Carl Dix from Cleveland:
One Flag Burns—Two Futures Clash
All Out to Defend Joey Johnson and All Those Arrested
July 21, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution caught up with Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party a few hours after Joey Johnson, surrounded by members of the Revolution Club, burned an American flag outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland July 20. Johnson, 15 members of the Revolution Club, and one other person were attacked and arrested by police. Carl has been in Cleveland with the Revolution Club and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and he was at the flag-burning protest in downtown Cleveland today.
This is a rush transcript.
REVOLUTION: Why don’t you begin by describing what happened today.
CD: OK, what happened today is that Joey Johnson burned a flag right outside the arena where the Republican National Convention is going down. And as the flag began to go up, a number of police came at Joey and the revolutionaries that he was with and began to push people, to grab people, to arrest people. And there was some unleashing of reactionaries and allowing them to get in. But it was mainly the police grabbing and arresting people. What I can tell right now is that Joey and 12 other people got arrested.
Joey Johnson burning the U.S. flag at the Republican Convention, July 20. Photo: revcom.us
REVOLUTION: It's striking that inside this Nazi festival called the Republican Convention one future was being put out, and in the streets the revolutionaries were courageously going right up against this and bringing out—and representing—a whole different future.
CD: Well, the flag being burned outside the Republican convention today came down to a collision between two drastically different futures for humanity. On the inside of the convention, you had the anointing of the spearhead of a growing fascist movement and the nomination of Donald Trump to be the Republican candidate for president—a man whose surrogates and supporters are touting that he’s going to bring to the country what Adolf Giuliani brought to New York City in terms of the police state clampdown, who are vowing to go on the offensive against Muslims, who are vowing to step up the assault on the right of women to choose to have an abortion. And in Giuliani’s words to the world, “We’re coming to get you.” This is what’s going on inside the convention.
And outside it, there was something totally different going up against that. It was a statement that America was never great. What was so great about the slavery and the genocide that this country was founded on? What was so great about Jim Crow segregation and lynch mob terror? What’s been great about the theft of land from Mexico, the thieving of the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Cuba? What’s great about the degradation and violence that women are up against in this society? What’s great about the murders by police that get presided over? And what’s great about the way that they paint that flag on the side of bombs that are dropped on villages in Pakistan and places like that which destroys hundreds of people, incinerates them? That’s what was being rejected by the stance that people took—and bringing forward that we need a world without America and everything that it stands for. And that the Revolutionary Communist Party is organizing for an actual revolution at the soonest possible time—to make that revolution, get rid of this capitalist-imperialist system and bring in a totally different way for people to live here and around the world.
And another thing that Joey began to do—they came at him too quickly for him to get too deeply into this—he had with him a copy of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, a document that speaks to how things don’t have to be this way. That capitalism-imperialism isn’t the only way to organize society. That there’s a way to organize a society where power is in the hands of the people—and the main right that they have is to get rid of the exploitation and oppression left over from this capitalist society, after the revolution has overthrown this system.
So there were two different futures. And it really did come down to one future that represented continuing and intensifying horrors being inflicted on millions of people around the world, and the other future represented the chance for humanity to get out from out of those horrors.
the Revolution Club
REVOLUTION: The Revolution Club has been marching in the streets of Cleveland and one of their chants is: “We are the revcoms, the mighty, mighty revcoms.” There's their courage and determination. And even more fundamentally there is what they represent. Talk about what that is.
CD: That’s a very important point because, look, taking this action today concentrated something about the determination that the revolutionaries and the Revolution Club have had here at the Republican National Convention. There have been pigs all over the place. I mean, everywhere you turn there are cops on bicycles, cops on horseback, cops on foot. They got cops from many different localities and states around the country—Texas, Utah, North Carolina, Indiana, Michigan. So you have to go up against a lot to be in the streets here. And that was on purpose—there was a message of intimidation directed at people, visits by the FBI of people who were planning on protesting or considering supporting the protests. All of these things have been going down.
So you had to go in the face of that. And you had to go in the face of this “America number one” fascist surge that’s being pushed out. In the face of that, the revcoms went right into it, they marched into it, they were chanting. It was really a thrilling thing to see—organized and disciplined revolutionaries who are not only talking about a different way the world can be, but who embody that in the way that they function, and the way that they carry it out and the way that they went into the face and into the teeth of the police state clampdown that has been in effect here at the Republican National Convention.
It wasn’t just a lot of bravado or anything like that, but the fact that people are being led by a vision of the kind of world that could be brought into being through revolution, that things don’t have to be this way. And people inspired by that vision, a vision coming from Bob Avakian—the scientific theory, the new synthesis of communism that he’s brought forward. The way he’s addressed the questions that stand between humanity and its ultimate emancipation has really unleashed people to begin to act to bring that out. So that’s what’s guiding the discipline and the organization and the determination and the courage of the revolutionaries and the Club who were out there today.
