Jed Brandt

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Jed Brandt


Jed Brandt (b. Cleveland, Ohio) is an American communist. His writing, photography, design and artistic work has appeared in the Indypendent, and other publications. On March 1, 2010, Fox News television host Glenn Beck dedicated a segment to attacking Jed for a speech given at the Brecht Forum. Called a “neo-Maoist” by anarchists and a “bald communist” by Beck, Jed has never been shy about his beliefs.[1]

Early Life

Growing up on a dirt road in the back-country hollers of McDowell County, West Virginia, Brandt’s first memories were of coal miners on strike in the 1970s wave ofwildcat labor unrest that brought national coal production to a halt. His father was a miner. His deceased mother, Gina Brandt-Fall was active in the Miner’s Right To Strike Committee after she left Radcliffe College following student unrest. Gina taught him never to avoid a good fight, but to have the good sense to know one when he saw it. Jed’s rapid-fire Appalachian twang stayed with him to adolescence.

Moving to Chicago and then New York’s Greenwich Village, Jed was educated in the public schools of New York City and Chicago, moving often as a youth following his parents separation.

His first arrest was at age 12 in a direct action to disrupt Chicago’s annual Armed Forces Day Parade, the start of what would be many run-ins with law enforement. Though Jed was arrested for political activities over a dozen times, and assorted youthful indiscretions, he was never convicted. Jed was a founder of Youth Against Apathy, a high-school network with communists, anarchists and bohemian youth from across Northern Illinois.

At age 15, he was tried on felony charges of aggravated battery (on a police officer) after “unarresting” his first love from a squad of riot police in front of Chicago’s main military recruiting station on the eve of a threatened US invasion of Nicaragua. Hospitalized in the arrest with multiple contusions Though Jed’s own lawyer was skeptical of his innocence, he was exonerated when the bite mark allegedly delivered by Jed on the arresting officer’s hand did not match his slightly crooked teeth.

Jed was also briefly a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, where he burned an American flag of the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago, an act he said was in solidarity with all humanity and for “a world without borders.”

When Jed found out that the parent organization of his youth group did not allow gay or lesbian members, he refused the invitation to party membership without disavowing his communist principles. It was then he learned that you could not sacrifice solidarity, dignity or love to an authoritarian vision of social change.

Working Life

Jed has worked a variety of jobs, starting with distribution of flyers for a fortune teller on Bleeker Street on Friday and Saturday nights at the age of 12. Dropping out of Stuyvesant High School at 14, he took a job posting advertising bills for an art and movie poster supply shop before his parents moved him back to Chicago to continue his schooling at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, where Michelle Obama had graduated a few years before. At 16, Jed again left school. When his father announced that, since he had left school, rent was due at the beginning of the next month, he began work (almost) immediately.

Starting as a laborer unloading trucks, he moved on to be a dish-washer, waiter, janitor, bar back, bouncer, model, dry-waller and bike messenger, he returned to New York at 20 with an interest in philosophy to save money and work his way through college. He was hired as the night secretary at a camera supply import firm in Borough Park, Brooklyn.[2]

College activism

Jed studied philosophy and history at the City University of New York, Hunter College, with an emphasis on legal and social systems theory. In 1995, the state government announced drastic cuts in support for higher education threatening to push thousands of students out of college and retrench the quality of the education offered. Jed became a leading member of the student movement, arguing that the focus of public anger should be Wall Street policies ofneo-liberalism, not simply the Republican governor George Pataki.

On March 23, 1995, 15,000 high school and college students massed at City Hall where they faced 7,000 aggressive police who penned the students in and arrested scores, with several hospitalized. Following the students’ agreed protocols that no electoral politicians would use the gathering for their own purposes, Jed personally escorted then-Manhattan Borough President and Democrat mayoral candidate Ruth Messinger from the stage saying “today we speak.”

