In August, Houston hosted an event for the Southern Speaking Tour by organizers with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical union founded in 1905 on the basis of building the independent organization and fighting capacity of workers against the capitalist class. One speaker, D. who organizes in Minneapolis with the Twin Cities IWW and the African People’s Caucus, highlighted work they have been involved with combating police violence, including the Hands Up Don’t Ship Action at a UPS facility in 2014 and the 4th Precinct Shutdown in response to the murder of Jamar Clark in 2015.
Listen to his reflections on the experiences in Minneapolis:
As you’ll hear in the audio, D. explains that:
“They called it Hands Up Don’t Ship because there were packages – law enforcement shooting targets – that UPS delivers to law enforcement agencies all across the country. Some of those shooting targets happened to be going to Missouri, to Ferguson where all this stuff was going on at the time. Workers started picking up on that and saying, we can’t just let that happen, we gotta do something about this. The idea was to start Hands Up Don’t Ship. That means if you see a package going across the conveyor belt and the label says it’s going to Missouri, you take it put it outside the trailer and refuse to load it. This is technically illegal under the union contract; the company could have legally retaliated against the workers who were doing that. They decided not to do that because they were so spooked and concerned about the bad publicity of punishing workers for acting in solidarity with Ferguson…
[Soon after] was the shooting of Jamar Clark, young black male shot execution-style by the police in North Minneapolis, a predominantly black impoverished area. In response, people decided to occupy the 4th Precinct which basically rules over that hood. We stayed there for 14 days in the wintertime. If you know anything about Minnesota, it’s cold. But that’s how upset these people were. It was definitely a high point of the anti-racist struggle. A lot of different people from different places were coming down there…
Another inspiring thing about that struggle, in that particular neighborhood, there are two gang sets the Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords. These gangs have been beefing and killing each other for a very long time. When the shooting came down, that entire mentality of GD vs Vice Lords was erased. They all came together as one unit to fight back against the police. It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. Most people from that neighborhood could never imagine those two gang sets coming together but it happened. Unfortunately it wasn’t prolonged. But that’s one example of how people who hate each other within the working class can come together for a common interest.”
You can find the audio from the full panel of speakers here.