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Atlanta holds May Day political repression panel

By staff

Atlanta panel discussion on the fight against political repression.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Atlanta, GA – The Atlanta Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression hosted a May Day panel May 4 focused on fighting back against political repression.

Over 40 people attended to hear speakers from the Atlanta Alliance, Black Alliance for Peace, AUC (Atlanta University Consortium) Students for Justice in Palestine, AUC Student Intercommunal Coordinating Committee, GSU (Georgia State University) Students for Justice in Palestine, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

With the subject of the panel being around political repression, the panelists tied together U.S. imperialism, national oppression and political repression. Speakers touched on the recent wave of pro-Palestine student organizing, political prisoner Kamau Sadiki, mass incarceration, and the Anti-war 23 international solidarity activists.

“When you’re dealing with imperialism and dispossession on a global basis you’re going to eventually come to why we’re here today: that local repression that stems from whenever you try to fight that,” said Damion Scott, a member of Black Alliance for Peace. “When you think about political repression we have to understand that it is constant. When you live in a nation such as this, citizens are always being repressed on a class and race basis,” he continued.

Damion also highlighted the case of political prisoner Kamau Sidiki and the fight to secure his freedom. Sidiki was a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army and was wrongfully arrested in an effort to recapture Assata Shakur from Cuba. Police offered Sidiki a deal whereby if he assisted in the arrest of Shakur he would be given back his freedom. Sidiki refused the 2002 deal and remains in prison to this day.

“When talking about political repression, things like mass incarceration are incredibly relevant. In Georgia, we see some of the highest incarceration rates in the country and the harshest conditions in the jails when looking at Rice Street here in Atlanta,” said David Jones, a speaker from the Atlanta Alliance. “That’s actively taking political power from working-class Black folks. When folks have to sit in jails for months and sometimes years on end without a conviction, it keeps them out of the political struggle, it prevents them from building and uplifting their communities, and it’s actively standing in the way of the struggle for self-determination that folks are organizing towards across the South.”

Rice Street is a Fulton County jail which has come under national scrutiny in recent years due to the appalling conditions inmates are subjected to. The Atlanta Alliance is currently running a campaign to close the Rice Street Jail.

Running mass campaigns against political repression was also talked about by Alex Carson, a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and one of the recently arrested Emory University protesters. Through an analysis of the Anti-war 23 and the defense campaign to maintain their freedom, Carson was able to draw out lessons that can be applied to other defense campaigns, including the campaign to drop the charges against the Emory protesters.

“The wave of violent repression being brought upon Americans who support Palestine will require a strategy of mass defense; one that pulls student groups, community organizations, and labor unions into a coordinated defense of the people’s movements,” said Caron. “The state is already attempting to paint the student movement and its supporters as ‘terrorists’. By being proud of our actions and politics we show the state that they can’t outlaw resistance no matter how hard they try.”

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