorneys for the 1987 filing of the Brown v. Chattanooga Board of Commissioners federal voting rights lawsuit, which not only changed the structure of city government, but also made it possible for more Black people to serve in city government. [Note: Only one Black person had been elected to city political office in 80 years because of the racist government structure]. Lorenzo remained active in Chattanooga until 1999 when he moved to Michigan, Chicago, and later moved to Nashville, Tennessee. While there, he became active in a group called Power to the People, which organized around racist murders of prison inmates, including a young Black woman murdered in the city prison, and two youth choked to death by guards at the (former) Chad Youth Enhancement Center in Asheville City, Tennessee. He currently resides in Memphis, TN. He has been a member of the IWW on two previous occasions, during the 1970’s, and the late 1980’s, and for years has been one of the leading grassroots anti-racist activists and theorists in this country.

About JoNina Abron-Ervin

JoNina Abron-Ervin is a journalist, author and veteran African-American activist. Since 1972, she has worked in numerous social justice movements and organizations. She was a member of the Black Panther Party for nearly a decade (1972-1981) and was the last editor of the Black Panther newspaper. She was later the co-chair of the Far West Region of the National Black Independent Political Party and served on the organization’s central committee.

A co-founder of the Southwest Michigan Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality, JoNina led the group’s campaign from 2000 to 2003 to stop African- American men in Kalamazoo, Michigan, from being stripped naked while in jail. The coalition also created a statewide movement against the use of racial profiling by Michigan police officers and held a rally against racial profiling at the Michigan state capitol in Lansing. Later, after moving to Chicago, she was a member of the defense committee for Aaron Patterson, a Black former Illinois death row inmate and community activist, who was falsely convicted of felony charges after his efforts to organize against corruption in the administration of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

With her husband, Lorenzo, JoNina was an activist in the Midwest Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers in a number of campaigns against racism and police brutality, most notably the 2003 demonstration in Benton Harbor, Michigan. to protest racism and the brutal death of a Black man by traffic police. From 2007 to 2009, JoNina coordinated publicity for a campaign to stop the mistreatment of youth at the (former) Chad Youth Enhancement Center in Ashland City, Tennessee, where two African American teenagers died at the hands of staff members. JoNina is currently an organizer for the Memphis Bus Riders Union, an organization that advocates for the civil rights of the predominantly black and low income bus riders in Memphis, Tennessee.

JoNina is the author of Driven by the Movement: Activists of the Black Power Era (2011), a new book about 20 African American social justice activists during the decade of 1965-1975.

480 minutes: The Progressive Plantation: Racism inside white social change movements.(There will be 90 minutes of discussion after this session).

Because it is the poor and oppressed racial and cultural groups who are on the bottom of society, all white radical social change movements must have anti-racist consciousness at the core of their work. There is also the issue of white radicals taking advantage of white privilege social issues to further oppress communities of color. This workshop breaks ground in centering anti-racism in terms of social structure and decolonizing predominantly white social movements, instead of dealing with the “prejudice in the heads of white people.” Many times, white radical social change movements, even that dealing with anti-racist ideology wind up replicating new form of racial domination and internal oppression. We need to talk about how to defeat this.

Here is what we will discuss in the Anti Racist Boot Camp:

ANALYZING & UNDERSTANDING SYSTEMIC RACISM –

Intensive 2 day workshop for those ready to look more deeply at racism.

• Learn about systems of oppression and privilege in a collective liberation framework
• Develop an understanding of white supremacy along with capitalism, imperialism, internal colonization of peoples of color, the mass psychology of fascism, mass imprisonment of peoples of color, and the current police terrorism (racial profiling) by the state against youth of color.
• Learn about histories of resistance and liberation of peoples of color, including colonization and ghetto-ization of communities of peoples of color and indigenous peoples, and about their movements today, and why new social movements continue to have internal racism and other social problems today in their relationships with POC, which require de-colonization of white social movements and the larger society.
• Learn about organizing and develop organizing skills in areas totally neglected by white-led social movements, and how an inter-racial movement is possible, but how it has to avoid co-opting and using POC to push a white radical agenda, instead of developing honest relations with activists of color. ANTIRACISM TEAM FORMATION – for institutions ready to take on racism in their own organizations. We will train and equip teams(also known as “Caucuses” to identify and dismantle internal barriers to justice and create new antiracist/anti‐oppressive policies, practices and procedures. It is not enough to have good intentions or to give lip service about “we are not a racist organization”, there must be struggle and long-term work to transform the group. Teams of POC and Anti-Racist Caucus members must work together to deal with racism and white supremacy in organizations, its social mission, and its actual organizing and campaigns. It is necessary to transform the entire organization for this to work, not just a branch or group of organizers alone, except that they will be the initial teams.

120 Minutes (with 45-60 minutes of discussion): Let’s Organize the Hood: A talk to African American/POC organizers

1. The effects of racism in America on POC, and inside white-led social change movements. How do I fight against racism inside such groups and avoid being isolated or negatively labeled?

2. Building a movement to fight against police brutality, racial profiling of Black youth.

3. How to fight poverty and unemployment inside communities of color, and force the local and national government to support your community.

4. Why Blacks and POC should still have autonomous movements, even if they work with white led movements.

5. More.



Black Friday Songs for Walmart Workers

Click to hear MP3 of “Workers Unite”

Sung to the tune of “Joy to the World”

Workers unite, stand up and fight
Hold hands, and organize!
The owners do not care for you.
They don’t think you will dare to do,
The only thing that works,
Collective barganing,
Direct Action all in solidarity.

Profits are high, and wages low.
They work you to the bone.
They call you in then send you home.
To make ends meet you take a loan.
You can’t afford the rent,
You’re left without a cent.
The fat cat exploits your work and cashes in.

Greed is the only thing they know.
Health care, good pay, denied.
When Walmart workers need the state
to help them put food on their plate.
We need to say no more,
Just walk on out the door.
They can’t keep their profits up without your hand.

Workers unite, stand up and fight
Hold hands, and organize!
The owners do not care for you.
They don’t think you will dare to do,
The only thing that works,
Collective barganing,
Direct Action all in solidarity.

-FW Tony

Click to hear MP3 of “Walmart Bosses”

Sung to the tune of “What Are You Going to Do With a Drunken Sailor”

What we gonna do with the Walmart bosses
What we gonna do with the Walmart bosses
What we gonna do with the Walmart bosses
early in the mornin’

work us to the bone say the Walmart bosses
work us to the bone say the Walmart bosses
work us to the bone say the Walmart bosses
early in the mornin’

money for your toil say the Walmart bosses
money for your toil say the walmart bosses
money for your toil say the walmart bosses
early in the mornin’

we can’t orga-nize say the Walmart bosses
we can’t orga-nize say the Walmart bosses
we can’t orga-nize say the Walmart bosses
early in the mornin’

we don’t need a home say the Walmart bosses
we don’t need a home say the Walmart bosses
we don’t need a home say the walmart bosses
early in the mornin’

“sick means we’re fired” say the walmart bosses
“sick means we’re fired” say the walmart bosses
“sick means we’re fired” say the walmart bosses
early in the mornin’

“col-lect your foodstamps” say the Walmart bosses
“col-lect your foodstamps” say the Walmart bosses
“col-lect your foodstamps” say the Walmart bosses
early in the mornin’

“good-bye when you die” say the Walmart bosses
“good-bye when you die” say the Walmart bosses
“good-bye when you die” way the Walmart bosses
early in the morning

“the’ll be no light of day” say the Walmart bosses
“the’ll be no light of day” say the Walmart bosses
“the’ll be no light of day” say the Walmart bosses
early in the mornin’

“the court’s on our side” say the Walmart bosses
“the court’s on our side” say the Walmart bosses
“the court’s on our side” say the Walmart bosses
early in the mornin’

“we fight from hell and back” say the Walmart bosses
“we fight from hell and back” say the Walmart bosses
“we fight from hell and back” say the Walmart bosses
early in the mornin’

-Joe Hillbilly

Click to hear MP3 of “Raising Their Wage”

Sung to the tune of “Blowing in the Wind”

How many folks must give up their day
so stores can profit from stuff?
How many people must work like a slave
‘Cause their paychecks are just not enough?

The answer my friend is raising their wage
the answer is raising their wage

How much cheap goods can one store sell
before people give up the greed?
How much return can one store gain
before they see people in need?

The answer my friend is raising their wage
the answer is raising their wage.