And once people displayed that and took that action, we did suffer a number of arrests. But some of the revolutionaries who weren’t arrested were able to regroup. They began to march and they began to attract people who wanted to know what was this is about. Even though they didn’t know what it was about, there was a way in which what was done with the flag being burned—and the chief of the police couldn’t put it down and people continued to carry forward the political thrust, which was very attractive.
I was just giving an example of a woman who was a friend of Melissa Williams—the Black woman who was in a car with Timothy Russell a few years back and who were set upon and chased by lynch mobs of cops from a number of different localities around the Cleveland area. The cops chased them for more than 20 miles, fired more than 100 shots, 137 total, and exterminated them both, executed them in that car. And none of those cops were punished. The friend of Melissa saw what we were doing, came over, connected with it, took the bullhorn to do agitation with us. And after she did some agitation and after I had done some more agitation, she came up and said, “I want to thank you all, and I know more people who would want to get with this revolution. So you gotta tell me what it’s about so I can go to them with it.” Because even though she was just reading it and just beginning to learn what it was about, it was beginning to open up for her that a world where people like her friend could be murdered for nothing more than being Black and in the wrong place could be gotten rid of, and she wanted to connect with it. That is just an example of the kind of impact that the Club has had here in its activity at the Republican National Convention.
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REVOLUTION: Can you talk more about the contrasts in futures, and leadership, that you had today in Cleveland?
CD: OK, like I was saying, what’s leading this is the vision of a different world and how to get there, how to realize that world that BA has developed. He’s taken on the questions that we’re up against in terms of how do we go from the revolutionary forces being small and weak to being strong enough to actually be able to bring forward and lead a revolutionary people numbering in the millions. What’s the strategy for revolution? How could you go up against all the power and might that this system has? So he has been speaking of those questions. And on the basis of the work that he’s done, that unleashes people to go out and to be a mighty force—even as it’s in small numbers now and to take that to others. So that’s what’s behind it.
And again, for a lot of the people that we’re meeting, this is brand new. They don’t know a lot about it, but as they begin to learn and as they see it in motion and in action, it taps into something. It begins to move them to say: OK, all these horrors that I have hated dealing with all my life, these people say things don’t have to be this way—that they got a strategy for getting rid of them and leadership for that. And they want to know about it. We’re connecting with it, we’re getting them organized, and we’re showing them clips from revcom.us on our phones, clips of Bob Avakian. The clips that are being put up—the one about police murder and the murderous logic of the system and the one about the elections. We’re bringing that out to people, to both give people a deeper understanding—to some who are already kind of pulled in the direction of, “I don’t think any of these politicians are any good for us” and some of the ones who are maybe a bit confused, like thinking, “I really hate that Donald Trump—maybe that means I should get with the Democrats.” And when we break that out, [with the clips] people want to get into it, people want to hear it, people want to listen to it.
So that’s what we’re working at here, that’s what we’re working on. And really trying to one, bring out to people and make them not only understand but feel the horrific crimes that this American imperialist system has perpetrated against people in this country and around the world; laying bare through current events, like the murder of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by the police, situating that in the historical context. But then taking people to the fact that these horrors—not just on that front, but on all the fronts, whether it’s the question of women facing domestic violence, violence in society, the threat of rape and actual rape in widespread, horrible numbers, and having the right to choose to have an abortion taken away, record number of deportations under the “pro-immigration” President Obama—bringing those horrors to people, but bringing to them that these horrors are rooted in the actual capitalist-imperialist system and how it works, and that there’s a way out and leadership for that way out.
That’s what we’re working on, that’s what we were trying to do with the protest around police murder and saying that people who are protesting that are right and righteous and need to be supported and need to stay in the street. And through the course of this taking on the reactionaries who really don’t like the fact that we’re here, who try to shout us down in streets, but have been dismayed at the fact that we haven’t been cowed, that we have continued to speak out to bring the reality to people and to situate that reality in the actual workings of this system and to promote the way out and the leader, BA, who has forged that way out.
And then, the regrouping in the aftermath of the attack. Because a lot of our forces were snatched up. But then the forces that were left got regrouped and then they began to move. They marched around the area, chanting. We’d stop, we’d agitate and we began to pick up people who wanted to go with us. Media wanted to interview us. And it was through the course of this mobile chanting and agitation, we began to attract people. And this has been happening—it’s been everywhere that we’ve gone, this has been part of the process. You meet some people who don’t know about the revolution, but what really hits them is that when they hear about it, they want to know more about it. And some of them, even as they want to know more, want to take it out and spread it to others.
