Published May 24, 2012 9:17 PM
Thousands of people poured into this city by the lake on the May 19-20 weekend. A few were high officials, prime ministers and presidents. They came to attend the summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance of the United States, Canada and Western European powers. Hiding behind masses of heavily armed police, they wined and dined and plotted new wars against poor people in Africa and Asia.
WW photo: Bryan G. Pfeifer
Many thousands more, working and jobless, students, retirees and military veterans, came to protest their plans for endless wars and endless war spending. Several hundred among them also came to attend a different summit meeting. Mostly young and mostly people of color, they packed El Centro Autonomo, a community hall in Chicago’s largely immigrant Albany Park neighborhood.
The theme of the May 19 assembly was “Unite with the Global 99% Against Monopoly Capital, the Source of Economic Crisis, Racism and War.” Their purpose was to launch the United States Country Chapter of the International League of Peoples Struggle.
The ILPS could be called the anti-NATO. It unites nearly 400 mass organizations in 43 countries on six continents. It represents workers, peasants and fishers, students, indigenous people, the urban poor, environmentalists, human rights lawyers and advocates, antiwar activists and fighters for women’s and queer rights. With all their diversity, they are united in seeing imperialism, the global system of monopoly capitalism that is centered on Wall Street, as the primary enemy of working class and oppressed people all over the world.
The U.S. Chapter of ILPS was launched by 28 local and national member organizations. They included the International Action Center, the U.S. branch of the Philippine mass movement Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance), the Philippine womens’ organization Gabriela and youth organization Anakbayan, the People’s Organization for Progress, the Palestine Youth Movement, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Solidarity with Iran, Alianza Boricua, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice, and Chelsea (Mass.) Uniting Against the War. It will join four other ILPS country chapters in the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and Canada.
‘Gathered beneath brightly painted murals and banners, the assembly was opened with a Skype message from the league’s chair, exiled Philippine revolutionary leader Jose Maria Sison. He said, “We appreciate the significance and urgency of the theme of your assembly: ‘Unite with the Global 99% Against Monopoly Capital, the Source of Economic Crisis, Racism and War’; build a brighter future that is ours! You are responding to the challenge posed by the rapidly worsening crisis of the world capitalist system. It is imperative that you raise the level of your unity, organization and militancy in line with the anti-imperialist and democratic struggle of the people of the world.”
The assembly was welcomed to Chicago by Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. of the Black Panther Party Prisoners of Conscience Collective. Hampton is the son of Illinois Black Panther Party Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton, who was murdered in his bed by a Chicago police death squad on Dec. 4, 1969. Hampton put the massive mobilization of Chicago police to terrorize anti-NATO protesters in historical context. He also noted that May 19 is the birthday of peoples’ heroes Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh.
Other speakers included veteran Chicano activist Carlos Montes, who cofounded the Brown Berets in 1967; Hatem Abudayeh, of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network; and Minneapolis antiwar activist Stefanie Yorek, of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Fightback. All three have had their homes raided and ransacked by the FBI and their property confiscated. Montes was framed on phony felony charges and goes to trial June 20.
ILPS General Secretary Malcolm Guy of Montreal delivered solidarity greetings from the Canada chapter. He told the assembly of the heroic three-month strike being waged by students in Quebec and of the fascistic emergency law imposed to try to suppress their struggle. Venezuelan Consul General Jose Rodriguez y Espinoza also addressed the assembly.
Then the youth and veterans who packed El Centro moved on to the main task of the day: launching the U.S. Country Chapter. During several hours of discussion they adopted bylaws, resolutions and a general program of action that made clear ILPS-US will be an activist organization focusing on anti-imperialist education and mobilization. A country coordinating committee, headed by Kuusela Hilo of Bayan USA and Bill Dores of the International Action Center, was elected to implement the chapter program.
On May 20, ILPS members helped lead a militant and disciplined national liberation support contingent in the 12,000-strong march on the NATO summit at McCormick Place. Kuusela Hilo of ILPS co-chaired the rally with Joe Iosbacher of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression.