Communist Workers Party
- 1 Origins
- 2 Pro-China...then North Korea
- 3 "Greensboro Massacre"
- 4 Aftermath
- 5 Backgrounds of those killed
- 6 One year massacre anniversary speech
- 7 "Transition to Communism"
- 8 Anti-military
- 9 Anti-Police
- 10 Anti-Apartheid
- 11 Attacking the Democrats
- 12 Asian-Americans for Equality
- 13 NASSCO3
- 14 "Time to assume leadership over the whole society"
- 15 Jackson campaign, 1984
- 16 New Democratic Movement
- 17 Infiltrating the Democrats
- 18 Democratic Party
- 19 Members listed
- 20 References
Communist Workers Party was a US based Maoist political organization. The group published an internal bulletin called The Expert Red, a theoretical journal called The Eighties, and a near weekly newspaper called Workers Viewpoint. The group changed its name to the New Democratic Movement in 1985.
Jerry Tung founded a Maoist group called the Asian Study Group in New York in 1973. The ASG later merged with other radical groups to form a new organization, also headed by Tung: Workers Viewpoint Organization. On the eve of the Greensboro shootings in November 1979, the WVO changed its name to the Communist Workers Party . The CWP was one of several groups established as part of a Maoist revival within the radical community. To the Maoists, the pro-Soviet Communist Party USA was deemed soft on capitalism and lacking in militancy.
The CWP emphasized unionization and self-determination for African-Americans and enjoyed some success in textile cities of North Carolina. The party established branches in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Greensboro, West Virginia, Colorado and other locations. Under this umbrella, it directed groups as the Revolutionary Youth League, the African Liberation Support Committee, and the Trade Union Education League.
The CWP followed the policies of Mao Tse Tung, Joseph Stalin, and later Pol Pot, and originally gave some support to the Islamists of the Iranian Revolution, which it held to be objectively anti-imperialist. It later changed its line on the Iranian revolution and backed the Iranian left opposed to the ruling Ayatollahs.
The Communist Workers Party had its national headquarters in a rundown commercial building at 1 East Broadway in New York City, in Chinatown at the foot of the Bowery. Active CWP chapters were found in Chicago, Philadelphia, Berkeley and Los Angeles, as well as in Greensboro. Until October 1979, the Communist Workers Party was known as the Workers Viewpoint Organization and published a monthly newspaper with the same name.
In 1972, Workers Viewpoint formed an alliance with Nelson Johnson's Greensboro, N.C., group, the Youth Organization for Black Unity . Mergers with other small Maoist Communist groups followed. Workers Viewpoint cadre were active in various left causes including support of Maoist revolutionary terrorist organizations in southern Africa through the African Liberation Support Committee.
Pro-China...then North Korea
Initially the Communist Workers Party was militantly pro-China. This cooled in the early 1980s and for a time the party was supportive of North Korea.
On November 3, 1979, an armed confrontation between members of the CWP and several Klansmen and Nazis ended with five Communist Workers Party members or supporters being shot dead. Three trials soon followed, and CWP survivors and their supporters claimed that their anti-establishment views incited a conspiracy to have them killed.
CWP leader Jerry Tung claimed that his father, Ernest Tung, a Chinese student at North Carolina State University, was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in Raleigh in 1950. Historian William Wei believes Tung’s claim and speculates that the alleged murder might have been a factor leading to the Greensboro confrontation. However, a State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) report, available in the NC State archives, expresses that the 1950 death of Tung’s father was a suicide.
In 1979, the CWP "was consciously trying to upgrade its level of militancy, to become more adept at combining legal and illegal tactics" (according to CWP activist Signe Waller, whose husband James WaIler was killed on November 3). This militant attitude was reflected in the actions of CWP members and supporters in New York City and in Greensboro. In New York’s Chinatown, CWP members and supporters violently attacked the offices of a critical newspaper and members of a rival, radical organization opposing the political direction of a CWP front group. In Greensboro, CWP activists had violent confrontations with a rival Maoist group, the Revolutionary Communist Party. This confrontational attitude reflected the tenets of Maoist communism: faithful communists are beset by enemies, including capitalist sympathizers within the communist movement.
CWP activists in Greensboro also sought to organize textile workers, and to displace other union activists who were seeking to accomplish the same objective. Dr. James WaIler, a physician who belonged to the CWP, got a job in a textile plant and organized the workers. Dr. Waller was later fired, after being accused of concealing his professional status.
The CWP sought to wage a campaign against the local Ku Klux Klan, attempting to disrupt a Klan showing of the movie Birth of a Nation at the public library in the town of China Grove. The CWP members believed local anti-Klan activists lacked sufficient militancy in confronting the Klan.
Planning a “Death to the Klan” rally near the Morningside Heights housing project in Greensboro on November 3, 1979, the CWP publicly challenged the Klan. CWP said that cowardly Klan members would not make an appearance and face the “wrath of the people.” The local Klan, however, sought the assistance of some neo-Nazis and responded to CWP’s challenge.
There were two government informers in the ranks of the Klan and Nazis. Edward Dawson, who had formerly been an informant in the Klan on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, was now informing on the group for the Greensboro Police Department (GPD). Dawson’s allegiance was not clear – depending on one’s interpretation, he was either a stooge of the GPD or a manipulator trying to work both sides. Dawson got a copy of the CWP’s planned parade route from the GPD.
Klansmen and Nazis (including Dawson) drove their cars to the site of the CWP rally. GPD officers were not present at the scene. Details of the ensuing confrontation between the CWP and the Klansmen/Nazis have been somewhat controversial. It appears that Bernard Butkovich, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), was doing undercover work among the Nazis.
Five people were killed, four of whom were CWP members. The CWP dead were Cesar Cauce, Bill Sampson, Sandy Smith and Dr. James WaIler. The fifth fatality was Dr. Michael Nathan, a physician who had worked with the CWP activists and who was married to CWP member Martha Nathan. There were no fatalities on the Klan/Nazi side.
The CWP held an armed funeral March in Greensboro, where Tung praised the “martyrs” and hailed the coming revolution. CWP members said that the shootings were part of a government plot, and they sought to “serve notice” on the purported plotters by (among other things) seeking to disrupt the national Democratic Party convention.
The Klansmen and Nazis accused of involvement in the shootings were subject to three trials. First was a state criminal trial on murder charges, where the defendants were acquitted. This was followed by a federal criminal trial on charges of violating the civil rights of the CWP members who had been shot – again, the defendants were acquitted. Finally, there was a federal civil trial, based on a lawsuit filed by the CWP survivors against the alleged shooters and against government authorities alleged to have culpably failed to prevent the shootings. In this third trial, the jury found the Klan/Nazi shooters civilly liable for the death of Dr. Michael Nathan, the only non-CWP victim. The jury also blamed the Greensboro Police Department for failing to do more to prevent the shootings.
Twenty years after the various trials were over, the CWP survivors – who had gone into other lines of work as the CWP dissolved – pressed for another investigation of the 1979 shootings. A private group sympathetic to the survivors –named the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission – held public hearings and conducted research into the shootings. Although noting some of CWP’s radical views, the final report of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission blamed mostly the “absence of police” and the Greensboro establishment’s resistance to necessary social change as the main causes of the shootings.
Reverend Nelson Johnson – a CWP survivor of the shootings and longtime Greensboro activist – has subsequently accused the Greensboro Police Department of destroying documents relating to the 1979 shootings.
The Greensboro massacre was in fact foreshadowed and prepared by an incident which the Communist Workers Party staged the preceding July when the Klan held a rally in the small town of China Grove, not far from Greensboro. At that rally the Klan showed "Birth of a Nation," D.W. Griffth’s epic glorification of the Klan. Members of the Communist Workers Party burst into showing in the middle of the film. Paul Bermanzohn led the group, which was armed with canes and two-by-fours. It was the Communists’ opening salvo in a revolutionary war modeled, in their imagination, on the Communist-led "liberation" insurgencies in the Third World whose dramas they aspired to enter. The Communist Workers Party members brandished guns and set a Confederate flag on fire, yelling "Death to the Klan," in anticipation of the provocation to come. A gunfight nearly broke out, and the Klansmen loudly vowed revenge. The CWP were tremendously excited by the near-violence, and typically hungered for more, perceiving their ability to foment violence to be a validation of their cause.
The subsequent organization of the fateful November 3 march and the decision to announce the march as a "Death to the Klan" rally in press releases guaranteed there would be more violence, and sealed the fate of the victims. One “open letter” to the Klan read, "The KKK is one of the most treacherous scum elements produced by the dying system of capitalism. We challenge you to attend our rally in Greensboro."
Don Pelles account of the "Greensboro Massacre"
Don Pelles recalled;
- I saw the caravan coming by. And people were lining up along the street and starting to yell “Death to the Klan! Death to the Klan!” And I saw the cars coming by rather slowly. And there were people in the cars, men, women…and I heard people hitting on the cars. And somehow, my first reaction was, well that was wrong. I mean just the idea of hitting a stick on a nice car and damaging it, but then I thought, “What am I talking about, these are the Klan.”…so then, they kind of sped up, and by then I kind of regretted not banging on one of the cars, so I kind of ran after it. So by then, I must have put my stick down…I tried to kick a car and I missed and I went running after it. But by that time they were speeding up and I stopped by the side of the road…and then I looked up and I saw silhouetted against the sky I saw a figure leaning out of a window with a long barrel pistol. I don’t remember it firing. I just remember him waving it. And then I heard people yelling. I looked around me and I realized I was kind of isolated. I had run up the street and there was nobody around me, so I started to come back towards the corner. There was this little exchange along the sidewalk. And I heard people yelling. I heard “Get the children.” And then I thought about just jumping over this little chain fence…and going back, but then I thought better of it and I kept going towards the corner. I saw kind of out of the corner of my eye the stick fight…and I kind of had this idea that maybe I should go join that, but I really didn’t relish that idea, I guess out of fear.