In the lead-up to the protests, Jed was hospitalized, and lost the use of his arm for a week, by the Manhattan North Taskforce of the NYPD after he has encouraged Hunter students blockading Lexington Avenue to disperse. No charges were filed when video of the incident showed that he had broken no laws. Jed did not take this case to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, as he said there was “no justice in their courts.” In 1996, Jed, along with student leaders from across the city, formed the Student Liberation Action Movement. He was the editor of the radical CUNY-wide tabloid Spheric, and then the Hunter College Envoy, founded by the editor of the National Guardian, James Aronson. Both newspapers received awards from the Campus Alternative Journalism Project for reporting, graphic design and hell-raising.[3]

Career

Jed withdrew from college to attend his mother as she was dying of breast cancer at the City of Hope hospice in Los Angeles. Following her death in the spring of 2001, Jed returned to New York. After the attacks of September 11, which woke Jed and his lover only a few blocks from their Tribeca apartment in 2001, Jed returned to political activism and joined the newly-formed New York City Independent Media Center as a production manager and editor of the Indypedent, a “free paper for free people”. The Indy grew to become the leading underground newspaper on the east coast, with circulation peaks over 100,000 copies during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Jed worked full-time that year to help prepare the city for Bush’s arrival and issue what became a resounding rejection of George W. Bush agenda.

Following the New York City Transit Strike of 2005, Jed was hired as a Communications Specialist by the Transport Workers Union Local 100. He worked there until 2009.

Jed was a staff illustrator for Vibe Magazine, and he done publication design and reporting for Left Turn, Political Affairs, Monthly Review online, and numerous other publications. His first investigative article was written at age 18 on the police torture case involving Chicago’s then-Commander of Detectives John Burge, for the now-defunct Revolutionary Worker newspaper. Burge had served in the military police in both Korea and Vietnam, and on his returned allegedly applied the same torture techniques learned in the US Army to brutalize over 200 suspects, almost entirely African-American men.

Jed believes love will save the day, and is currently in Kathmandu, Nepal, reporting on the Himalayan revolution.

Jed Brandt is a member of the Kasama Project and advocate for the formation of a new communist movement with a global perspective. [4]

SLAM

Jed Brandt was active in Student Liberation Action Movement.

SLAM in Philly

On June 5th 2009 in Philadelphia, Student Liberation Action Movement activists Kazembe Balagun, Lenina Nadal, Jed Brandt, John Kim, and Sasa Ynoa spoke about SLAM’s innovative approach to organizing and why we were fighting for free university education.

This was a combined event called “How do we build radical movements?” with Dan Berger, who (along with Chris Dixon) interviewed people in four revolutionary study groups – Another Politics is Possible (NY), the Activist Study Circles (SF), the LA Crew, and the New York Study Group – talking about leadership, organization, and politics.[5]

Love and Rage

Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation." was at CUNY, in 1996 led by Chris Day and Jed Brandt.[6]

"Support Bill Ayers"

In October 2008, several thousand college professors, students and academic staff signed a statement Support Bill Ayers in solidarity with former Weather Underground Organization terrorist Bill Ayers.

In the run up to the U.S. presidential elections, Ayers had come under considerable media scrutiny, sparked by his relationship to presidential candidate Barack Obama.

We write to support our colleague Professor William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is currently under determined and sustained political attack...
We, the undersigned, stand on the side of education as an enterprise devoted to human inquiry, enlightenment, and liberation. We oppose the demonization of Professor William Ayers.

Jed Brandt of Big Character Design signed the statement.[7]

"The Van Jones Effect: Right Wing Frenzy, Inside/Out Strategies and Red Scare"

"The Van Jones Effect: Right Wing Frenzy, Inside/Out Strategies and Red Scare" Wednesday, 16 September 2009, 19:30 The Brecht Forum.

Jed Brandt, Rosa Clemente, Harmony Goldberg, Arun Gupta, Randy Jackson, Jee Kim, Terry Marshall, Lenina Nadal.

The anti-communist screed launched by Glenn Beck forced forced Van Jones to resign as advisor to President Obama. While Beck’s media maelstrom is reminiscent of the 1950s “Red Scare,” it also reveals the deep fissures in American society. The country is facing off in terms of race and class, with Obama playing the Janus head to both the progressive forces that put him in office and a reinvigorated right.
In the background is the very real possibly (and dare say, hope) of a rising radical force that can push Obama to the left and reshape domestic and foreign policy.

