Posted by atrain
On Saturday May 8, Anthony Kyser stole toothpaste and crayons from a CVS Pharmacy located at 2634 S. Pulaski. The manager of CVS chased Kyser to a back alley where employees held Kyser to the ground while the manager choked him to death. An off-duty Cook County Corrections Officer on the scene held a gun to Kyser during the episode. Despite Kyser’s pleas of “I can’t breathe,” the officer did not intervene.
Kyser was an unemployed barber and father. Adding insult to injury, the Chicago Police Department has refused to press charges against the corrections officer. This murder was an attack on a working-class person of color; it is part of a pattern of such attacks. When we are forced to steal food or basic living supplies, we are at war. When we are evicted from our home or are screwed over on the job it is war. Our survival depends on our ability to organize ourselves, for our own benefit — without interference from corrupt politicians, bosses, or landlords.
Anthony Kyser is hardly alone as an unemployed African-American. The official unemployment rate for African-Americans in 2007 was 17.7 percent, three times the rate faced by white people. Our economic system is putting more and more wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people (and neighborhoods) – most of them white. Within the past decade and a half, many African-American communities have experienced pronounced job losses, while areas without a significant African-American population gained more jobs.
Jobs are being stolen from African-Americans. And CEOs who pocket big raises are stealing money from workers. Half a century ago, the average CEO made about one and a half times as much as the average worker. Today, they make 344 times as much. They have increased your workload while they cut pay, vacation time and health benefits. The high levels of unemployment let them keep doing it, guaranteeing that anyone who tries to look for something better will be out on the street looking for work for weeks, months, or years.
Kyser also served felony jail time for drug offenses. Currently, prisons are the second- largest employer in the U.S. Incarcerating one person for a year costs $40,000; for the price of sending Kyser to prison for a year, 20 people could have spent a year at community college. But the wealthiest one percent of the population would rather have a large labor pool to drive down wages. Convicted felons are unable to receive aid for college, keeping them at the bottom rung of society. They are ineligible for most public programs, including housing; most companies won’t hire them. Without education or a job, stealing or other illegal activity becomes the only option.
So who is at fault — Anthony Kyser? Or a system that is designed to benefit the richest in society? We cannot wait for the next election and rely on the broken promises of our aldermen, Mayor Daley, or Obama. We cannot trust store managers and landlords to decide what is best for our communities. We certainly cannot trust our employers and owners to decide what is produced and who is to work and who is to starve on the street.
We envision a society where aldermen and developers are replaced by community assemblies, where the corruption of Daley and other politicians are erased by popular decision making – one where workers get rid of their bosses, so they can run stores and share in the profits.
If you do not work, ask for work. If they do not give you work, ask for bread. If they do not give you work or bread, then take the fucking bread!