- Somehow I knew that there was shooting, but I didn’t hear any shots… I looked up. By this time I was back near the corner…and I saw Dorothy D. Blitz| firing a little pistol…At least she was waving it and I assume she was firing it. And I thought, damn, they’re shooting. And then I looked and saw Chekesha, Frankie Powell, down on the ground. There was blood on her forehead, but she was conscious…I remember saying to her, “can you walk?” and she said, “I don’t know.”… I was on one side of her. Kate White was on the other side and we got her under the arms and started helping her back towards the shelter and we turned the corner and were going to go around and hide behind the car…even though I don’t remember hearing any shots, I knew there was shooting. I felt a little pain on my cheek, just some birdshot. And a second later we were back behind the wheel of the car…. I don’t know if it was then, but at some point I said, “I’m hit.” And then I heard the voice of Jim Wrenn say, “I’m hit too,” but I couldn’t see him. At that point I could hear this roar of gunfire.
- The shooting stopped. I think maybe I saw Sandi first. She was lying on her back with eyes wide open and a little round hole right between her eyes and a pool of blood under her head. I thought, well, she’s probably dead, but if she’s not, then she’ll be cold so I took off my coat and put it over her. And then I walked away. And it was then that I saw César and he was kind of lying there with his mouth open and his shirt was pulled up and his stomach was kind of riddled with shots. Then I think I turned and saw Bill who was lying on his back by the recreation center and there were several people around him. Tom Clark. And Tom said “can you give him mouth to mouth?” Because he was working on his chest. I’d never given anyone mouth to mouth before, but I did. I put my mouth around his. I remember tasting vomit and trying to blow air into his lungs. And as I did, there was a sound coming back. And I thought oh, well maybe he’s alive. I was over where Paul Bermanzohn was. He had been shot in the head and the arm, but I don’t think I noticed the head wound at that time. He was bleeding profusely from his right arm. He had a big wound there. So I took off my shirt and tied it around his arm as a tourniquet really, to try to stop the bleeding.
- Pretty soon after that I ran in to Roz (Pelles) who was pretty frantic who had been looking for me. And she realized that she was in charge, as all the other leaders were gone. That all of the WVO leadership were either dead or incapacitated so she was kind of the ranking leadership there.
Response to acquittals
In response to the acquittal of the accused killers, the CWP attempted to storm the 1980 Democratic National Convention and succeeded in setting off firecrackers in Madison Square Garden.
During the convention, 150 CWPers stormed a Democratic fund-raiser at the Plaza Hotel, injuring six cops. The next evening a contingent of 200, armed with pick handles and Mace, tried to fight their way into Madison Square Garden, the convention site; 15 were arrested.
An account of the incident was published in Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 5, No. 31, August 25-31, 1980.
- Thursday, August 14, 9 p.m.: Among the crowds on the streets all over mid-town Manhattan we walked, breaking off in twos or threes to converge quickly at one point. In a few short minutes hundreds formed a tight brigade, running in formation. Rounding the corner off 34th Street, we moved onto 8th Avenue, stopping traffic and sending the pigs scrambling. The Secret Service jammed their walkie-talkies: “The CWP is coming, with helmets and clubs.” But it was too late, we had taken them by surprise.
- Brilliant in the glare of Madison Square Garden, the site of the 1980 Democratic Convention, lit up brighter than Yankee Stadium, the demonstrators stood for three long minutes, raising fists, banners, and ringed by helmeted defense teams with sticks. Passersby stood riveted and the air snapped as the chant grew: “Greensboro, Miami, Payback Time!” “WHAT IS THIS?” people were stunned. “This is something. They are ready. Their people got killed before and they are ORGANIZED.”
- The pigs swarmed to lock the Garden doors, clambering for their own helmets. Convention television coverage was interrupted to show this demonstration, a march like no other mere protest. Our troops about-faced and stepped out to depart. Some pigs went mad, broke ranks and charged, clubbing demonstrators including women and children. They drew .45 caliber revolvers, chasing people for blocks. A news photographer was beaten up, and a woman bystander kept screaming, “fascist pigs, fascist pigs.” But the pigs were outmaneuvered as the demonstrators organized to fight back. “Some of the demonstrators struck policemen so hard that their riot helmets cracked,” described a New York Times article. One cop from the 114 Precinct was quoted by the New York Post as saying, “They were very well organized. Every time we tried to grab them they splintered and reformed somewhere else. It was a very dangerous situation.” “I didn’t make a single arrest. Every time I tried to collar someone, 3 or 4 came up behind to hit me over the head,” complained a cop at the hospital later.
