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Is The 'Black Lives Matter' Movement Being Hijacked By The Revolutionary Communist Party?

Sophia Li |
December 31, 2014 | 2:27 p.m. PST

Web Producer

If you’ve been to any large protest recently, chances are you’ve seen people holding signs or wearing black T-shirts that advertise REVCOM.US.  

So what is REVCOM.US and who are the people behind it? As @rpnixon tweeted, they are members or supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party, a group which often vocalizes its demand for a “revolution, nothing less.” 


According to Carl Dix, a founding member of the RCP, the mission statement and strategy of the RCP is one of “mobilizing people to fight the power as we transform ourselves and others for a revolution." Usually this means having a bunch of people show up to protests with signs advertising REVCOM.US, selling Revolution newspapers and talking about why a revolution is needed.

At first glance, the RCP seems like it cares about black lives and the black struggle. After all, they come to almost every Black Lives Matter protest and often even lead the chants. They call for justice and an end to police brutality. They make their presence known.

But that’s exactly the problem that many protesters have with the RCP.

Many say the group's self-promotion and protesting tactics are a distraction from the true message of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

READ MORE: #Ferguson And #Garner Grand Jury Decisions Set Twitter On Fire

One of those critics is community organizer Billion Godsun, who first began noticing issues with the RCP in 2011. Godsun said he initially thought the RCP was made of people from “outside our community who had a sincere interest in helping our community,” but later felt like the RCP was more interested in leading his community than being a part of it.  

Godsun, who spoke at USC on Dec. 4 for a teach-in event about police brutality, described RCP supporters as "opportunists."

“They’re trying to take these opportunities to make themselves the Messiahs of the oppressed people,” Godsun said.

He described one instance during a Trayvon Martin protest when people were marching and RCP members jumped in front to try to make it look as if they were leading the march. There have been numerous accounts of the RCP trying to co-opt meetings and agitating protests.


This is especially problematic to protesters like Godsun when the RCP supporters taking up speaker time are white. Many protesters including Godsun believe that the role of allies is to listen in these spaces.

But the RCP supporters don’t seem to understand that point. Amina Gonzalez, a member of the Los Angeles Revolution Club (which is led by the RCP) said she feels like the content of what people say is more important than their race.

“All the white people are coming to these marches and are saying they stand with the ones who are resisting, it’s a very beautiful thing,” Gonzalez said. “The question then isn’t check your privilege, it’s how to understand the problem and solution.” 

READ MORE: Protesters On Why They Stand Against Injustice

When I suggested that white allies can still stand with oppressed peoples by listening and following, Gonzalez called that kind of thinking “identity politics” and “divisive.” Both she and Dix described a colorblind approach to solving oppression.

Considering how much the RCP talks about the struggles faced by black folks, it's odd how adamant its leaders are that race shouldn't matter in addressing these inequalities.

In both of my conversations with Dix and Gonzalez, each RCP supporter talked for 45 minutes or more about black lives this, black bodies that. Neither had any problem focusing the issue on race until I brought up the critique that white voices are crowding out black ones. After that both insisted race shouldn't matter. 

“The stuff that people are mentioning on social media, that someone’s a white person, that doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re fighting for,” Gonzalez said. “Is that the world we want to live in, attacking people in unprincipled ways?”

If protesters are raining on RCP supporters, it's not a one-sided attack. Godsun recalls a few RCP people criticizing his intelligence and methods, and he doesn't seem to be the only leader within the black community that has received flack from the group.


In general, the RCP members and supporters I spoke to were not receptive to the complaints that protesters have lodged against them. In response to critique that RCP supporters are instigators and agitators, Gonzalez said such criticism comes from "purely tactical differences" and implied that people who dislike the group do so only because they hate communists. 

While that may be true for some, there are plenty of protesters who are accepting of communism but just don't like the RCP.

In fact, most critics of the RCP dislike the group because it's more of a cult of personality, where everyone worships Bob Avakian, than a communist organization. Critics have a problem with the RCP's devotion to their beloved leader, Avakian, not their supposed communism.

On the RCP website, one post addressed the common criticism that the Party is "a bunch of people with no connection to the masses who care only about self-promotion" and said these claims "ARE LIES AND OUTRAGEOUS DISTORTIONS."

Posters put up by RCP supporter Keith James at the USC memorial for Mike Brown. (Sophia Li / Neon Tommy)
Posters put up by RCP supporter Keith James at the USC memorial for Mike Brown. (Sophia Li / Neon Tommy)
Despite what the RCP says, these claims are very much rooted in reality. One example happened on Dec. 4 with a RCP supporter named Keith James. A few USC student organizers for the teach-in event got into an argument with James after they saw him putting up Revcom.us posters around a memorial for Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

James told the organizers that he wasn't doing anything wrong. He didn't think there was anything wrong with going into a space others had created for honoring black lives lost and co-opting it to spread the RCP name. This is the same guy who, when speaking to me two days before the USC incident, dismissed criticisms of the RCP as "shit that goes on on the Internet."

When I contacted him again days later, James declined to talk about the incident or respond to any specific complaints people have made about him. He told me to go off what Dix and Gonzalez said about outsider complaints, which wasn't much. They never acknowledged any wrongdoing or potential harm done on their part. 

RCP supporter Keith James at a protest. (Photo by Daren Mooko)
RCP supporter Keith James at a protest. (Photo by Daren Mooko)
This is problematic because of how easily supporters of the RCP blend in with other protesters. There's been little media coverage of the RCP disrupting protests, but not because it hasn't happened.

News outlets aren't the only ones who haven't seemed to notice tension around these "revolutionaries." LAPD said it has no knowledge of the RCP, which could mean officers aren't noticing which protesters are being peaceful and which ones are causing problems.

According to Godsun, there are enough protesters educated about who the RCP is that "it's creating a division within the protests that is not needed right now."

While RCP supporters can agree with community leaders on the institutional causes of racism, it's in their solution to oppression and their methods of achieving revolution where they largely differ from and piss off other protesters. The RCP loves to talk about race and inequality in its critiques of capitalism, but it fails to address those issues in its colorblind, "everyone's united" solution. And that's where the RCP steps on people's toes.

“If you’re an outsider and you truly want to help, you’re going to support what people are doing,” Godsun said. “They’d rather try to fight and dictate what people are doing.”   

Reach Web Producer Sophia Li here. Follow her on Twitter here



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