As a 1980 editorial in the Buffalo Worker’s Voice recounts, the recent whitesupremacist violence in Buffalo has a long history. This history should not be forgotten.
For some, the chilling, calculated slaughter of ten Black people by an eighteen-year-old whitesupremacist at the Tops Friendly Markets on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, New York on May 14, 2022, has already become a fading memory. The Buffalo massacre has been overshadowed by the estimated 100 mass shootings that have occurred in the United States since then, including the killing of 21 school children in Uvalde, Texas, and the July 4th shootings by a whitesupremacist in Highland Park, Illinois. For those in Buffalo, while May 14th is not some dim memory, it does come as part of a longer history. The massacre at Tops is only the latest entry in a historical ledger of whitesupremacist violence and terrorism, racial segregation and disposession, and state-sponsored repression and disenfranchisement that has long made “The City of Good Neighbors” one of the poorest, most under-resourced, and most besieged Black communities in the United States.
More than forty years ago, in 1980, an editorial adapted from the Buffalo Workers' Voice, opened with the sentence: “A murderous, racist onslaught against the black people in Buffalo is underway.” For those who don’t know Buffalo, what follows is astonishing. The editorial documents the history of whitesupremacist attacks on Black people in the city and describes a landscape of collusion between - and coverups by - the district attorney, the police, and the office of the mayor, all who have known ties to the KKK, local neo-nazis, and other whitesupremacist organizations. The racist white political class blamed so-called “Black agitators” for cross-burnings while Democratic Party misleaders like Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson revealed a diffident, disinterested, and indifferent concern for the city – reflecting a nation wide trend. “The current campaign of racist murder and terror in Buffalo is part of the national onslaught of savage police and KKK terror against the black people in the U.S.,” comments the editorial. “It is taking place under the Democratic administration of Jimmy Carter.” Left to fend for themselves, Buffalo’s Black citizens rebuked attempts by Jesse Jackson and the supine Black political class to blame Black protest for the expansion of U.S. fascism. Such assignation of blame is a true and tried tactic that is all too familiar to us today.
The only hope for survival, the editorial concludes, is Black self-defense. “The workers and black masses of Buffalo,” it argues, “know what is required to deal out justice to racist criminals: mass struggle, the militant actions of the masses themselves.”
We reprint the Buffalo Worker’s Voice editorial below.
Down with the Bestial Atrocities Against Blacks in Buffalo, New York! Take the Path of Mass Action to Fight the Racist Murderers!
(The following article is adapted from the Buffalo Workers' Voice, newspaper of the Buffalo Branch of the Marxist-Leninist Party, USA, October 15, 1980.)
A murderous, racist onslaught against the black people in Buffalo is underway. Last week, Parlour Edwards and Ernst Jones were brutally murdered and their bodies mutilated. And a black patient at the Erie County Medical Center was nearly strangled to death by a racist assailant who declared to him: “I hate all black people.” These latest atrocities follow the earlier racist executions last month of four black men by the “.22 calibre killer.”
Hand in hand with these murders, other attacks against the black masses are being carried out. A black auto worker was assaulted on his way home from work by two racist thugs. A gang of KKK racists harassed the mourners at the funeral of one of the victims of the “.22 calibre killer.” A witness to another of the “.22 calibre” murders was threatened by two racists if she testified. And three cross burnings have taken place in the past week.
It is unmistakeably clear that a systematic and conscious campaign of the most brutal and vicious racist murder and terror has been organized against the black people in Buffalo. Many people have expressed the belief that the KKK is responsible for these heinous racist crimes. But the police and government are trying to cover up the fact that there is a systematic campaign of murder and terror being carried out against the black people. District Attorney Cosgrove has even denied that the KKK exists in Buffalo -- a fact which is well known to all. The police are insisting that these murders are the work of one or several unconnected “lunatics.” Indeed, in order to cover up and protect the Klan, the police have even gone to the length of blaming the black people for the cross burnings -- charging that “black agitators” are responsible.