Tonight’s activist panel looks at the ways in which the Van Jones effect opens up crucial questions to radical left forces How do radical left forces interact and relate to this administration? How do we push on critical issues like health care? How did the right wing capture momentum? How does the left get its groove back?[8]

Nepal

Jed Brandt is an American reporter writing from Nepal. His reports and photographs appear on jedbrandt.net. He is a participant of the Kasama Project, and is associated Freedom Road Socialist Organization.[9]

In the first half of 2010, two revolutionary journalists, Eric Ribellarsi and Jed Brandt of the Kasama Project traveled to Nepal to report on these events. [10]

Binayak Sen demo

Dennis O'Neil January 27, 2011:

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There is a NYC demo tomorrow for Dr. Binayak Sen (see my post earlier today, if you haven't read it yet). It's at the Indian Consulate--3 East 64th--at 3:30. I'll be there and I hope you will (esp. Daniel Tasripin, Fanshen Wong, Fire wolf Bizahaloni-Nelson, Jed Brandt, Ateo Laureano Bracero Peruyero, Robina Rai--and spread the word, y'all).

Left Forum 2011

The Mountains Tremble: A Reportback from the Revolution in Nepal:

Sponsored by: Kasama Project

Left Forum 2013

The Jackson Plan: The Struggle for Self-Determination and Economic Democracy in Jackson, MS Participants:

Student Organizing Across Generations

Hosted by NYSR Saturday, October 19, 2013 Professional Staff Congress/CUNY. 61 Broadway, New York, New York 10006

New York State has a long history of student organizing and mobilization. On October 19th, come hear from some of those organizers who were apart of past student movements, as well as those organizing now. Panelists will talk about their organizing experiences and also give analysis on the current student movement.

Speakers include:

"Morales / Shakur Center" student suspensions event

On October 28, 2013, a City College administrator suspended Tafadar Sourov and Khalil Vasquez, two students who led demonstrations against the administration’s illegal raid and seizure of the Guillermo Morales / Assata Shakur Community Center. The Morales / Shakur Center is a space that has existed at City College for more than 20 years and was first won in 1989 through a mass student strike and occupations throughout CUNY.

In response to the attacks on our student leaders, students and community say: WE ARE NOT AFRAID. Repression will not end the campaign to save the Morales / Shakur Center or the broader struggle to liberate CUNY for the people. Hundreds on campus and in the community will follow their example. Any punitive measures against Taffy and Khalil will only be a lesson to the people that the CCNY administration dismisses the people’s concerns and that the people must escalate their mass actions.
Taffy and Khalil are fighting for the people, defending the last autonomous campus space that serves the community and defending the legacy of the people’s revolutionary heroes. THE PEOPLE MUST DEFEND TAFFY AND KHALIL. The people cannot stand aside and look as the City College administration attempts to isolate them and promote fake sellout student leaders who want to negotiate away the Center. The Center was won through struggle and will be reclaimed through struggle.

Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee organized a meeting in Edgewater, 160 Convent Avenue,New York, Friday 8 November 2013, to organize resistance. Those indicating their willingness to attend on the Whenever website included Jed Brandt.[12]

WE ONLY WANT THE WORLD

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The Occupied Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2013 ·

WE ONLY WANT THE WORLD.

"All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies. Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more adv... See More — with Sopo Sofia, Amin Husain, Jenna Pope, Christopher Gunderson, Kazembe Balagun, Jed Brandt, Liam Wright, Mint AltoMints, Doug Greene, Lenina Nadal, Bikkil Sthapit, Brandon Jourdan, Priscilla Grim, Rachel LaForest, Eric Ribellarsi, Justine Ní Thonnaigh, Joe Ramsey, Kali Akuno and Callisto Pishtova.

"Speaks truth about terrorism, racism and Palestine"

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Tidal Magazine June 17, 2013.