- After several minutes 26 pigs were downed, injured. Seventeen demonstrators were arrested, the rest dispersed into the night, prepared for another battle. As we kept on going, half of the police from the Midtown South precinct were paralyzed, and we pursued our victory. Some of our actions lasted late into the early morning hours of the next day. The whipped cops, the capitalists’ first-line enforcers, one who was seen to be bawling as he stood face-to-face with the militant demonstration, tried to get even. They arrested comrades, all who were seen to be standing and almost unmarked as they entered paddy wagons. After several hours inside Midtown South precinct, the comrades were sent to hospitals with head injuries and. some broken bones. What the sick pigs couldn’t do on the streets, they had tried to do behind closed doors, beating comrades with blackjacks and clubs, putting guns to their heads trying to get them to sing “God Bless America.” But even inside their own fortress they were defeated.
- While the CWP demonstration was electrifying the atmosphere outside, the CWP served notice inside the Garden, haunting Carter’s acceptance speech. As the speech began, Signe Waller, widow of Jim Waller, one of the murdered CWP 5, was standing within 50 feet of Carter. As a string of firecrackers went off, exploding his lies, she called out the truth, “Long Live the Communist Workers Party.” Minutes later, Dale Sampson, widow of Bill Sampson of the CWP 5, stood on a news desk and raised high her husband’s portrait, shouting, “Avenge the Murders of the Communist Workers Party 5!” As a Secret Service agent pulled her down, she fell on top of him, then walked off to hold a six-minute press conference right in the Garden. Then she moved out untouched into the street.
- This was not the only time the Secret Service security was left scratching their heads, blaming each other for the busted up defenses. Politicians and delegates gazed dumbfounded as elevator doors in their hotels opened, revealing the spray-painted message: “Carter, Reagan, Kennedy – Corruption, Murder, Crisis.” Our supporters penetrated the Garden arena at will. Using the highest security-clearance passes obtained by our supporters in high places, we breezed past the security. On Wednesday, a CWP supporter put the politicians on notice just before Ronald Dellums spoke, unfurling a banner at the top of the podium inside the convention hall. So disorganized was the Secret Service she spoke uninterrupted for two and a half minutes. Motioning to the crowd, she declared, “All of you people here–this is a charade and you’re voting in World War III and fascism.”
- This same CWP supporter shook the politicians again the very next day. Carter’s entrance to a fundraiser at the Plaza Hotel on Thursday afternoon was already delayed two hours by CWP actions. Then, after a ten-minute appearance inside, this comrade called him out as he rushed through the hotel. Another CWP supporter stood a foot away from Carter outside, and wiped the phoney smile off his face, spitting, “Jimmy Carter, you killed the CWP 5. It’s Payback Time for Greensboro.”
- We will continue to reach out to the American people and continue to set the pace for class struggle in the workplace, communities and schools. We’ve served notice–eviction day will come. If our five murdered comrades, Jim Waller, Cesar Cauce, Mike Nathan, Bill Sampson and Sandy Smith were alive, they surely would be proud of us.
Immediately after the gunfight, a dozen men were arrested for first-degree murder arid/or conspiracy to commit murder. Three more were arrested during the following investigation. Of these, seven voluntarily stated they were members of the Ku Klux Klan and three more said they were members of the National Socialist Party.
Neither the Communist Workers Party march nor the Klan Nazi group attack had any connection with a local Greensboro issue. The Death to the Klan" march was held in Greensboro simply because that is where CWP chairman Nelson Johnson lives and the local CWP is based. The members of the United Racist Front who responded to the CWP's baiting were not from Greensboro, but from Winston-Salem, I.incolnton and other towns and cities. Neither was the incident a racial confrontation. Four of the CWP leaders killed were whites. The confrontation was really the result of one violent street gang challenging another to come to a "rumble."
Communist Workers Party members and supporters arrested for possession of weapons and other charges included a group of fifteen persons from Philadelphia who had traveled as part of a 25-car caravan for the "Death to the Klan" march. These included Jody Ansell , Daniel Bartoletti, Christine Chin, Howard Chin, Steve Clark, Joseph E. Cook, Jr., Robert Dohey, David W. Fay, Carl Foushee, Lawrence Goode, Fred Gumminger, Phyllis Jones, Jerome Ludder, Hollis McCoy and Olphiand Ortega.
A second group of CWP activists had traveled to Greensboro from Durham. Those from the Durham group arrested included Leonard Briggs, Thomas Clark, Frank Cuthbertson, Francis Davis, Charles Finch, Gershon Gell, Christopher Lewis and Gregory Plante.
