April 22, 1980: 20 Years Since the Police Murder of RCP Comrade
Damián García Esta Presente
Revolutionary Worker #1051 April 23, 2000
April 22, 2000 marks the 20th anniversary of the murder of Damián García by police agents in Los Angeles. Weeks earlier, Damián and two other comrades climbed on top of the Alamo, brought down the Texas flag and replaced it with the red flag. They denounced the Alamo as a symbol of oppression and called on people to demonstrate on International Workers Day, May 1st 1980. Today two members of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade who have been helping with the updating of the RCP programme talk about what Damián García means to this new generation of rebels.
Day in and day out, our generation lives surrounded by the same four walls, whether it's in prison or in school--the truth hidden from us. In school there is only one version of the Alamo. Our textbooks boast of the heroism of all those who fought with their bare hands alongside Davy Crockett. But just because it's in a book doesn't mean that it's true or that we're going to believe it. They have their murderous heroes and their shrines of plunder. Well, we have our heroes and our symbols. To us Damián is a symbol, a symbol of hope for all the people in this country who hate the way things are.
When Damián stood at the top of the Alamo he was the voice of all the people who have been afraid to speak up, those who are not allowed to speak--all those who have been silenced. Damián understood the people, he was like them. He worked as a meatpacker, he was out there with the people in the ghetto; and he knew them, their lives and their stories. Damián understood their struggle, and the people listened.
The truth lives in the memory of all those who witnessed true heroism, the heroism of three revolutionary communists who dared scale the walls of the Alamo and threw down the rag that symbolizes death and oppression to millions--and in its place put up a bright red flag. On March 20, 1980 Damián told the entire world: "We've come to set the record straight about the Alamo. This is a symbol of the theft of Mexican land. A symbol about the murder of Mexicans and Indians. And a symbol of oppression of Chicanos and Mexicanos throughout the whole Southwest."
Damián García lived what the Alamo represents. Damián grew up in the projects of San Bernardino, the son of Mexican immigrants. His father was denied jobs because he was Mexican. As a child, Damián was told to wear long sleeve shirts to cover up his arms so that people wouldn't think his elbows were dirty. Damián was always trying to find a way out. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara and was the executive director of La Casa de la Raza in the mid-'70s. But he wanted more. He hooked up with the Revolutionary Communist Party and dedicated his life, not just to the liberation of his raza but of the entire world. Damián always wanted to be amongst the people. He was well known by the people in the projects of East L.A. and in the manufacturing district of downtown L.A. where he worked in the meatpacking industry.
If we think of Damián's life as a song, then it's a song that a lot of us wake up to every morning. Twenty years later, there is a generation of fighters whose blood boils just like Damián's. We've never met him, but his life represents some of our highest aspirations. We've gone through life being told that our lives mean nothing, that we can't do anything, that we're hopeless. We're not hopeless, this system is hopeless! They offer us nothing but oppression and incarceration. We want to live in a world where women don't hunch over a sewing machine for most of their waking day, where people don't have to count their pennies to eat, where youth aren't beaten by the police because they are young or because their pants are too big or their skin is too dark or they're bald, where people aren't dragged out into the street wearing bed sheets every time the police come beating at the door in the middle of the night. We want a better world and we've proven our dedication in our fight against Prop 187 and Prop 21, and every October 22nd.
Our generation must hear Damián's message. His blood was not spilled in vain. The system stole Damián's life from us, they killed him with the hope of silencing him and to scare people off. The blood that ran from his wounds is fuel to our revolutionary spirit. The system killed Damián, but in his death we've come alive. We know the stakes are high, but Damián was a strong revolutionary who put his life on the line to fight for a bright red dawn and we will pick up his flag, soaked red with blood.
After Damián's death, Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, wrote, "[To] devote your life, and even be willing to lay it down, to put an end to the system that spews all of this forth and perpetuates it, to live and die for the cause of the international proletariat, to make revolution, transform society and advance mankind to the bright dawn of communism--this is truly a living, and a dying, that is full of meaning and inspiration for millions and hundreds of millions fighting for or awakening to the same goal all around the world."
To imagine Damián and his comrades at the top of the Alamo putting up a red flag and calling for revolution to people around the world, it sets our insides on fire. Our impatience burns to throw down with this system. It makes us want to pick up the gun and fight! The system killed Damián, but what they did makes us want to fight even more. We want to continue where he left off.
Damián García is dead, but in his death we've come alive. We will never forget what the system did to him and what they continue to do to the people. What they do to all the people who are murdered at the border and are shot down in the street by pigs.
We're young and running out of patience. We are pissed off that the system kills people bit by bit. They try to kill our dreams and our leaders, but they will never extinguish our fire. We will keep on fighting until we see revolution, and if we die like Damián did, then our death will not be in vain. It will be heavier than Mt. Tai because it was for the people and for our desire to see this system destroyed!
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)