Listen to this spoken word of an angry (yes, angry!) woman of color as she speaks truth about terrorism, racism and Palestine. Listen . Like . Share: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLUirMONjm0 — with Sofia Gallisa Muriente, Lamis Deek, Conor Tomas, Nariman Khalaf Rajab, Jordan Flaherty, Yasmin Hamidi, Laura Raicovich, Ashley Cunningham, Josh MacPhee, Anas Amireh, Rachel Smith, Winnie Wong, Andrew Kadi, Omar Khartabil, Jose LaSalle, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Anthony Yenafuk, Kareem Estefan, Gina Grimm Nagle, Ashe Hu, Hanan Thabet, Ravi Ahmad, Susan Gail Wilcox, Nicolas Haeringer, Ghassan Nasr, Kazembe Balagun, Raed Samara, Suzahn Ebrahimian, Amany Khalifa, Pamela Brown, Jerry Ashton, Marina Sitrin, Jed Brandt, Cindy Milstein, Manissa M. Maharawal, Summer Mamoun Husain, Nounie Hussein, Remi Kanazi, Faten Ali, Darragh Mosca Sheehan, Josephine Hilalia, Youmna El Khattam, Katherine Ramos, Amar Mamoun Husain and Omar Atway.

Rent Freeze Now!

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Lenina Nadal June 17, 2014;

Let's do this. Please share. — with George Ciccariello-Maher, Kate Cavanagh, Claudia Copeland, Maria Elena Perez, Maribel Cordero-Garcia, En Bey, Estevan Lee Roman, Beka Economopoulos, Ejima Baker-Morales, Crecensio Morales, Eulan Atkinson, Heidi Schwa, Stuart Ewen, Teresa Basilio, Jed Brandt, Eric Odell, Brian Hernandez, Christopher Gunderson, Janvieve Williams Comrie, Laurie Davidson, Mark Swier, Ramiro Campos, El Lopex, Jesse Ehrensaft-Hawley, Elisha Miranda, Prof. Antonio Nadal, Digna Sanchez, Elizabeth Walsh, Blandon Casenave, Kazembe Balagun, Dasha Munoz, Caridad De La Luz, Yasmeen Perez, Yvonne Enid Rodriguez-MacDonald, Lilo Carr Rivera, Esther Wang, Stomp Box, Dee PoeticalGenius, Esperanza Martell, Eddy Nelson Rivera, Tamara Czyzyk, Jessica Klonsky, Luz Schreiber, Carlos J. Serrano and Roger Bonair-Agard.

"LEFT FORUM: The Student Movement in NYC"

Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee organized an Event "LEFT FORUM: The Student Movement in NYC" in North Bergen 524 W 59th St,New York, Saturday 30 May 2015;

This panel will feature speakers from diverse organizations and coalitions that operate in NYC to explore different progressive struggles and how they tie-in to the revolutionary students movement being created by the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee.