How can we stand and watch people scrape
while others lap up luxuries?
How can we watch these employees toil
When people should mean more than greed?

The answer my friend is raising their wage
the answer is raising their wage

-Rosemarie

Click to hear MP3 of “Don’t Rest Ye Wealthy Walmart Boss”

Sung to the tune of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

Don’t rest Ye’ wealthy Walmart Boss
No sleep you earn this day
We organize these stores to say
demands for higher pay
in flames of fire you will retire
your bold and greedy ways
oOh, fight-us to compensate no more
fighting for more!
we are fi-gh-ting
for all the Walmart stores

Don’t rest Ye’ wealthy Walmart Boss
No sleep you earn this day
the markets up our wages low
“no pain-no gain” you say
You cut us down through flesh and bone
Your royal status flayed
oOh, fight-us to compensate no more
fighting for more!
we are fi-gh-ting
for all the Walmart stores

Don’t rest Ye’ wealthy Walmart Boss
No sleep you earn this day
you keep us down in misery
with poverty for bread
you feel your retail life-blood boil
“the bottom line?” you pray!
oOh, fight-us to compensate no more
fighting for more!
we are fi-gh-ting
for all the Walmart stores

Don’t rest Ye’ wealthy Walmart Boss
No sleep you earn this day
We cringe no longer at your feet
your class-act goes away!
create this ceiling made of glass
Now shatters to the floor
oOh, fight-us to compensate no more
fighting for more!
we are fi-gh-ting
for all the Walmart stores

-Joe Hillbilly



Open Letter Regarding Walmart

In an era when the world’s largest employer pays its American workforce an average of $8.18/hour, it would be hard to argue the need to patronize Walmart – with its advertisement of “Always low prices – Always.”

While it might be true the price of certain goods and services come at a discount, one needs to consider the hidden costs of patronizing the retail giant. This multi-billionaire conglomerate complements the artificially low wages of their “associates” by directing them to various local, state and federal agencies for assistance. Where Walmart fails in its moral obligation to pay a living wage in exchange for an honest day’s work, John Q. Public is left to pick up the tab. When you consider employees must rely on taxpayers to fund benefits that could easily be born by the employer, are you really only paying the sticker price for that flatscreen TV or loaf of bread or haircut or oil change or banking transaction or bottle of medicine or fluffy pink bunny rabbit slippers?

Did you know Walmart is now under investigation for wage theft? It’s true. According to Mark Huffman’s CONSUMER AFFAIRS article dated October 23, 2012, temporary workers in Chicago have filed suit against Walmart and two temp agencies, Labor Ready and QPS. In it, the plaintiffs allege the retailer “forced temps to appear early for work, stay late to complete work, work through lunches and breaks and participate in trainings without compensation, a violation of federal law.” This is only one of 7,000 like lawsuits filed in 2011, a 400% increase in the last eleven years, according to a recent post at CNN Money.

To show that Walmart has not lost its sense of humor, David Tovar, a spokesman for the retail giant said the company filed unfair labor practice charges against United Food and Commercial Workers for unlawfully disrupting business. “We are taking this action now because we cannot allow the UFCW to continue to intentionally seek to create an environment that could directly and adversely impact our customers and associates. If they do, they will be held accountable.”

To borrow from a popular American expression, “Really? Really? Seriously?”, I hope you can appreciate, at least half as much as I do, this new, comedic descent into madness. What did they think was going to happen? Did they actually believe that in this new millenium, that workers would just wring their hands and pray for deliverance? That is not the American Way. We are a just and hard-working people and we don’t stand idly by while giants of industry trample our basic fundamental human right to dignity and respect on the job. You would think Occupy Wall Street would have at the very least, taught them that.

The time is ripe for the collective action of the workers and the will of the American consumer to join together to bring Walmart back into the continental borders of the United States of America. This is not the wild west, nor is it Nazi Germany and Walmart isn’t a gun-slinging ranchero fighting for liberty and justice for all. It is a criminal corporate enterprise that has so far paid billions of dollars to settle out of court for its malfeasance. It had a good run and now the people want their money back.

It’s time we support Walmart workers in their legal right to a democratic voice in the decisions that affect their lives by visiting www.makingchangeatwalmart.org.

Tino Scalici, Ford Worker
Kansas City, MO