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Workers Vanguard No. 1112

19 May 2017
The closing date for news in this issue is 16 May.

Workers Vanguard

Arkansas Legal Lynching Machine

Abolish the Racist U.S. Death Penalty!

In just eight days—from April 20 to 27—the state of Arkansas executed three black men, Ledell Lee, Marcel Williams and Kenneth Williams, and one white man, Jack Jones. Governor Asa Hutchinson had originally ordered eight men to die in the span of eleven days, which would have set a record pace since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The four men who received stays of execution remain on death row. The pretext for the executions was to beat the clock on the April 30 expiration of midazolam, a component of the lethal injection cocktail for which no alternative is readily available. The real point, however, was to kick-start the machinery of death in a state that had last held an execution in 2005.

The assembly line of death in Arkansas has thrown a spotlight on the depravity of capital punishment—and the racist U.S. ruling class that wields it. Witnesses to Kenneth Williams’s execution reported that after injection he lurched forward as many as 20 times; he was observed convulsing, jerking and making sounds that were audible in an adjacent room. The scene recalled the 2014 Oklahoma execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed in agony for over 40 minutes before succumbing.

Ledell Lee’s 1993 conviction for the murder of a white woman had all the hallmarks of a racist frame-up. From a crime scene covered in blood, the only physical evidence linking Lee to the murder was the phony “forensic” identification of three hairs that supposedly came from a black man. The trial judge and the assistant prosecutor were sleeping together. Lee’s court-appointed trial attorney presented no alibi, and the attorney at his post-conviction hearing was so drunk, he was taken away for drug testing. From death row Lee told a BBC journalist: “My dying words will always be as it has been ‘I am an innocent man’.” The Innocence Project and the ACLU fought to get DNA testing of the crime scene’s physical evidence. The state refused. Ledell Lee is no more. (read on)

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About the ICL




V.I. LeninLeon TrotskyThe International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) is a proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist tendency committed to the task of building Leninist parties as national sections of a democratic-centralist international. Our aim is the achievement of new October Revolutions—nothing else, nothing other, nothing less. The ICL bases itself on Marxist historical, dialectical materialism and seeks in particular to carry forward the international working-class perspectives of Marxism developed in the theory and practice of the Bolshevik leaders V. I. Lenin and L. D. Trotsky and embodied in the decisions of the first four Congresses of the Communist International as well as key documents of the Fourth International such as the Transitional Program (1938) and "War and the Fourth International" (1934). We also look to James P. Cannon, a leader of the early American Communist Party who was won to Trotskyism and went on to become a principal founder of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), working in close collaboration with Leon Trotsky. The origins of the ICL are in the Spartacist League/U.S., which began as the Revolutionary Tendency in the SWP and was bureaucratically expelled in 1963. Our ICL "Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program" was modeled on the Declaration of Principles adopted at the 1966 founding conference of the SL/U.S.

Adopted at the Third International Conference of the ICL in early 1998, the declaration presently exists in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, German, Russian, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Greek, Korean and Tagalog. In this post-Soviet period, marked by a deep regression of proletarian consciousness, we continue to be guided by Trotsky's statement that "the task of the vanguard is above all not to let itself be carried along by the backward flow; it must swim against the current." Reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution!