25, 50, and 75 Years Ago

February 19, 2024

February 22, 1999

NEW YORK — Four New York City cops killed Amadou Diallo, a 22-year-old vendor from Guinea, here Feb. 4 in a fusillade of 41 bullets. The unarmed man was struck by 19 bullets as he stood in the doorway of the Bronx apartment building where he lived.

More than 1,000 people jammed onto the block where Diallo lived Feb. 7, outraged at the killing. A majority were from the neighborhood, which is predominantly West African. Many residents hung signs of protest out their windows. Iris Baez, whose son Anthony Baez was killed in a police chokehold in 1994, was among those who addressed the rally. Some 2,000 protesters turned out two days later for a rally outside the federal court building in Manhattan.

The cops’ lawyer defended the shooting, asserting that they had been looking for a rapist and Diallo fit the description “in a generic way.”

February 22, 1974

With Prime Minister Edward Heath’s decision to dissolve Parliament and run for reelection against the striking coal miners, issues were posed highly relevant to the United States as well as Britain.

The militant struggle of the members of the National Union of Mineworkers has severely undermined Heath’s attempts to force British workers to bear the burden of inflation. Heath made it clear that a victory would be interpreted as a mandate for continued wage controls on the working class as a whole.

An election campaign based on scare tactics was virtually the only alternative left to Heath once the results of the mineworkers’ strike vote were in. With 81 percent voting in favor of a strike, there was no room left for a deal with the NUM leadership at the expense of the ranks. On Feb. 8, the NUM executive decided to begin the strike on schedule Feb. 10.

February 21, 1949

In both World War I and World War II Congress plunged America into the slaughter without consulting the people. The Socialist Workers Party has long advocated that the war-making powers be taken away from Congress and placed in the hands of the people where they belong.

How to amend the Constitution is now being argued in the capitalist press. The issue is the wording of a crucial clause of the secretly negotiated North Atlantic Pact. As formulated, this clause would require the United States to take “action forthwith” if it was decided that any of the signatories to the war alliance was under “attack.”

The intent is to knit together a world-wide alliance for imperialist war and to commit the United States to that war in advance, by-passing Congress and leaving the decision in the hands of one man — the occupant of the White House.