Following the November gunfight, a number of Communist Workers Party militants began claiming they were being harassed by police and local businessmen. The claimed harassment included the firings of CWP members Robert Manvella and Signe Waller, widow of James WaIler, from their textile mill jobs, and the arrests on December 10, 1979, of four party members who were charged with putting up illegal advertising posters. Two of these CWP activists, including Dale Sampson, whose husband died in the gunfight, were also charged.
As far as the CWP propagandists were concerned, the refusal of Greensboro authorities to drop incitement to riot charges against Nelson Johnson and two others arrested after the shootings, and the arrests of armed CWP members at a funeral march demonstration were also examples of' 'harassment.
Backgrounds of those killed
All of those killed had been active for years in militant and revolutionary groups that had taken somewhat less extreme positions than had the CWP.
- James WaIler, 37, a medical doctor, had been an early white member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee . He had been active in the Medical Committee for Human Rights in New York, and went to the Carolinas as an organizer of "brown lung" (byssinosis) disease screening clinics for textile mill employees. In 1978, then a member of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union Local 11132 at Cone Mills Haw River plant, Waller led a wildcat strike of some 200 employees.
- Bill Sampson, 31, was an ACTWU shop steward at the Cone Mills White Oak plant near Greensboro. He had been a student activist at Duke University and was a member of the New American Movement, which favors using "Euro-Communist" style tactics to build a broad base of support for Marxist revolution.
- Sandy Smith, 29, the only black killed, had moved to Greensboro a decade earlier to become a campus militant with YOBU. Later Smith was active as a Workers Viewpoint Organization militant in the Greensboro Association of Poor People. In 1977, while employed at a Cone Mills textile plant, Smith had been active in a union representation drive.
- Cesar Cauce, an employee of the Duke University Medical Center, was active in an organizing drive by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
- Michael Nathan, a medical doctor who died of his wounds two days after the shoot-out, had previously been a member of the Medical Committee for Human Rights and the Progressive Labor Party.
Among the wounded Communist Workers Party members, Paul Bermanzohn, 30, another medical doctor, had also been active in the left at Duke University since the early 1970's. Bermanzohn, like Sampson, had been a member of the New American Movement.
All of the slain CWP activists except Cauce were engaged in the CWP's program of infiltrating the Cone textile plants and textile union. Their emphasis was not on running CWP cadre and sympathizers for the leadership of union locals, but on taking over at the shop steward and grievance committee level.
One year massacre anniversary speech
Excerpts First Published: The 80’s, Vol. II, No 1, January-February 1981.
This speech was delivered on the first anniversary of the November 3, 1979 murder of the CWP 5.
When millions witnessed the incredible bravery of Jim Waller, Cesar Cauce, Mike Nathan, Bill Sampson and Sandy Smith charging into withering submachine gun and shotgun fire, the most conscious sensed that things were getting serious. That it would mark the entrance to the 80’s and quantum changes on the U.S. political scene, an epoch in which days equaled years, was understood by perhaps a handful. Few, however, in those dark days following November 3rd, could have foretold the biggest change in the American political scene, one of the most significant in the history of this country–the rise of the Communist Workers Party on the horizon, the sole effective opposition to the U.S. monopoly capitalist class...
To get out of this crisis the capitalists have no hope but world war for a new redivision of the world. Chairman Mao pointed out in 1946, “To go to war, the U.S. reactionaries must first attack the U.S. people.” This is the meaning of the murders of the Communist Workers Party 5 on November 3, 1979–Comrades Jim Waller, Cesar Cauce, Mike Nathan, Bill Sampson and Sandy Smith. The murders of our five beloved comrades were organized in the highest circles of the capitalist class and herald a new wave of repression against the people’s leadership that will make the Palmer Raids of the 20’s and the attacks against the Black Panther Party in the 60’s pale in comparison. To go to war, the capitalists must drop all pretense of democratic rights, as signaled by the FBI seizure of a newsman’s tapes in Boise, Idaho, and their storming of a Harlem apartment building in the middle of the night, only three days after the Supreme Court ruled that type of raid into home in pursuit of a suspect (in this case, allegedly Assata Shakur) to be illegal...
In this relatively short period of capitalist destabilization, for the CWP it is also a race against time. The task of the Party, to use the time given to us by the inter-monopoly contradiction to prepare for socialist revolution, is to make sure that the capitalists are not able to restabilize their rule with untold suffering inflicted on the masses.
This was not an idle threat. Like a people’s army, the CWP immediately charged forward to do political battle with the bourgeoisie. Its will and unity were galvanized by the hatred for the U.S. government’s murderous conspiracy and their Klan and Nazi henchmen. CWP members and supporters fearlessly, yet methodically, threw themselves into the campaign to avenge the CWP 5...
