May Day Los Angeles 1980
8 Oct. 01
by Lifta for Marxist-Leninist Newswire
The RCP/USA's refusal to cooperate with, and scapegoating of, the LAPD in order to cover-up the Damian Garcia murder infuriated city officials. The RCP/USA's application for a parade permit for their planned May Day march was denied.1 15 minutes before the march was schedualed to begin Los Angeles Superior Court upheld the City's denial and held that the RCP/USA could have their march as long as they remianed on the sidewalk. The RCP/USA attempted to comply with this demand, but when 200 RCP/USA marched out of MacArthur Park, along Wilshire Blvd, they were confronted by more than 300 riot clad police officers who brutally smashed the demonstration at the intersections of Lucas and Bixel.
Eye witnesses reported to the Los Angeles Times that the police attack on the RCP/USA demonstration was unprovoked, but the party members waded into the police screaming "Kill the Pigs" and began hitting officers with wooden doweling that was being used to support red flags. RCP/USA demonstrators were pictured in the Los Angeles Times soaked in bood. One demonstrator was photographed with an empty soda pop bottle in his rear pocket and one of the 32 detainees was carrying a .45 caliber pistol in a shoulder holster. In spite of the attack by the LAPD against the RCP/USA the remainer of their cadre continued the demonstration to Pershing Square shouting slogans like "Red, White and Blue we spit on you. You stand for plunder you shall go under." and reiterated their assertion that Damian Garcia had been murdered by the LAPD.2
By way of contrast the PLP held a late May Day demonstration along the same parade route the folowing Saturday. The attracted more than 250 marchers observed by only 30 police officers. The remained on the sidewalks and there was no violence despite the PLP's vitriolic slogans e.g. "Hang the Nazis" "Death to the KKK" "Turn the Bosses War into Revolutionary War" and "KKK + KKKarter Means Racist War". According to PLP spokesman Barry Sautman, interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, "we disagree with them [the RCP/USA] on almost every issue and sometimes I think the group is close to crazy."3 The Los Angeles City Attorney dropped charges against 28 RCP/USA party members and 4 cases were held over for trial or other disposition.4
The RCP/USA was riding high on a wave of publicity. Bob Avakian and 16 others were still awaiting trial on 27 felony accounts stemming from demonstrations in Washington D.C. against Teng Chow-ping who had just completed a tour of the United States and met with President Jimmy Carter. The RCP/USA organized a "Committee to Give a Fitting Welcome to Teng Chow-ping" and undertaken many actions including the vandalism of the newly built Chinese Embassy in Washington and the disruption of a White House ceremony with Jimmy Carter and Teng present at the time.
Two RCP/USA members, Keith Scott Kozimoto and Sonia J. Ransom od Seattle had inflitrated the ceremony with press credentials from the Workers Press, a local RCP/USA publication, in Seattle. Later that evening 400 members of the RCP/USA, including Clark Kissenger, Bob Avakian and other party noteables broke into a run at the end of a march and charged into Lafayette Park hurrling bottles, sticks, road flares and metal weights at D.C. police. Both officers and demonstrators were observed clubbing one another in a melee that lasted about five minutes. 70 RCP/USA members were arrested.5 50 protesters were freed on "personal recognizance" and 20 remained in jail on reduced bonds as of Feb. 2, 19796 Avakian was released on bond of $5,000 cash ans ,000 collateral.7 These events were followed by the March 20 taking of the Alamo by Damian Garcia and others under the title of "Texas, Revolutionary May Day Brigade",8 Garcia's murder April 22, 1980 in Boyle Heights and the smashing of the May Day demonstration in L.A. by the LAPD. The Revolutionary Communist Party had reached it apogee at this moment but was soon to begin it decline. As of May 2, 1980 Avakian was still in the United States.9 and he would soon flee the United States for France and never return. Although all charges were dropped against the RCP/USA members, including the charges against Avakian, Avakian would never return. Garcia's murder would be all but forgotten.
If the RCP/USA' reaction to the Garcia murder enraged the LAPD, it would have the opposite effect on the RCP/USA's rank and file membership. Here, the RCP was riding high on its reputation for its confrontation with the police in Washington D.C. With Avakian awaiting trial, and their March 20 take over of the Alamo a recent memory, an organization which claimed to be ready to initiate an all out revolutionary war against the United States, the police and the Army, was up-staged by a couple of local punks who called their bluff. An organization of the magnitude that the RCP/USA claimed to be couldn't put the hurt on a local street gang who murdered their comrade, face-to-face, without masks in broad daylight in front of more than 50 witnesses. The RCP's refusal to help the LAPD implied that they could settle the score on their own, but their insistance that Garcia was murdered by the cops was a straw man. The RCP didn't strike back against either the police or the local punks who murdered Garcia. What it said to the rank and file membership was that if they were killed durning an RCP/USA sponsored activity, their death would not be avenged. This seriously undermined morale within the organization. After Avakian fled the U.S. people's belief that the RCP was all talk had all but been confirmed. These events marked a downward turn the the RCP both in terms of membership and revolutionary agitation. They had carried their organization to the brink, they could only escalated their confrontations with authorities or be seen backing away. The trend in the RCP was too make it appear that they were covertly under attack by authorities. By spreading rumors that they were being inflitrated by the CIA or FBI who were plotting to assasinate Avakian, while at the same time revising their rhetoric to make the organization appear more docile to the authorities, they silenced any internal opposition. A long revisionist trend followed and their membership dwindled. Their leadership appeared weak, their revolutionary catharsis had come and gone.
1. Los Angeles Times, April 30, 1980, pt.1, p. 28, col.1.
2. ibid., May 2, 1980, pt. 2, p.1, col. 3.
3. ibid., May 4, 1980, pt. 2, p. 1, col. 1.
4. ibid., June 13, 1980, pt 2, p.1, col. 4.
5. Washington Post, Jan. 30, 1979, sec. A, p. 10, col. 1.
6. ibid., Feb. 1, 1979, sec. C, p. 8, col. 1.
7. ibid., Feb. 2, 1979, sec. C, p. 5, col. 5.
8. Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1980, pt. 2, p. 1, col. 4.
9. ibid., May 2, 1980, pt. 2, p. 1, col. 3.