The Government Is the Organizer of the Klan and Other Fascist Scum
The police, the entire local government apparatus and the FBI are, in fact, conducting a conscious cover-up. In particular, they are anxious to conceal the existence of the KKK in Buffalo because they know that any serious investigation into its existence and activity will lead squarely back to the police department itself and into the office of the mayor, racist Jimmy Griffin.
It was the Buffalo police department which organized and recruited for the local KKK group in 1974-75 during the height of the government-organized fascist anti-busing movement nationally. At that time, racist and fascist “white power” literature was openly displayed and distributed from police precincts and the downtown police headquarters. The police also aided the local KKK to set up their “white power bookstore” on Bailey Avenue -- in particular, providing special protection for these fascist scum to save them from the wrath of the masses.
Moreover, the racist Mayor Griffin has direct ties to the local KKK. It was out of a split in his own party, the Conservative Party of Western New York, that the two local leaders of the KKK, Whiteside and Hand, emerged. These nazi vermin formed the “White People's Party” in 1974-75, which later became the local KKK. Mr. Griffin not only sat in the same political party with these two notorious racist gangsters, but he enjoyed their enthusiastic support when he ran for mayor in 1977. Why, the “white power bookstore” nazis even celebrated Griffin's election as mayor by shooting a young black man and burning campaign posters of the black politician who Griffin defeated in the election. Mr. Griffin never even bothered to verbally disavow this support of the open racists and fascists. Rather, he encouraged it, since he ran his own campaign for mayor on a racist basis in the first place.
Thus, when DA Cosgrove, Police Commissioner Cunningham and Mayor Griffin deny the existence of the KKK in Buffalo; when they deny that the current terror campaign is organized by a group of racist criminals; they have a very clear motive. Their motive is to protect their friends, the racist gang which they organized. Their motive is to keep the truth that the KKK and other racists are directly organized by the government hidden from the masses of people.
The current campaign of racist murder and terror in Buffalo is part of the national onslaught of savage police and KKK terror against the black people in the U.S. It is taking place under the Democratic administration of Jimmy Carter. And, of course, it also enjoys the “bipartisan” support of the KKK-endorsed Republican Party and its presidential candidate, the notorious racist reactionary Ronald Reagan. Across the country, the police are carrying out wanton murders and beatings of the black masses, especially the youth. The murder of Arthur McDuffie by the Miami police and the exoneration of these bestial criminals by the courts is not an exceptional “breakdown of justice” but a typical example of the racist “justice” enforced in cities and towns across the country. The government is also working harder than ever to organize and activate their gangs of racist thugs such as the KKK and other fascist scum. In Greensboro and Chattanooga and throughout the country, the Klan and other racist gangsters are carrying out terroristic atrocities against the masses with the full blessings and backing of the government authorities. And the capitalist news media is providing the Klan with maximum exposure and promotion.
Mass Struggle Is the Only Answer to the Racist Murder and Terror Campaign
The black people have answered these racist attacks by mounting powerful mass struggles against the government. The recent rebellions of the black people in Miami, Orlando, Chattanooga and elsewhere mark a new upsurge in the struggle of the black people in the U.S. The further development of mass struggle is the correct way to respond to the racist attacks of the KKK fascists and the government. Any suppression of the KKK racists and any protection of the black masses from racist murder and terror can only come from this mass struggle. The same government which organizes the racist gangs and itself directly carries out racist attacks against the blacks every day -- this government will never itself suppress the KKK, bring the racist murderers to justice or protect the black masses. No. The only fighting response is for the masses to organize -- consciously and systematically organize -- their mass struggle against the racist atrocities, the racist gangs and the government. Only this bars the way to even further and more brutal attacks and suppression.
The black people of Buffalo have a powerful sentiment for the mass struggle. They know that they must rely upon their own efforts, the efforts and struggle of the masses themselves, to put a stop to these brutal murders and protect the black masses from further atrocities. Just as in Miami and Chattanooga, the racist police department of Cosgrove and Cunningham, the racist local government of Jimmy Griffin, and the racist national administration of Jimmy Carter will never provide justice to the black masses. If the criminal assassins of the black people are to be brought to justice, it is only the masses of working people who will accomplish this.