That the assassination of our beloved comrades and leaders Jim Waller, a Central Committee member, and Cesar Cauce, Mike Nathan, Sandy Smith, and Bill Sampson, not only failed to drive the CWP underground into the hole of reformism or to the frenzy of a terrorist sect, became clear on a cold, rainy November 11th. It was that day the Party and the masses buried our five comrades, defying a thousand guns of the government, the local and state police, and the National Guard...
The bourgeoisie and their henchmen, however, were not satisfied with the cold-blooded murders on November 3rd. They stepped up their vicious attacks on the Party nation-wide. Like criminals returning to the scene of the crime, Carter sent a hundred FBI agents to North Carolina to destroy evidence and harass the CWP and our supporters. A wave of redbaitings and firings swept through our ranks, fanned by the labor bureaucrats like International Association of Machinists president William Winpisinger in concert with the companies and the government. It was not mere coincidence that the attacks were directed primarily at CWP members and supporters who were mass leaders or leaders in trade unions and workplaces.
The most recent attack came at the NASSCO shipyards in San Diego, California. Three workers, two of them members of the CWP, were framed by the NASSCO bosses and the FBI. The yards have been a hotbed of struggle around dangerous working conditions. When two workers were gassed to death, the yards were ready to erupt.
In a cold sweat, the bosses called in the FBI and SWAT teams who dragged the three workers (the NASSCO 3) from their homes. They were set up by a scab low-life FBI informer. On top of this, IAM’s Winpisinger, an FBI stoolie himself, fingered them, other supporters, including union officials who came to their defense. Turning the attacks around, in California, people from all walks of life are organizing to “Indict NASSCO for the murders of Beebe and King,” “Stop FBI/NASSCO frameup,” and “Free the NASSCO 3”!
Respected and recognized mass leader Jose Calderon, a leading CWP member in Colorado and a folk-hero in the region, was arrested and charged with a felony for serving notice to John Anderson.
John Spearman, IAM Local 774 shop steward in a Wichita, Kansas Cessna plant, was the target of a redbaiting campaign personally orchestrated by self-proclaimed “socialist” Winpisinger.
Cathy Scolieri, president of International Union of Electrical Workers Local 853 in Oakland, California, was threatened with expulsion from the union for her support of the Communist Workers Party.
In cooperation with the government and the Budd Company bosses, union misleaders of Teamsters Local 22 in Martinsville, Virginia tried to pass a resolution removing Dori Blitz, a CWP supporter, from her position as shop steward...
But throughout this period of stepped-up attacks by the bourgeoisie, the CWP was stepping up its political offensive, blow for blow. On the one hand, we boldly went out to build broad united fronts from above and below under our policy of unity and struggle. Thousands of people from all walks of life wanted to know the real story behind the assassinations and what they could do to help. It was clear that the struggle to Avenge the CWP 5 was to go and had to go far beyond the CWP to reach the majority of the American people. The Party’s task, as formulated by General Secretary Jerry Tung, was to reach out to all who would listen, and proceeding from a spirit of uniting with them around this question, to struggle to ’ provide direction and organization for all who were being drawn into the struggle. Within thirty days of November 3rd, we began a national tour of the widows of the CWP 5, Party speakers like Central Committee member Philip Thompson, and prominent friends. In New York, for instance, attorney William Kunstler and anti-nuke activist Dr. Michio Kaku spoke at the forum. General Secretary Jerry Tung personally attended the event.
But through the Party’s offensive in the media and with the help of progressive friends working in the media, the blockade on the truth was broken. In city after city, through professional and consistent hard work, using every opportunity and every crack in the media, the truth about the Greensboro Massacre, the government’s role in it and about the CWP was getting through. The Village Voice carried a long front-page article by Blanche Boyd, which helped to bring the facts about Greensboro to the public eye...
Stepping out into a cold Chicago day after a speech, recently-announced presidential candidate Ted Kennedy found himself greeting an egg thrown at him by a CWP supporter screaming “Avenge the CWP 5!” It would be the first of many. As the shook-up bourgeoisie summed up, we were everywhere. And this would continue all the way until the end of the campaign. Carter, Reagan, Anderson, Mondale, Rosalyn, Civiletti–all knew and feared the CWP...
In Greensboro, meanwhile, the government was clumsily and desperately trying to stop the CWP’s rising prestige and moral authority. First the government arrested the Greensboro 6, trying to blame the victims for the crime. Nelson Johnson’s bail went up to a staggering $200,000 when the Klan and Nazi killers were walking the streets on bail as low as $4,000. Then the government set up its kangaroo court to make sure it could cover up its crimes and at the same time let the assassins off free or at most with a slight slap on the wrist. The jury was hand-picked to make sure anti-communism was the issue of the trial, not the murderers themselves and their government bosses.
