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Vol. 81/No. 3      January 16, 2017

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Socialist Workers Party: ‘Prosecute killer cops!’

SWP takes LA mayor campaign to workers’ doors

Militant/Jonathan Batres
Tatum O’Neill, center, talks with Dennis Richter, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, Jan. 3 about police killing of his former classmate, 20-year-old Ryan Joseph.
LOS ANGELES — “We call for charging the cop who killed Ryan Joseph,” said Dennis Richter, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Los Angeles Jan. 3. He was speaking with grammar school teacher Arlene Washington on her doorstep here, a few blocks from where police shot and killed 20-year-old Joseph Dec. 18. The cops said he ran from them as they were responding to a call about someone with a gun. They chased him near the apartment complex where he lived and shot him. They claim they recovered a gun at the scene.

A vigil of over 100 people was held in front of the apartment complex the next day.

Richter and other SWP campaigners were visiting with workers in the area, talking about how to fight police brutality, to introduce the SWP and discuss the importance of building a working-class alternative to the two bosses’ parties, the Democrats and Republicans.

“The politicians always say they are going to do an investigation, but they just want us to forget and not protest to keep the pressure on,” said Richter.

“There has to be a fundamental change,” Washington said. “They give the cops too much power. The state, the courts, the judges all work together.”

“We do need fundamental change,” Richter agreed. “The cops operate as part of a system that defends private property and the bosses. They’re not here to defend the working class. The capitalist rulers work to keep us divided — through unemployment, racism, paying women less, treating immigrants worse. They use these divisions to drive us all down, because they make millions off of us that way.”

To learn more about the party, Washington got a copy of The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record: Why Washington Fears Working People by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes and purchased a Militant.

‘We need to read and study’

“We are building a movement of working people to fight for our class,” Richter said. “I’ve joined marches to raise the minimum wage, and protest police brutality and deportations. At the same time, I think we need to read and study together along with others we meet who want to build a movement. That’s why we introduce the books on working-class politics today and the Militant as we knock on workers’ doors.”

Richter and supporters have campaigned in the neighborhood over the past few weeks, meeting several people who knew Joseph.

“I don’t think they had to kill him,” said Tatum O’Neill, 19, who had gone to school with the slain youth. “But the cops always have an excuse.”

“Cops say they felt threatened, and use that to justify whatever brutality they dish out. The courts, the big business media and the city government back them up — unless we take to the streets,” Richter said. “All political questions are ultimately settled on the streets.

“Even if Joseph did have a gun, the cops don’t have the right to execute people on the spot,” he said.

Join the campaign

“I want to help reach out to youth,” Jonathan Batres, who was campaigning door to door with Richter for the second time, told the Militant. “I want to get young people to read more. We’re oversaturated with distractions, like apps or videos on our phones.”

Batres, a tattoo artist, previously worked at Office Depot. “Sometimes they would call me in for just a four-hour shift so they didn’t have to give me a lunch break,” he said.

Recently he joined a protest here in solidarity with Native Americans at Standing Rock in North Dakota fighting for sovereignty over tribal land and against the Dakota Access Pipeline. “It inspired me to see these people standing up, and I thought, ‘I can’t just stand by and do nothing,’” Batres said. He heard Richter speak at the protest and decided to join in activities with the SWP candidate afterward.

“It’s vital to talk face to face with workers about what’s going on, hear the problems they have, the solutions they see,” he said about campaigning door to door. “People don’t get ideas out of thin air. They have to discuss them. They have so many things to talk about, and they like being asked what they think.”

Batres said he is reading up on the Cuban Revolution. “In school I only heard bad stuff about Cuba,” he said. “But working with the Socialist Workers Party, I’ve learned different things, including about when they distributed land to people — a monumental thing!”

Richter said when people hear he is a candidate, they take more seriously what he has to say. “Yes, and we have to use that to our advantage,” Batres said, “and talk to more people.”
Related articles:
Newark protest says, ‘Stop cops killing our children’
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