Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary March Puts Houston Pigs Against Wall


First Published: Defend the Houston Rebellion!, The Worker Special National Supplement, n.d. [January-February 1978]
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Houston, Texas, January 13.

Chief of Police Caldwell and Mayor McConn were holed up in the office on the top floor of the concrete compound that headquarters the Houston police department. They had been there for hours; this was no job for some two-bit lieutenant, the big boys would have to handle it themselves. They had put the Houston police force on twelve-hour shifts and called the off duty cops, stale from last night’s drunk, in for the day.

The side streets leading to the station were blocked and guarded. Behind the barbed wire surrounding the buildings, a couple tons of pork in blue jump suits fingered transparent shields and batons. Others watched from the roof. Twenty-five more stood at the front entrance. Inside the station out of sight 200 waited. They looked like they were under siege.

Cup after cup of coffee. The Chief and the Mayor paced and telephoned in the plush office which gave them a view of the street. Behind them loomed steel and glass towers. Gulf Oil. Pennzoil. Tenneco. Bank of the Southwest. Shell. A daily reminder of who they served... the castles of their capitalist masters.

It was a cold day in Houston–39 degrees. Why were they sweating? Their eyes darted to the road, to the cement bridge over the freeway that divided downtown from the Northside barrio. They watched from their fortress which stands between the barrio and the headquarters of Houston’s rulers, like the overseers guarding the slavemaster’s house watched the shacks of the slaves. Afraid.

It was noon. The time had arrived. On the other side of the bridge past the rows of run-down houses, taco stands, small shops and bars, opposite the rows of falling-apart yellowish buildings of the Irvington Courts housing projects, a group of small kids ran along the sidewalk trying to keep up with the flatbed truck. It was starting! All week long it had been attacked, threatened–anxiously, eagerly awaited. Now the demonstration was forming up as contingents rolled up in the trucks. Chants filled the air. “Abajo, Abajo con la represion! Arriba, Arriba la Rebelion!” Defend the Houston Rebellion! Free the Moody Park 3!

Young men and women with babies in their arms stood on the porches beside mothers, fathers, grandparents, surrounded by children. Three and four generations of Chicanos standing together. People waved. Threw their fists into the air. A young Chicano stood with clenched fist. Determined. He threw his head back and laughed, the joyous laugh of the slave who has once seen the flames of rebellion licking at the master’s house. They watched and waited in the streets around Moody Park.

Moody Park! A run-down park in the midst of the barrio. A few trees and picnic benches. A place to hang out, to get out of the hell-holes like Irvington Courts on a hot summer night. On the surface it looked no different than a thousand other parks in the barrios and ghettos of the country. But Moody Park had come to stand for something–rebellion–and today all eyes in Houston and many around the country were on Moody Park.

It was here at Moody Park that the Chicano people had risen up last May at the Cinco de Mayo celebration. There had been a real fiesta. A festival of the oppressed. The people had driven the police out of the community with a shower of rocks and bottles. Cop cars, overturned, were ablaze in the street.

From among the people, leaders came forward, to organize the fighting against the police, luring them away from their cars across the street so they could get the sound trashing they needed. As one cop later testified, “’I was afraid I wouldn’t live through the night.” The police had to throw up road blocks to keep people from coming to join the fighting. And as cops ran for their lives, the cry of “Justice for Joe Torres!” and “Cops are the Tool of the Rich Man’s Rule” rang out over the sirens.

The people of the Northside would never forget. Even if it had been for only two days, the sight of the enemy running away, wounded and afraid, had been burned into their hearts. Nothing could take that away, not the armed occupation of the neighborhood that had followed, the arrests, the sight of police vans parked in the streets, the pigs swarming all over Moody Park, lounging on the picnic tables armed to the teeth.

The people had drawn the line at Moody Park. There had been a yearlong struggle for Justice for Joe Torres, beaten and drowned by six cops in the Buffalo Bayou–a filthy sewage creek which runs from the downtown out to the ship channel where the oil tankers carry the black gold of Houston’s super-rich to the Gulf. A year-long struggle which saw the courts hand down a $1 fine to their murdering pigs. A Chicano’s life was worth one dollar!

