A National Day of Mourning and Unity of the Oppressed

Each year busloads of tourists descend on Plymouth, Massachusets to see and hear the "official Thanksgiving story." perpetuating a myth promoted wholeheartedly by Plymouth business. In 1996, those of us who gathered to commemorate the National Day of Mourning exercised our right to march to Plymouth Commons at the same time as the Mayflower Society had their traditional Pilgrim Progress parade. We managed to slightly inconvenience the commercial order. Yet, the Plymouth police kept the peace by temporarily rerouting the Pilgrim parade. In 1997, the Pilgrim Progress parade was scheduled at 10 am and no one disturbed it.

However, when the nearly 250 people of all colors and ethnic backgrounds decided to have a march of no more than 15 minutes to the Commons, the Plymouth police assaulted the marchers, ordering us to disperse, to get off the streets. No sooner was the announcement made than the first arrests took place. Many demonstrators, including women and children, were peppered sprayed, while men and women targeted for arrest were wrestled to the ground, roughed up, handcuffed and thrown into police vans. In all, 25 people were arrested - on charges of disorderly conduct and assault and battery on police officers. Last month a settlement favorable to United American Indians of New England (UAINE)-the organizers of the event-- was reached.

This year, we are here again. Latinos for Social Change organized a contingent to attend the gathering in an effort to extend the education of our constituency about the issue of genocide of native people in the U.S. We salute the initiative taken by UAINE to give people the opportunity to find an alternative to yet another celebration that distorts history and only serves to further business interests.

The history of the Americas is a history of oppression, resistance and struggle. In general, all European invaders (French, Portuguese, Spanish, and English) brought with them a system based on private property and greed. Those were their guiding principles. They set out to exploit the soil and the people of the continent, and all those who were in the way had to be eliminated. All colonizers acted accordingly and for centuries carried a war of destruction against native people.

Eventually a new class of exploited workers was formed in the Americas. The exploitation of labor has continued up to this day. To maintain that exploitation, history has been rewritten to hide the horrors the capitalist system brought to these shores from its very inception. However, social change fighters have always kept an eye on the past. This is why some Latin American revolutionary movements adopted the names of native leaders, such as the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement in Peru, and the MAPU Lautaro in Chile.

We, the oppressed, must regain our history, starting from the native struggles of resistance and continuing to workers struggles for liberation and socialism. It is in this context that we support the gathering on the National Day of Mourning. There is also an old saying in the US left that reads: "Don't mourn, Organize!". We support that concept and encourage all those who against the tide come to Plymouth every year to continue to organize, all united and supportive of our diversity, to change this divisive society once and for all. UNITED, VENCEREMOS!

November 1998