Communists in Congress? (1) Hansen Clarke (D) Michigan
Recently, Florida Rep. Allen West received considerable flak after claiming that there were up to eighty “communists” in the US Congress.
Rep. West was certainly correct in spirit. There are dozens of members of the US Congress who have strong ties to one or more of America’s several influential Marxist organizations.
This is the first of a series of profiles of Congress members with documentable connections to the US hard left.
Hansen Clarke (D) Michigan:
Michigan freshman Democratic Congressman Hansen Clarke represents the state’s 13th District and serves on the Homeland Security and Science, Space and Technology committees.
A former Chief of Staff to Michigan’s pro-Marxist Congressman John Conyers, Hansen Clarke seems to be following in his former mentor’s political footsteps.
Reaffirming a relationship that began several years ago, Congressman Clarke personally presented awards at Greater Detroit DSA’s 12th annual Frederick Douglass-Eugene V. Debs Dinner on October 1st at UAW Local 600 in Dearborn, Michigan.
Clarke presented Congressional citations to far leftist, the Reverend Ed Rowe and to the Restaurant Opportunities Center-Michigan.
Hansen Clarke’s relationship with DSA goes back to at least 2002.
In that year, Greater Detroit Democratic Socialists of America contributed to the primary campaign of Hansen Clarke, who ran against incumbent State Senator Ray Murphy in the 1st District. The local did some early fundraising and conducted a postcard campaign on Clarke’s behalf to its members in the 1st Senate District. Hansen Clarke achieved an upset victory, winning comfortably by thirteen points.
Greater Detroit DSA boasts a “simple but effective electoral strategy.”
We endorse progressive candidates in competitive races where the focused efforts of a small group such as ours can tip the balance in favor of the progressive candidate. This strategy has served us well in electing state representatives such as Steve Bieda, Alma Wheeler Smith, John Espinoza, Aldo Vagnozzi, and Fred Miller, and state senators such as Gilda Jacobs and Hansen Clarke.
Hansen Clarke also has a close working relationship with one of the US’ most extreme Marxist-Leninist organizations – the pro-North Korea/Cuban Workers World Party.
In 2008 Hansen Clarke worked closely with Detroit leaders of the Workers World Party on the house foreclosures issue. Clarke drafted and sponsored SB 1306 with long time WWP collaborator Reverend Ed Rowe of Central United Methodist Church, a co–initiator of the Moratorium NOW! organization. Rowe further pledged ongoing support to the coalition, whose office is in his church. Most key leaders and personnel in Moratorium NOW! are also Workers World Party activists. Writing in Workers World on Jan. 14, 2008, Detroit WWP leader Kris Hamel discussed the origins of Moratorium NOW!
“More than 400,000 jobs have been lost in the state since 2001. Now, that economic crisis has extended nationwide… According to a report issued on June 5 by the Mortgage Bankers Association, approximately one of every 11 mortgages in the U.S. was past due or in foreclosure at the end of March… Falling home values have left many homeowners with mortgages in excess of the value of their homes… The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions is organizing around the state to win passage of SB 1306, a two-year moratorium introduced into the Michigan Legislature by state Sen. Hansen Clarke. In 2007, activists with the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice began to popularize the idea of a foreclosure moratorium based on the emergency powers invested in the governor by the state constitution during times of disaster. Demonstrations were held at the state capitol in Lansing demanding that Gov. Jennifer Granholm declare a state of economic emergency and impose a moratorium to stop foreclosures and evictions.“
Hansen Clarke became heavily involved in the WWP campaign, in 2008, when a Detroit family, the Maxwells, were faced with losing their home. According to the Workers World, “the dumpster was returned to the Maxwell home on the morning of April 23, one week after “community activists” successfully emptied it and moved the family’s belongings back into their foreclosed home on Detroit’s near northwest side.” An emergency demonstration called by the WWP front Moratorium NOW!, convened at the home in the afternoon in solidarity with the Maxwells and “all those facing foreclosure in Detroit.”
Activists with another WWP front, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, ACORN, and other groups participated. An emergency motion was filed in Detroit’s 36th District Court to set aside the judgment for eviction entered by the court on Feb. 28. On April 25, community activists packed the courtroom with the Maxwell family as Judge E. Lynise Bryant-Weekes heard arguments on why the family should be allowed to stay in their home. After the hearing, as supporters gathered in the corridor outside the courtroom, Maureen Taylor of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization stated: “This proves that poor people have no rights, that if you can’t afford an attorney, so be it. Poor people cannot get justice in a courtroom. We need to keep fighting.”
