March on Philadelphia City Hall to Expose Sales Tax Increase as Fundraiser for War on African Community!

Philadelphia, PA – We, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), standing in unity with various grassroots organizations in the African community, are today, October 2, 2009, holding the "They Say Cutback We Say Payback (TSCBWSPB) March" on City Hall as part of a three day weekend of resistance, which will include InPDUM’s International Convention on Saturday and Sunday, October 3-4, where activists, members and supporters of INPDUM branches from at least 10 different cities will converge on Philadelphia to vote on InPDUM’s Revolutionary National Democratic Program that calls for self determination and reparations for African people in the U.S.  Speakers at the convention include attorney Michael Coard, Pam Africa, Robert King of the Angola 3 and Omali Yeshitela, founder and Chairman of the African Socialist International.

Through this weekend of resistance, we aim to expose Philadelphia’s and the U.S.’s economic policies as part of a war budget used to attack the African community and, in the process, generate billions for the white ruling class.  Evidence of the Philadelphia based war is found in Philadelphia’s glaring statistics. With a 48% African population, Philadelphia is the City:

  • With the highest poverty rate among the 10 largest U.S. cities,
  • Where at least 50 percent of all African men are unemployed.
  • Where the African unemployment rate is twice that of whites.
  • Where 40 percent of all African people live below the poverty line.
  • With the highest incarceration in the U.S. (and by extension, in the world).
  • Whose public school system has a 48 percent high school dropout rate.
  • Whose 2009 budget only spent 6.9 percent on education and 25 percent on police, prisons and courts.

Even before Nutter mentioned a “doomsday budget” and crisis, this was the situation in Philadelphia. The City has never offered up any solution to the crisis that has afflicted the African community for decades. March organizers characterize the City’s budget as a war budget, as 25% of it is spent on police, prisons and courts that attack the African community, while only 7% is spent on education. 

The most recent attack from the colonial war budget was leveled against the African community on Thursday, September 17, when the state senate voted on Nutter’s budget proposal – giving the choice of either charging the people more sales tax or firing 3,000 city workers.  The interest of the African community and other poor and oppressed people of the City were not a factor when the decision on how to solve the economic crisis was made. The Senate was not voting to return the $1.1 billion that the City of Philadelphia spends annually on police and prisons to the African community.  It was not voting to charge major corporations like Comcast, who’s CEO Brian Roberts makes $24 million a year, more taxes. It wasn’t voting to release the tens of thousands of African men, women and children from the Pennsylvania prison system and to turn the billions made off their stolen labor back to the African community. None of these options were discussed, clear evidence of the nature of the so-called democracy we are living in and also clear evidence of whose crisis Nutter and the Senate are attempting to solve. 

The reality is that this is a democracy of the white ruling class. Although the policies of City Hall and the capitol are often carried out by African politicians, these forces are nothing but agents of imperialism and the white ruling class itself. In the Uhuru Movement we refer to such forces like Michael Nutter, John Street, Wilson Goode and Barack Obama as neo-colonialism, or white power in black face.  We characterize our struggle as one that is not just against the white ruling class which controls this economy but also neo-colonialism which serves to distract the masses of Africans from the reality that our misery is the result of a system, not individuals who make bad decisions. If we are to be free and have control of our own resources we must struggle for power in our own hands through a program such as the demands of the October 2nd march.

Just as we make a distinction between the democracy of the white ruling class and the democracy we seek for the poor and oppressed African working class we must make a distinction made between the economic crisis that Nutter refers to and the economic crisis suffered by the African community. The fact is that African people have been experiencing a deep and profound crisis for the last 500 years, since we were stolen from our homeland along with the vast amounts of mineral and natural resources of Africa. Even during “good times” for the U.S. and Philadelphia economy, African people have been victims of U.S, government imposed poverty, terror and powerlessness.  In fact, the wealth responsible for those “good times” was accumulated through the exploitation of African people in the prisons and factories, the sub-prime mortgage and U.S. government controlled drug economy.

In addition, the decision to impose more sales tax on the people of Philadelphia represents a greater rate of exploitation of all working people, an issue that should be a cause of great concern for the people of this City.  Particularly the question of taxes has always been a question of the government’s ability to steal money from working people.  In this way, it is not unlike the mafia and other gangs, with whom the federal and local governments in this country have long been in competition to control this parasitic capitalist economy as whole.  Through taxes, when one pays their cable bill they do not only have to pay Comcast but they also have to pay the government!  Because of its monopoly on violence and ability to impose violent consequences on anyone who doesn’t pay taxes no matter whose interests the tax dollars serve, abstention is not an option.  While everyone pays more taxes, corporations like Comcast and Verizon do not have to pay any more taxes.

Most importantly however, the new tax increase serves as a fundraiser for the City of Philadelphia’s multi-billion war against the African community.  Every month, $10 million more will come to the City as a result of the tax increase.  Through history just as recent as what happened on September 17, we know that none of that money will be used in the interest of the African community. This money will be used to strengthen a clearly weak and dying economy built on sucking the blood of African people.  All sectors of the economy – public, private, legal or illegal are based in the exploitation of African people. This is how the Philadelphia and U.S. economy was built and this is what the current economic policies of the City are based on.  This is why the Pennsylvania prison system has grown more than 500% since the early 1970’s – providing jobs for rural white communities throughout the state.  The fact is that the government is used an instrument to expropriate resources from the African community to provide prosperity for the white ruling class and general white population. Hence, we have named the new tax increase “Philadelphia’s Black Tax”, which raises $10 million more a month for the multi-billion dollar colonial war against the African community.

One of the key demands of the TSCBWSPB March is the complete exoneration of the City Hall 2, two members of InPDUM who were attacked and arrested by Philadelphia Police during a City Council meeting where Nutter was to unveil the 2010 City war budget.  Myself, Diop Olugbala and my comrade Shabaka Mnombtha were attacked simply for holding up signs demanding an end to the war being waged against the African community. InPDUM was the only organization attacked in this process, even while several white organizations and activists were standing and holding signs as well. The fact is that the City Hall 2 were attacked because of InPDUM’s ability to expose the fundamental social contradiction in this City – the exploitation and oppression of the African population by the City.  

For this reason we also make a distinction in the demands of the march and demands coming from other anti-budget cut forces of the past.  Opposition to the budget cuts doesn’t necessarily mean opposition to the war on the African community. This is evident in the existence of such forces as the Coalition to Save Essential Services which aims to save the jobs for police and other agencies based in the war against African people.  TSCBWSPB March organizers are calling on the City’s working and poor population to oppose both the budget cuts and war on the African community, while they also demand self determination and reparations for African people.

The situation we are confronted with in Philadelphia is but a microcosm of the entire U.S. war budget which spends more than a trillion dollars each year on imperialist wars of oppression, aggression and theft of resources from the non-white peoples of the world, including Africans right within the belly of the U.S. beast.  In fact, it is the federal government, under U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama’s leadership that sent Vice President Joe Biden to Philadelphia on July 28, 2009 to announce that the feds will be providing a $10 million economic stimulus package to the City to be used exclusively for the police department.   March and convention organizers and participants of the African community are also being called on to join the Black is Back Coalition of Social Justice, Peace and Reparations and to participate in a national march on Washington D.C. scheduled for Saturday, November 7th.

In the final analysis, the demands of the weekend of resistance and the upcoming March on Washington will only come to fruition when African people build revolutionary organization to seize political power in our own hands. Key to this struggle is the demand for reparations and independence. This is a call for African workers and intellectuals to engage in such struggle.

They Say Cut Back! We Say Payback! Reparations Now! Independence In Our Lifetime!


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