All the lies and treachery of the so-called community leaders, the vendidos, the ones that practice the politics of delivering people to their masters, all their preaching about relying on the courts, going through legal channels, keeping cool and staying down stood raggedy in the light of the burning cop cars. In Moody Park, the people got more justice in two days than they had seen in a lifetime.

“This can’t be happening!” gagged Houston’s authorities in a fit of stricken disbelief. “We left this kind of stuff behind us with the ’60s.” True enough, they had shot at revolution. Their pimps and vendidos had back-stabbed it. They’d even doped up some people’s minds enough so it got lost in the fog. But since they keep on oppressing people, people fight back, and the seeds of revolution never die. Moody Park brought that point home with a terrible force they felt in their guts.

The Houston rulers sent their cops in to put down the rebellion. They swarmed over the neighborhood arresting more than 40 people. One woman told how they barricaded her doors and made people stay inside for hours until finally in the middle of the night, they ordered them out at gunpoint, made them lay on the ground and hauled them to jail.

The squealing began. The capitalist press screamed it was senseless violence, a drunken brawl. The “community leaders” denounced the rebellion.

Defying all this, revolutionaries stepped forward to defend the rebellion, to say it was great what the people had done to the police, that it was only a small taste of what they deserved. In unison, the press and the vendidos screeched that they had “discovered” communists and “outside agitators.” The Revolutionary Communist Party, the only political party to defend the Moody Park rebellion, was singled out for attack. Three members of People United to Fight Police Brutality, the organization which had led the yearlong struggle for Justice for Joe Torres and which the RCP had initiated, were arrested. None of them backed an inch off their revolutionary stand. Speaking of the justice the people had dished out to the cops, Travis Morales said, “I don’t think this will be the last time.”

And today, January 13, hundreds would demonstrate and march to uphold this rebellion and defend the three revolutionaries, the Moody Park 3, who had been singled out by the Houston rulers. Travis Morales, spokesman for People United to Fight Police Brutality, Mara Youngdahl, also a member of the National United Workers Organization, and Tom Hirschi, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, were to stand trial March 12 on charges of “felony riot” carrying sentences of 20 years in jail.

“Our trial is a trial of the rebellion” , said Mara Youngdahl. “We are to be an example of what happens to you if you dare to challenge the right of the slavemaster to enslave... I consider it a compliment to be one of the 3–singled out by the enemy, in the vain hope of stopping this struggle. When your enemy likes you, that’s when you need to worry.”

In the past months the word of the Houston Rebellion and the Moody Park 3 had spread from coast to coast. Committees to Defend the Houston Rebellion were formed in many cities. The National United Workers Organization had taken the struggle into the plants, defying the bosses, throwing the Houston Rebellion back in their faces and saying this is our rebellion.

Many had come more than a thousand miles to Houston just for this march. From Detroit, Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, they had come to stand with the rebellion against the oppression of the Chicano people, against all oppression. These were the people the Chief of Police had blasted at a press conference as “outsiders.” “Outsiders,” hell! They were a credit to their class–working class fighters who hated oppression so much that they would come all this way to stand with people they had never known. They were not just fighting for their children, for their own livelihood. They were fighting for all, knowing that the defense of the rebellion and the Moody Park 3 was a blow to the common enemy–the imperialist bloodsuckers who rule this country.

The air was tense. All week long a fierce battle had been raging in Houston. On one side stood the capitalist class and their flunky cops. On the other, the masses of people and the vanguard Party of the working class, the Revolutionary Communist Party, and all the forces defending the rebellion. The Houston pigs had gone wild to stop this march. They had arrested 18 people including the Moody Park 3 for “organizing a communist demonstration.” These cowardly scum had given a “brave” beating to Travis Morales, kicking him in the head while he was handcuffed in jail. They had harassed and followed members of People United and the Revolutionary Communist Party with their stinking red squad. They sent their cockroach friends, the “community leaders,” people like Vlamie Garcia, now an advisor to the Chief of Police, into the Northside to tell the people to stay away from the march, that these communist “outsiders” were coming to make more trouble for the people and then leave.

The organizations sponsoring the march made it clear that the march would go ahead. Yes, the march would make trouble. It would make trouble for the capitalists and their killer cops. It would make trouble for the low-life leeches wearing the mantle of “community leaders,” defenders of the system, mouthpieces for the capitalists who had sold the people out time and again for their own careers.