Detroit WWP leader Abayomi Azikiwe of Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice, told Workers World: “This is precisely why we need a moratorium. There are thousands of families like the Maxwells all throughout Metro Detroit. We need to step up the struggle to force the state legislature to enact the two-year foreclosure moratorium law. We can’t wait another day.”
MECAWI organizer and WWP leader Jerry Goldberg spoke at the Labor and Community Conference held at United Auto Workers Region 1A on April 26. Sponsored by the Labor Studies Center of the University of Michigan, the conference linked community issues such as health care and the environment to the labor struggle. Goldberg spoke on the foreclosure crisis and motivated the audience to support the two-year mortgage foreclosure moratorium introduced by State Sen. Hansen Clarke. Participants “signed up to support the bill and responded enthusiastically to the developing struggle.”
Abayomi Azikiwe and State Senator Hansen Clarke co-chaired a Town Hall Meeting on June 14, 2008 at UAW Local 7 in Detroit. The event, a statewide organizers’ conference, demanded the passage of Hansens’ SB 1306, imposing a two-year moratorium on foreclosures in Michigan.
Later that year, 72 year-old Rubie Curl-Pinkins was threatened with eviction from her home behind the James Cole Funeral Home on West Grand Boulevard. Hundreds of neighbors, relatives, church members and activists from the Moratorium Now! Coalition, Call ‘em Out, ACORN and State Senator Hansen Clarke and his staff rallied against Countrywide Home Loans/Bank of America, which planned to evict her family July 25, 2008.
The rally went on from 4 PM until almost midnight and was given extensive coverage by Detroit’s Channel Seven, which also interviewed Clarke about his pending bill for a two-year moratorium on foreclosures, S.B. 1306.
Unlike many other Detroiters facing foreclosure, Ms. Pinkins had the money to pay what she owed on the home, obtained through a reverse mortgage. Her attorneys, WWP affiliate Vanessa Fluker and WWP member Jerry Goldberg together with Bruce Feaster of Clarke’s office said Countrywide earlier lured her into a predatory adjustable-rate second mortgage at a 10 percent interest rate.
Hansen Clarke’s ties to the Workers World Party went beyond the anti-foreclosure campaign.
In 2009, Hansen Clarke was listed as an endorser of the Committee to Defend Diane Bukowski and Freedom of the Press.
Detroit radical journalist Diane Bukowski, was convicted May 1 2009, on two felony charges stemming from her involvement as a reporter on the scene of a deadly police chase in Detroit on November 4, 2008. Michigan radicals from several Marxist organizations, including Democratic Socialists of America, Communist Party USA, Solidarity and especially the Workers World Party formed the committee to defend their comrade.
Other listed Committee endorsers included Hansen Clarke’s former boss John Conyers, Communist Party USA supporter John Woodford, Democratic Socialists of America members Phil Schloop and Al Benchich, Solidarity member Peter Solenberger and Workers World Party members David Sole, Sandra Hines, Cheryl LaBash, Bryan Pfeifer and WWP affiliated Detroit City Council member JoAnn Watson.
Clarke is also affiliated with Detroit’s Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice – named after the late pro-communist labor lawyer Maurice Sugar and affiliated with the Communist Party initiated National Lawyers Guild.
On November 18, 2010, the Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center presented “The Maurice Sugar Voice for Justice Award” to former Obama “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones, “a Human Rights Activist and Green-Jobs Advocate,” at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, 660 Woodward Ave.
Members of the Honorary Host Committee included Hansen Clarke; David Elsila, Retired Editor, UAW Solidarity Magazine and a DSA member; Bob King, President, UAW International Vice President and a DSA supporter; Claudia Morcom, Retired Wayne County Circuit Court Judge and a DSA and Communist Party affiliate; Hasan Newash, Palestine Office of Michigan and a Communist Party affiliate; Saundra Williams, President, Metro Detroit AFL-CIO and a DSA affiliate and the Hon. JoAnn Watson, Detroit City Council and a long time Workers World Party affiliate.
Trevor Loudon blogs at TrevorLoudon.com, edits the KeyWiki website (an online encyclopedia of the US left) and is the author of a newly released book on the US President’s communist and Marxist ties Barack Obama and the Enemies Within.