In Colorado, CWP member Jose Calderon egged John Anderson in front of a national TV audience. In Greensboro, CWP 5 widows Marty Nathan and Floris Cauce stood up in court at the opening day of the Klan/Nazi trial to denounce it as a sham–also reported on national network TV. The government, after first murdering their husbands, then put them in jail. And in New York, we again served notice to Carter in front of the National Urban League. And again it was reported on national TV. Thus using the conscious focus of the media on building up the politicians, through these actions the CWP was able to crystallize the growing sentiment of the people, and make its presence known. By the time the Democratic Convention started, the CWP had already made its presence felt to literally tens of millions of Americans...
Yes, comrades, we are in a race against time. The bright future of a new revolutionary socialist U.S.A. and the new leadership for the American people exemplified by the deeds and the spirit of the CWP 5 is rising before us while the hell hole of dying capitalism, turning more desperate and more reactionary as it nears its inevitable doom. Under the leadership of the Central Committee headed by General Secretary Jerry Tung–we can and we will seize state power. The assassinations of our five beloved and heroic comrades will be the costliest mistake the bourgeoisie has ever made.
"Transition to Communism"
Attacking the Democrats
Asian-Americans for Equality
During the 1980s, the CWP was acquiring a local power base in Chinatown, in the form of a community group calling itself Asian Americans for Equality. The latter did not avow its connection with the CWP, but for years the two groups shared an office and phone number, and CWP veterans had a way of turning up as Asian-Americans for Equality leaders, notably in the form of its president from 1982 to 1986: Margaret Chin.
Asian-Americans for Equality resembles a familiar type of New York activist group, collecting grievances and brokering deals. In 1985 it made the news when it, charged that federal regulators had committed a “racist” act in closing the Golden Pacific National Bank. When the Chinese-language press raised questions about possible links between Asian-Americans for Equality and the bank’s owner, reporters from five of the papers received threats.
In 1981 Mark Loo, a Chinese-American member of the Communist Workers Party , his party comrade Rodney Johnson, and unionist David Boyd were charged with the attempted bombing of the National Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, California. The trio were represented by lawyer Leonard Weinglass.
Defending the NASSCO 3, soon became a major cause for the Communist Workers Party.
A cocktail party in support of the NASSCO3, was held at Ramsey Clark's house in New York on July 10. Sponsors of the event included Haywood Burns, Abe Feinglass, Juan Gonzalez, William Kunstler, Stewart Kwoh, Manning Marable, Margaret Ratner, Abbott Simon, Frances Borden Hubbard, Flo Kennedy, and Ramsey Clark.
"Time to assume leadership over the whole society"
He wrote an article for the party's The Expert Red, Feb. 1985, on the change in party tactics from one of traditional Marxist-Leninist agitation, to a conscious program of infiltrating US America's institutions.
- Organizing other leftists like ourselves seemed sufficiently important at the time. We came to learn however that it was indeed important, but hardly sufficient. It was time to assume leadership over the whole society...Rather than storm City Hall, we are donning tuxedoes, and preparing to enter through special invitation. We are learning to use our skills in ways that are proving far more dangerous to the ruling class, and far more beneficial to the masses to whom we have dedicated lives of service.
- These days we not only organize but will also begin to deliver. We will not be content to petition the state legislature, we want to be the state legislature. It is truly an exciting time to be an American revolutionary.
- You want me to be a Congressman? Fine, its what my mother always wanted for me anyway. It's all very legitimate. For other new comrades as well, the road is wide open - we can follow any career path we choose, so long as it helps the Party lead and serve the American people.
- For many veteran comrades however, this is a change in lifestyle. They are the comrades who spent the last ten years, in what seems to me like a different world.
Jackson campaign, 1984
New Democratic Movement
At a convention in mid-1985, the CWP formally dissolved itself, in its place arose a new organization, the New Democratic Movement, devoted to establishing “local power bases.” Jerry Tung, general secretary of the former CWP, explained the idea to the assembled faithful. “[O]nce you get people elected or appointed to office, you can award contracts to friends.... When you can raise money for political purposes, when you do it in the right place in the right atmosphere, and look right, and the [mainstream] party bosses are there, then that money makes them take you seriously.” The meeting closed with a rousing chorus of the “Internationale.”
Infiltrating the Democrats
It would not seem easy for a left-wing sectlet to build a serious power base in Chinatown, then as now one of the most politically conservative neighborhoods in New York City. Instead, the CWP alumni played what can in retrospect be seen as a brilliant crosstown gambit. The Village Independent Democrats, the venerable liberal club, had fallen on hard times. As former CWP members flooded into the Village Independent Democrats they brought cash and credit to help it wage its political battles.
