BY ALARIC DIRMEYER
SAN FRANCISCO - With the Young Socialists convention arriving quickly, YS members in San Francisco have begun to deepen our participation in mass work, including defending Mumia Abu-Jamal, and joining the fight for Puerto Rican independence and the freedom of Puerto Rican political prisoners held in U.S. jails, and building solidarity with labor struggles.
Close to 1,000 people gathered at the San Francisco Federal Building November 7 for a march demanding that the government grant Mumia Abu-Jamal a new trial and end capital punishment. Abu-Jamal, jailed on frame-up charges in Pennsylvania since 1982, is an outspoken opponent of the death penalty and of the massive prison system in the United States. Accused of killing a cop, Abu-Jamal sits on death row. His appeal for a new trial was turned down October 29 by Pennsylvania's State Supreme Court. The signing of his death warrant is imminent, unless the political price of doing so is made too high for the ruling class to risk paying.
The protesters marched to Jefferson Park, chanting "Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Tear Down the Prisons, Wall by Wall." A rally was then held in the park, featuring a wide assortment of speakers and political viewpoints. Members of the Young Socialists and the Socialist Workers Party staffed a literature table and mingled with the crowd, distributing information on the upcoming YS convention and the next day's demonstration for Puerto Rican political prisoners to most youth at the rally.
Scores of young people dropped by the table to discuss politics, the subjects ranging from how to free Abu-Jamal and jailed Native American rights fighter Leonard Peltier, to the real history of the Cuban revolution, and from the importance of the national liberation struggles in Puerto Rico and other exploited countries, to the revolutionary potential of the working class in the United States and other imperialist countries.
The next day there was a rally demanding the release of four Puerto Rican political prisoners who are women - Dylcia Pagán, Carmen Valentín, Alicia Rodríguez, and Ida Luz Rodríguez - held at the Dublin Federal Correctional Institution (FCI). This action was organized by Comité '98 and endorsed by the League of Filipino Students, Jericho '98, the Young Socialists, the Socialist Workers Party, and others. Close to 100 fighters, young and old, gathered in pouring rain at the commuter train station for a short rally before marching to Dublin FCI. Undeterred by the unfavorable weather, the protesters chanted "Puerto Rico Must Be Free - Not another century," referring to the 100-year fight against Yankee imperialism waged by the peoples of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, and Cuba.
Upon arriving at Dublin FCI, the marchers were greeted by military police who said we could not enter the compound. In response, the group chanted "We're here, no fear, we want them free!" Threatened with arrest if the action didn't move, the organizers decided to hold the rally off to the side of the compound's entrance. Members of Comité '98 read statements issued from the prisoners inside. One statement by Carmen Valentín read, "We can never expect justice from the U.S. government. This country is guilty of the worst atrocities carried out against the world in the name of democracy." It continued, "It is a sad commentary that more and more rallies in the U.S. have to be held in front of prisons."
Members of the YS and SWP took advantage of the recently published pamphlet of interviews with independentista Rafael Cancel Miranda, Puerto Rico: Independence is a Necessity, selling four, with promises of five more at the next Comité '98 meeting. The young Puerto Rican fighters were interested in the YS' s support for the Puerto Rican independence struggle and many looked over the YS convention flyer. The YS is also helping to build a similar demonstration at Lompoc Penitentiary on November 14, near Santa Barbara, where Adolfo Matos is being held.
YS members are also participating in and building weekly rallies by unionists in the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 2 who are fighting for a contract at the Marriott Hotel in San Francisco.
With continued work in these areas of politics, the YS can recruit fellow fighters to help build the anti-imperialist youth organization needed to advance the fights of working people and youth today. We bring our communist continuity and understanding of the necessity of self-determination to the fight for the independence of all oppressed nationalities and nations.
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