Unable to stop the march with arrests and harassment, on Friday morning, January 12, at 10 o’clock Chief of Police Caldwell called a press conference. He sat in his plush office high up in the police department with his press before him. “Chief, if you want us to jive you good coverage, you’ll have to jive us good parking spaces,” quipped one reporter. The Chief laughed. It was all very chummy. The press had served him well in the past, maintaining a blanket of silence over the fight to free the Moody Park 3 and the march. He turned them on and off like a faucet.

The Chief began. Beside him were posted a copy of the Worker, a broadside announcing the demonstration and a poster. Pointing to the Worker, he whined that “these communists have devoted an entire issue of their newspaper to get people to come to Houston to intimidate us into dropping the charges. The police department will not be intimidated.”

He blustered, “Those communists that have come to this town to visit are going to get a very narrow view of it because they’ll be looking at it from the county jail window in the event that there is any threat to lives or property in this community during this pep rally that they are holding.” When asked what plans the police department had, the Chief chortled, in the death rattle of a dying class, “We’ll be prepared to deal with it.”

One hour later, in front of the County Court building, a militant picket line formed. A press conference was underway. Travis Morales put it straight up. “There are members of the Revolutionary Communist Party involved in this march. They’ve helped to lead People United to Fight Police Brutality since its beginning. I’m a Communist and I’m proud of it. Only the Revolutionary Communist Party is going to lead the working class and the oppressed people to revolution... Caldwell and his murdering cops better keep their bloody hands off this march.”

A Chicano woman got her two kids ready to go out. Today, she would march. She would go into the streets with hundreds of others to defend the Moody Park rebellion and demand that three revolutionaries be free. She remembered the night of the rebellion when People United to Fight Police Brutality had marched into the park carrying their banner which said “Joe Torres Dead, Cops Go Free, That’s What the Rich Call Democracy.” That night, when the pigs started hassling these fighters, she had defended them, telling the people in the park that the cops better get the hell out of there and leave them alone. Today she would again defend these fighters who were facing trial on March 12, and she would defend the rebellion. She understood that somehow taking a stand in the streets today was important for the future, that she had to be there, no matter what.

Around Moody Park cars filled with people from the neighborhood circled the block, honking their horns. Hands reached out the window for newspapers, as teams of people selling the Worker, Revolutionary Communist Youth and Revolution sold out of their hundreds of papers. Across the street in the parking lots of the local car wash and La Fiesta market, people parked their cars. It was bitterly cold but people were leaning out the windows and sitting on the hood to get a view and hear the speakers at the rally. A woman in one of the cars poked her head between the four kids sitting in the car to talk. Recently her son had been beaten by the Houston pigs. “It’s about time that people came out like this,” she said, “the rebellion was the only way.”

There were no police in sight. Plainclothes in pairs sat low in parked cars, trying to disappear into the seats. They knew they were being watched. A fifteen-year-old Chicano said, “Cops are the tool of the rich man’s rule. All they have is their badge and their gun. They’re afraid of the people, that’s why you don’t see them out here today.” No. Today they were all holed up in their pig pen. These strutting bastards who cruised the streets of the Northside like a pack of dobermans beating up on the people were behind barbed wire today.

“It’s time the cops got their own heads cracked.” The hatred of the people poured out. “Don’t matter what color they are,” said a 73-year-old Black man. ”Police is police. They got the same uniform. Do you want your son or daughter beat half to death? Cops got guns, clubs. It’s right that people rose up. The police is brutality. I’ve known these dirty MF’s, how they are, for a long time.”

Across the street with their backs to the wall of the Stardust ballroom stood some of the vendidos. Behind them on the walls were spraypainted slogans. Defend the Houston Rebellion. Free the Moody Park 3. They had done their dirty work. They had spread their poison and, together with the cops, they had managed to scare some people into staying home. But the scene unfolding in Moody Park was a nightmare come true for these flunkies. The people were in the streets and they were listening.

Mara Youngdahl spoke. “We don’t want to loosen the chains. We don’t want to have the chains gold plated. We want to break the chains.” Cheers went up from the crowd.

