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Vol. 80/No. 27      July 25, 2016

(front page)

SWP candidate in Baton Rouge: Capitalism is root
of problem

Militant/Janice Lynn
Socialist Workers Party vice-presidential candidate Osborne Hart, right, speaks with Abdullah Muflahi, owner of store Alton Sterling was shot outside of by Baton Rouge police.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Socialist Workers Party vice-presidential candidate Osborne Hart and campaign supporters spent several days in Baton Rouge participating in protest activities against the July 5 police killing of Alton Sterling here and Philando Castile in Minnesota. (See accompanying article.)

At the demonstrations and on doorsteps they spoke with working people about why police brutality is intertwined with capitalism and why workers need to take political power to put an end to it. The SWP presidential ticket of Alyson Kennedy and Osborne Hart will be filing for ballot status in the state of Louisiana later this month.

At the Triple S convenience store, the site of Sterling’s killing, campaign supporters spoke with store owner Abdullah Muflahi and his cousin, Fahmi Al Mansoob from Bessemer, Alabama. Al Mansoob described several incidents where he had been followed and stopped by the police for no reason.

Muflahi told the Militant how he had faced anti-Muslim harassment while living in Dearborn, Michigan, following the 9/11 attacks and that he thought it is important for us to stick together.

“I see the problem today is not a racial one, but rather rich versus poor,” said Ashley Ferdinand, 32, who is Black and works at Whole Foods, and met Hart at a rally at City Hall July 8. She explained how her family in New Orleans lost everything during Hurricane Katrina and that she had worked overtime at Walmart to help those who had not received any assistance from the government.

Ferdinand told Hart about a protest meeting at Southern University and encouraged him to attend and meet people who would be interested in hearing what the party has to say.

“We don’t have a lot to choose from as far as the elections go. I think Trump scares me more than Clinton. His demeanor and inability to control his rage — you can’t do that as the leader of the free world. We need a Plan B,” Mia Webb, 58, a retired nurse practitioner who is Caucasian, told Hart.

“No matter which one wins the election, the crisis working people face will continue,” Hart replied. “Neither one of them has a solution. It’s working people coming together and joining in solidarity that is the only road forward.”

Many of those Hart and campaigners spoke to got copies of the new book Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege and Learning Under Capitalism. The book notes that tens of thousands have come into the streets to protest police killings and brutality and to demand the arrest and prosecution of the cops responsible over the last several years. This is just one indication of the growing confidence and openness among workers of all nationalities throughout the U.S. to discuss and debate the broadest social and political questions.

Webb was one of those. She liked the title. “That sounds exactly right,” Webb said. “They just paper shuffle and they’re not concerned about what we do every day.”

Campaigners also met Lawrence Mills at his home in Scotlandville in northwest Baton Rouge. Mills, 58, works at Ardent Mills, a flour mill at the port, and is a union steward for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union. “What you’re saying sounds right,” Mills said. “I’ll support you all. It is a struggle for the working class. They need a voice. It’s the middle, the low class person getting hurt by the decisions being made. They don’t ask us. Those who make the decisions don’t have to live on what we get paid.”

Janice Lynn and Lisa Potash contributed to this article.  
Related articles:
Join fight against cop brutality and killings!
Nationwide protests say ‘prosecute the cops’
Philando Castile’s mom: ‘Could be your son tomorrow’
Socialist Workers Party campaign statement: Join fight against cop brutality
Socialist Workers Party campaigns door to door
Workers’ attitudes no different in Sanders’ state
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