The entry did not go unresisted. Opponents in the Village found a prominent outside voice in Illinois Democrat Adlai Stevenson III. Stevenson had come to national attention as a victim of a bizarre run-in with cult politics: While he was winning his state’s Democratic nomination for governor in 1986, two followers of Lyndon LaRouche were managing to get on the ticket as his running mates in the same primary. Stevenson felt himself obliged to renounce the Democratic nomination and run as an independent. He lost.
After losing, Stevenson had plenty of time to reflect op the havoc that cults can wreak in mainstream politics. In 1987 he wrote an open letter to Village Democrats, urging them to reject the local district leader candidates of the Village Independent Democrats, which had chosen to make common cause with “CWP-style extremism.” An outraged New York City political establishment mobilized, like antibodies, to expel the alien intruder: in this case not the CWPers, but Adlai Stevenson. The Village Independent Democrats sent out a response charging Stevenson with “red-baiting” and “resuscitat[ing] the work of Joe McCarthy.”
The letter was signed by such eminences as Congressman Ted Weiss, since-indicted State Senate Minority Leader Manfred Ohrenstein, City Council member (later Manhattan Borough President) Ruth Messinger, and Manhattan Borough President (later Mayor) David Dinkins.
Asian Americans for Equality began to go big time. Its annual banquets in Chinatown garnered greetings from not only an array of Democratic officeholders, but also such Republicans as Senator Alfonse D’Amato and Representative Bill Green. Since the mid-Eighties, AAFE has taken in more than $2 million in grants from the State Department of Social Services and Division of Housing and Community Renewal and from the Lower East Side Area Policy Board, a funnel for federal monies.
Louis Proyect first ran into Line of March when he was a member of Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) in the early 80s. They and the Communist Workers Party were the only left groups who worked in CISPES. The CWP, a Maoist sect, was best known for its disastrous confrontation with the KKK in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1979 that left five of their members dead. They had made the mistake of choosing to utilize armed self-defense as a tactic rather than building a mass movement against Klan terror.
In 1984 the CWP, LofM and the CISPES leadership decided to support the Jesse Jackson presidential campaign. For Marxists coming out of the CWP and LofM tradition, voting for Democrats is a tactical question. If there was ever any tactical motivation for voting for a Democrat, Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition might meet all qualifications. Many people, including Proyect, hoped that the Rainbow Coalition could develop into a third party but Jackson was too much of a careerist to make the kinds of tough choices Ralph Nader made. One year after the end of the Jackson campaign, the CWP dissolved itself with a number of its members finding a home in the Democratic Party, including Ron Ashford, a very capable African-American who represented the CWP in CISPES. Today Ashford is a HUD bureaucrat.
An April 11, 1985 list of was found in the Communist Workers Party papers in the Tamiment Library New York. It included the phrase "membership status" after each name, indicating that it as a CWP membership list.
- Rachel Paddock
- Steven Latta
- Justin Schwartz, MI
- Alan Tonetti, Cols
- Terri Rutter, Logan
- Vicky Steller, NY
- Michelle Mathews, Cols
- Mary Nemerofsky, Balt.
- Michael Schumacher, Balt.
- Joy Maish, Balt
- George Brandon, Balt
- Joanne Palmisano
- Paul Holmbeck, Dur
- Ebon Cleo Hale
- Yvonne Williams
- Lilian Yamasaki
- Robin Toma, LA
- Christopher Hassel
- Jean Quan
- Roger Blacklow
- Marion Yuen
- Bill Chong
- North Carolina History Project, Greensboro Shootings
- Communist Workers Party U.S.A., Civil Rights Greensboro
- "American Extremists: Militias, Supremacists, Klansman, Communists & Others," by John George & Laird Wilcox
- Red Tide Rising in the Carolinas
- http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=10745 FP magazine, Through Survivors' Eyes By: Barbara Kay FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, November 17, 2004]
- Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report, Sequence of events on Nov. 3, 1979, Chapter 7
- Klehr, Harvey. "Maoists Move in on Manhattan Dems." Our Town, 2 August 1987
- City Magazine, Spring 1991, The Resistible Rise of Margaret Chin Richard Brookhiser
- Red Tide Rising in the Carolinas
- Red Tide Rising in the Carolinas
- City Magazine, Spring 1991, The Resistible Rise of Margaret Chin, Richard Brookhiser
- Curriculum Vitae of Leonard I. Weinglass
- Workers Vanguard, June 19, 1981, NASSCO3 Railroaded, San Diego Co Entrapment Threat to Labor
- Memo on NASSCO3 Support Work, from the general secretary Jerry Tung, written by Kurt, 7/81
- [The Expert Red, Feb. 1985].
- City Magazine, Spring 1991, The Resistible Rise of Margaret Chin, Richard Brookhiser
- City Magazine, Spring 1991, The Resistible Rise of Margaret Chin, Richard Brookhiser
- Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist August 3, 2013A critique of Bob Wing’s “Rightwing Neo-Secession or a Third Reconstruction?”