REVOLUTION: Overall what have you and other revolutionaries been trying to accomplish through the different things you've been doing, including taking out the message "Time to Get Organized For an Actual Revolution," at the RNC?
CD: That’s a good question. Look, we are organizing for an actual revolution. Here at this convention where the naked fascism of Donald Trump, the America uber alles, the police state clampdown, the targeting of Muslims, of immigrants – all of this is being put forward and legitimized. We have been in the streets bringing to people that America has never been great. Posing questions like, what was so great about slavery, what was so great about genocide? What was and is so great about violence against women? What’s so great about the attacks on immigrants? We need a revolution. We need to get rid of this system. And bring into being a world without America and everything it stands for—and taking that message everywhere, from in the streets around the convention to the housing projects; in the protest around police murder yesterday, the flag burning today, out to the concerts, the Prophets of Rage have headlined here—to all of that.
And we are both putting out before the eyes of the world that not only is there opposition to what Donald Trump stands for, there is a revolutionary opposition to what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and this whole system is about. And it is being led by the Revolutionary Communist Party that is organizing for an actual revolution, bringing to people the leadership that we have for this revolution in Bob Avakian, and connecting people with that leadership—bringing to people the strategy for it. And, as we do this, we are also mobilizing people to stand up and to fight against these crimes. Because you cannot accept in silence the horrific shit that this system is doing to people here in this country and around the world. You gotta stand up, you gotta fight it, you got to resist it, you got to be in the streets. And that resistance and that protest is even more powerful as it’s connected with and being taken up in the context of organizing for an actual revolution.
So that’s what we’ve been trying to do. That’s what we’ve been pushing out and pushing forward in all of the ways that we can, both through the actions we take on the streets. The coverage that has been on revcom.us has been very important, and then the spreading of that coverage through social media and in all of the other ways. Doing it in form of interviews, letting people know that they can find out what’s happening at the convention and what the revolution is doing all over the country by going to that website, that they need to go there every day. Because every day there’s new stuff up on that website—catching the system red-handed in its crimes, bringing out how the revolution is moving to actually organize people, bringing forward and training the hundreds and thousands of people who can become tested leaders and who can influence broader numbers, even millions, today and prepare to get into position to lead millions, when the time comes to actually launch a real attempt at revolution that has a real chance of winning.
And then in the course of this we’re connecting with people, working to get them organized, working to spread and develop the Revolution Club both among people in this area but also among people who have come to this area for the convention and found the revolution here at the convention and want to get connected with it. So we’re looking to have organization forged here and spread from here.
REVOLUTION: Is there anything before we end that you want to say to our readers, that you think they should know.
CD: Two short things. Anybody who is in Cleveland or who can get here for Thursday afternoon, there’s a 4 pm protest that was called. I don’t recall exactly what group called it, maybe it’s a coalition of groups, but it’s against all of the foul stuff that’s coming down. And it would be very important for that protest to be as large as possible. We’ve been promoting it in the work that we’ve been doing. And readers of revcom, if you’re close enough to get to Cleveland or in Cleveland, then be here and be part of that, and be looking ahead. Because the Revolution Club is not going home from Cleveland. It’s going to Philadelphia, taking the same message. We don’t need to vote for this system. We need to overthrow this system. And the Revolutionary Communist Party is organizing for an actual revolution to get rid of this system at the soonest possible moment.
REVOLUTION: This is going to be a battle to free Joey Johnson and those arrested with him. What do people need to do now?
CD: The arrest today of Joey Johnson and those who stood with him marked the beginning of a major political battle. When he torched that red white and blue rag, Joey Johnson was making a bold political statement that America was never great. He was exposing the crimes this system perpetrates around the world and in this country. In arresting him and those who stood with him the authorities were trying to suppress this. People are facing serious criminal charges, including some are facing felony charges. So there’s a lot at stake here. Everyone who hates the horrific crimes this system has perpetrated needs to join the effort, to join the fight, as does everyone who believes everyone has the right to freely express their viewpoints, especially when those viewpoints go up against what those in power are doing. This means everyone needs to call for those arrested to be freed. We will be calling for people to demand those arrested be released from jail. Right now there is an urgent need for donations for bail and the legal battle – do that at https://www.crowdrise.com/revolution-club-at-the-conventions. And spread the word about what happened. Donate now! And raise money for this legal and political battle to free Joey Johnson and those arrested with him.
The arrest of these freedom fighters needs to become – to borrow from Mao Zedong – we need to make this case a rock the authorities have picked up to drop on their own feet.
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