Travis Morales stepped to the microphone. “Whatever outcome we see in this struggle, all our struggles will continue to bring forward revolutionary leaders... and there’s nothing they can do to stop the growing consciousness of our struggle which will put us in a position to hit the capitalists with even bigger blows in the future.”

And new fighters had come forward, people like Edward Gallegos, a 17-year-old Chicano from the Irvington Courts projects. A member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, Gailegos faces trumped-up charges for “attempted murder” for defending the Moody Park rebellion. At the rally, he said: “Just yesterday, the chief of pigs said that the communists are just using the youth to do their dirty work. But that’s wrong, because those MF’s are doing the dirty work! They put our youth, our people in the lowest paying jobs with the worst conditions. They send us to roach and rat infested stores like La Fiesta over there. But we can’t take that and we’re not going to take it because the youth of America are standing up and fighting back.”

Like the Moody Park 3, Edward Gallegos is a living refutation of the capitalist lie that the slaves are content to stay-on their knees. The bold defiance of these fighters is a living message to these capitalists: you can jail a revolutionary but you can’t jail the revolution.

The powerful revolutionary message of this rally rang out in Moody Park. One speaker, Bill Klingel, made a statement on behalf of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party: “What is the stand of Moody Park? It’s the stand of righteous cop-kicking rebellion and we want to say proudly, that stand is our Party’s stand. Moody Park meant, if it was even for one or two nights, that these posturing, arrogant pigs had to jump back because they got a rap on the head. But we need more. Our Party says we have to go forward from Moody Park, forward from rebellion to revolution... And we know what’s coming because we can see it here and around the world. We’re coming into a period of war and a period of revolution. And if the capitalists thought they saw some bad action in the ’60s, they better wait until the ’80s!”

The lines were drawn as the march began. At the Friday press conference Chief Caldwell had warned of the “communist threat,” saying that he just wanted “people who participated to do so with their eyes wide open.” Maybe he thought that by telling people that communists were leading the fight against oppression that the people would just, want to stay oppressed. He was wrong. As the marchers moved down the street, red flags and banners flying, the people of the Northside poured out of the shops and houses. Dozens joined in. Thousands reached out for leaflets. Some pointed with grins to the picture of the Moody Park rebellion. Yes Chief, their eyes were wide open. They knew the point of this revolutionary march, and these people dug what they saw.

An old man stood on the corner, the lines in his face telling a story of a lifetime working in the fields. The rebellion? He smiled. Buena. Good. Por la gente. For the people. Would there be a revolution in this country? He stood looking at the march and nodded. His eyes, too, were wide open.

Cars from the neighborhood pulled in behind the march, honking their horns. Some drove their cars around and around the block stopping up the side streets so that the march could pass. A man drove his pickup truck along following the march route. His rifle was above the seat. “I have two sons in that march,” he said. “If anyone tries to mess with the march I’ll defend it.” The people were deadly serious about this march.

The Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade contingent, all in red jackets, marched past in step. They swung three-foot long wooden sticks in a drill. Many other marchers had thick sticks. If the cops attacked, blood would not flow just one way.

A group of kids on bicycles rode in formation in front of the RCYB contingent. Organized in teams of three, they had planned this bike contingent themselves to stand with the march and protect it from attack! Near the front of the march a huge red banner proclaimed: Moody Park–Seed of the Future–From Rebellion to Mass, Armed Revolution! It was this message carried into the streets by the Revolutionary Communist Party that the rulers feared the most.

The revolutionary message of this march had reached deep into the hearts of the Chicano people of the Northside. The march was like a magnet drawing people out, out of the house, onto the porch, into discussion, reading papers, into the streets. There is a powerful revolutionary force seething among the Chicano people, and today the red banner of the Party of the working class was calling it into the streets. And more, this Party was bold in saying that only by overthrowing the oppressors by violent revolution could the Chicano people, together with the whole working class, win their freedom.

The vendidos cringed. The Chief shuddered. They had felt the force of the Chicano people in Moody Park, and here today in the streets of the Northside another powerful scene was unfolding. People were taking up this revolutionary march as their own. Their attempts to isolate the march from the people of the Northside by screaming “communists” and “outsiders” had backfired. They had picked up a rock only to drop it on their own feet.