For example, several days ago a racist goon hung a beef heart with a “KKK” sign attached to it in the locker room at Bethlehem Steel. The workers themselves delivered this racist hoodlum the proper response. As the police reported, he was “fortunate” to escape with his life. And again, in 1977 when the black youth destroyed the "white power bookstore” on Bailey Avenue to avenge the shooting of a black youth, it was this mass action which succeeded in driving these racist vermin underground for several years. These two examples show that the workers and black masses of Buffalo know what is required to deal out justice to racist criminals: mass struggle, the militant actions of the masses themselves.
The Democratic Party Is Telling the Black Community to Sit on Its Hands
Clearly, organizing the mass struggle against the current racist onslaught is absolutely correct and necessary. But certain so-called “leaders” are doing the dirty work for the Democratic Party. These Democratic Party hacks, local Jesse Jacksons and Andrew Youngs, have not made one single step toward assisting the masses to get organized for struggle which they so fervently desire. Rather than lift a single finger to organize the masses for struggle against these attacks, their entire effort has been concentrated on feverishly trying to prevent and suppress the mass struggle. Why, they have made their main demand -- a plea to the governor to call in the national guard to Buffalo in order to “prevent a riot.”
The government is making full use of these so-called “leaders” to help them “keep the black masses in their place.” They have even hurriedly flown the well-known “riot stopper” Jesse Jackson into town and sent him into the black community to help put out the sparks of revolt. Addressing a rally of 600 people on last Friday evening -- 600 people who came because they wanted to get organized to fight these attacks -- Jackson never once called on the masses to fight. He did not provide the masses with a single means for fighting. Far from it. He preached submission. He concentrated all his fire against the mass struggle and demanded that the masses rely on the government authorities to deal with the situation! Jackson is so blatant a traitor to the black people that he even denounced the 1968 rebellions of the black people to avenge the murder of Martin Luther King -- charging that these glorious rebellions were the reason for the “rise of fascism” with the election of Nixon as president. What a shameless traitor and Judas priest! To denounce the masses who rose in struggle against a most vile racist and fascist assassination as the cause of fascism! To preach instead that the black masses should simply allow themselves to be slaughtered at will in cold blood and should just “keep cool,” just “sit back and relax”!
But Jackson's treachery knows no bounds. He went further to denounce the masses for “getting diverted” by such an issue as six racist murders when they should be concentrating all their efforts on getting Jimmy Carter elected! The same Jimmy Carter who the fighting masses of Miami greeted with rocks and bottles and chants of “Hail to the Chief Racist!”
But the black masses will never go down on their knees to Carter and the Democratic Party and their servants who preach submission towards racist murder. The black people in the U.S. won the respect and admiration of the entire working class in the U.S. and of world public opinion because they have never submitted to even the most brutal and violent suppression of the racist U.S. imperialist government and the KKK and other racist terror squads it organizes. The entire history of the black people in the U.S. is a glorious history of the most militant and heroic mass struggle to win freedom and justice. The black masses will not commit suicide by going down on their knees in the face of racist murderers and begging protection from the racist government.
The MLP/Buffalo Branch stands for active resistance to racist and fascist attacks. We call upon the workers and all progressive and revolutionary people to render full and active support to the black people's struggle against these racist murders and terror campaign.
Down with the racist and fascist gangs!
Down with the flunkeys of the Democratic Party that preach submission to racism!
Mass active resistance to the racist atrocities!
“Down with the Bestial Atrocities Against Blacks in Buffalo, New York! Take the Path of Mass Action to Fight the Racist Murderers!” adapted from the Buffalo Workers' Voice, newspaper of the Buffalo Branch of the Marxist-Leninist Party, USA, October 15, 1980, and reprinted in The Worker’s Advocate, voice of the Marxist-Lenist Party of the USA. Available via Marxists.org
The Workers' Advocate
WORKERS OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE! 25¢
Volume 10, Number 8
VOICE OF THE MARXIST-LENINIST PARTY OF THE USA
October 20, 1980