Those indicating their support/attendance on a Wherevent page advertising the Forum included Lisa Gagliardo, Salma Ayai, Jessie Joyce Meredith, Delta Nueve, Angelica Hernandez|Angie De LaGhetto, Tracy Lall, Mary Kay O'Donnell, Rayn Cornielle, Eva Nidzeeva, Amber Stacks, Susan Kingsland, Amy Jaquez, Millie Roy, Andrea Haulcoch, Paola Andrea Lebron, Mariadefatima Mosconi, Asha Cameron, Adelita Karla Cambio, Mariana Cruz Munoz, Hawa Omar, Emma Pliskin, Sarita Ahmed, Alexia Garcia, Nerdeen Kiswani, Lucy Parks, Izzi Creo, Sulafa Sahel, Avia Avia, Carol Vanessa Hurtado, Nadezhda Krupskaya, Danica Gabrielle Pagulayan, Charlotte Kates, Miguelina Castillo Veras, Cassie Brown, Maha Akhtar, Gabriela Bortolamedi, Alyssia Thompson, Sharmin Sadequee, Ev Er In, Dina Bint Abu Ahmed, Grace Li, Lynn Lewis, Doha Ayad, Kerry McLean, Teresa Alba, Angelica Lara, Melissa Foster, Nana Naomeh, Rowayda Widdi, Elisabeth Koechlin, Char Emma, Sharon Shaji, Lenore Holz, Patti Cruz, Livia Sa, Noran Elzarka, Zeina Alturk, Marisa Dos Santos, Krystle Star, Sydney Denee, Alexandra Chipkin, Julie Chen, Claire Hunter, Amena Othman, Isabelle Nastasia, Sharice Richards, Hanalei Somar, Katherine Azcona, Teressa Raiford, Monica Joy, Katie Merriman, Aliyah Hakim, Lisa Marie Crawford, Michelle Natanzon, Aber Kawas, Ma Mo, Alina Shen, Lourdes Carrasco, Sarah-Ann Mathew, Johanna Galvis, Katrina Cortes, Myrlaviani Perez-Rivier, Lin Biao, Joanna Trimble, Samantha Kostmayer, Nadia Swanson, Leena Weddy, Ameera Habibi Tariq, Tiffany Fotopoulos, Mila Lebron, Patrick Conway, Andrew Rosdolsky, Sonny Obhan, Kassem Nasser, Joshua Eli, Michael Hisry, Jose Ponce, Thomas van Beersum, Richard Finkelstein, Daniel Dunn, Jesse Nevel, Caleb-Michael Files, Il Lupo Cattivo, Jacob Ertel, Eddie Rosa Padilla, Sam Smith, Khalil Vasquez, Benjamin Haas, Mahmood Shabazz, Xavier Renoir, Daniel Gibbons, Sean Kennedy, Jon Laks, Aahil Talal Abdullah, Rey Valentin, Daniel Golebiewski, Javal Ghalil Minor, Marc Durougeot, Agyei Tyehimba, Richard Heart, Percy Lujan, Suro Pak, Rajib Lovesramen Miah, Emilio Zapa, Jose Luis Medina, Deniz Solmaz, Marco Antonio Quiroga, Ateo Laureano Bracero Peruyero, Irving Apantenco, Simon Peter Tangney, Antonis Karatarakis, Abdu Salman, Richard Lynch, Nathaniel Phillipps, Mohammad Hamad, Jan Makovec, Dominic Wetzel, Kevin Kang, Alan Warsaw, Jed Brandt, Aldo Ulisses Resendiz, Frederick Sumpter, Ace LaBeija, Tafadar Sourov, Xsavier Daniels, Jose Ramon Garcia-Madrid, Vic Vaiana, Sławek Krulak, Kazembe Balagun, Ashoka Jegroo, Far Han, David Salay, James Cersonskysky, Vic Vaiana, Kareem Michael, Marianna Olinger.[13]

Ear to the Ground Project

Ear to the Ground Project;

We would like to express our deep respect and appreciation for everyone who took the time to talk with us, and the organizations that generously hosted us during our travels. Interviews were confidential, but the following people have agreed to have their names listed for this publication:

Most of those listed were connected to Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Jed Brandt was among those on the list. [14]

"Ungovernable"

From the Ungovernable website;

We pledge to create a resistance movement that makes Trump unable to govern our oppression; unable to deceive the people, to make the people accept his reign of hatred. We refuse to give hatred a chance to govern, a chance to roll back civil and human rights, a chance to deport millions of people, a chance to create camps and registries for Muslims, a chance to expand the prison industrial complex, a chance to expand its drone wars, or a chance to turn back the gains won by our struggles.
We pledge resistance to this renewed attack on our communities. As we resist, we will create new governing institutions, new economic relationships, and new ways of being human. What we will not do is sanction and/or normalize “overt” white supremacy.
Let’s start now. Let’s make the so-called inauguration day a day to resist a day to be ungovernable and plan for a new future and new way.
On January 20, self-organize a day of action. If possible don’t ask for permits assert your right to free speech and assembly, let it be a day of mass demonstrations, civil disobedience, and direct action and strikes.

In the evening of January 20 at 6pm join us for a nationwide town-hall on what comes next in these times.

Endorsers included Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Organization for Human Rights & Democracy; Kali Akuno; Kamau Franklin; Community Movement Builders; Lamis Deek; Al-Awda; Kazembe Balagun; Jed Brandt; Jared Ball; Rosa Clemente; Cliff Albright; Black Votes Matter Fund; Popular Resistance; Former Black Panthers - Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, Ashanti Alston.[15]

References