The more these hated cops ranted about how terrible and threatening this march was going to be, the more eager many people were to see this fearsome event, to check it out, even join in. The more they ranted, the harder people listened to the march’s revolutionary message.

The march rounded the corner and headed toward the bridge on the freeway. An army of the people going right into the face of the enemy. The people broke into a run, double time over the bridge leading out of the barrio. The steel and glass towers of the super rich rose in the distance.

Ahead was the police station. Hundreds of cops stared out from behind the barbed wire, the barricades, the glass doors. “Asesinos, assassins!” the cry went up from the march. “Put the pigs in the pokey and the people in the street!” Fists flew into the air as the anger of the people aimed at the hired killers of the slavemasters. For all of their bluster about the demonstrators getting a narrow view of the county jail, who was it that had a view from behind barbed wire today? The march stopped.

There, right in front of their police station, right up in their face, Travis Morales read a statement from 19 Texas prisoners, “Break down the prison walls and let the eagles fly!!! Bitter experience has taught us that waiting for justice from the capitalist system–the enemy of the oppressed–is like waiting for the sun to stop its heat. Now we must join in all rebellion against the enemy, regardless of the consequences. We have deep respect for the Moody Park 3 and the beautiful and courageous people who have supported them during all their struggles against our enemy. And now we urge all oppressed people, and all prisoners of Amerikka to embrace the struggle of the Moody Park 3 because their fight is our fight; their enemy is our enemy; their victory is our victory.”

A Chicana woman who had brought her kids turned to one of the marchers. “If anything happens to me, take care of my kids. I don’t care what happens, I’m going to stay here in this march.” The cops didn’t move. They were stuck there in their pen, up against the wall. They were the ones that stood isolated and exposed today, and they twitched nervously.

Why were they unable to attack the march? What made them afraid? 450 determined people armed with wooden sticks was certainly part of it. It was clear that if the cops had attacked the march the people were ready to deal. But this was not the main thing. The main thing was exactly what the Chief was so loudly denying–the march had the support of the people, particularly in the Northside. The cops own cowering stance made a liar out of the Chief. The Chicano people of the Northside, and many others, were with this march. It was striking a blow that needed to be struck.

But the fear of the authorities went deeper than this. More seeds of the future had been planted by this march, seeds of revolution.

The march had defied them. It had challenged the right of the oppressor to oppress the people. And it had pointed to the day when a storm would rise, not just for one day, but a mighty storm which would sweep the slavemasters from the face of the earth.

The march turned. In the window on top of the police station the people could see the Mayor and the Chief looking down. Two “brave” generals hiding in their plush office. Caldwell tried to slip behind the curtain, but thought better of it and came back out again. The bicycle brigade did “wheelies” right up in the cops’ faces. “Pigs!” The kids flipped ’em the bird!

The march headed back over the bridge to Moody Park. People were waiting for the march to return and again clenched fists filled the streets. The main body of the march turned the corner into Irvington Courts to meet the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade contingent marching in through the projects from the other side led by Edward Gallegos.

A woman came out from the Irvington Courts, where everything is scarce. She carried three bags of groceries. “You must be hungry after marching all day.”

In the aftermath of the demonstration the Houston authorities freaked out. On Tuesday, Jan. 16 members of the RCP, the RCYB and People United went into the city council meeting to demand that the frame-up of Edward Gallegos be stopped. While they were inside the chambers, the city hall filled up with cops. In blatant and cowardly retaliation for the political beating they took on Saturday, they busted Travis Morales on phoney charges of “felony spray-painting” and held him on $10,000 bail. Two days later Tom Hirschi was busted on a so-called traffic charge.

They have unleashed their SWAT team in the Irvington Court, targeting a guy who was busted in the rebellion. Their press has systematically blacked out any word of Gallegos’ trial. When a press conference was called across from Moody Park, only one radio station showed. As a spokesman was running down the authorities latest attempts to crush the struggle, a shot rang out nearby. A police red squad car (CID) was spotted in the area.

The People United phone has been ringing as people in the Northside call in the latest maneuvers of the pigs. It is clear a big battle is shaping up for the March 12 trial of the Moody Park 3.