A.N.S.W.E.R.Coalition not letting Ferguson crisis go to waste

A complex organization stands behind the A.N.S.W.E.R.Coalition.org signs in Ferguson, Missouri. 

A.N.S.W.E.R.Coalition is part of an enterprise structured like Charles Handy’s “Shamrock” organization with: (1) “a core of qualified professionals working in a Task Culture;” (2) “contracted specialists” and: (3) “part-time, seasonal and temporary workers.” 

(1)  A.N.S.W.E.R.’s core of professionals includes seasoned protest organizers, the political cadre of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), and a D.C.-based law firm – the Partnership for Civil Justice.  These “professionals” share a political worldview, and, in multiple cases, common addresses, phone numbers, and operatives.  These three groups are the focus of this inquiry.

(2)  Behind-the-scenes “contracted specialists” include signage and audio specialists, web designers, copywriters, and all those who help craft the enterprise’s public communications. They are not a subject of this inquiry.

(3)  The “part-time, seasonal and temporary workers” include the local extras that make up the supporting cast for street demonstrations, a few persons who serve as board members, and what funding sources are able to be identified. Many of the street extras are recruited from the special-issue groups that make up A.N.S.W.E.R.’s ever-shifting coalitions that evolve, demonstrate, and then dissolve. A few of these “extras” are mentioned in passing.

Where and What is A.N.S.W.E.R.?

The National Office for A.N.S.W.E.R. is 617 Florida Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. Remember that address.  Its branch locations will be referenced later.

Here is how the organization describes itself:

“The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition formed on September 14, 2001. It is a coalition of hundreds of organizations and prominent individuals and scores of organizing centers in cities and towns across the country. Its national steering committee represents major national organizations that have campaigned against U.S. intervention in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia, and organizations that have campaigned for civil rights and for social and economic justice for working and poor people inside the United States.”          

This self-description is a blend of fact and exaggeration, but the basic information is accurate.

Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (AKA: A.N.S.W.E.R., International A.N.S.W.E.R. and A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition) was formed in the immediate wake of September 11, 2001. On September 29, 2001, A.N.S.W.E.R. organized a street protest in Washington, D.C. against the anticipated U.S. incursion into Afghanistan.

In the years since, A.N.S.W.E.R. has organized street protests covering a range of “anti-racist, peace and social justice” issues including, but not limited to: pro-Palestine/anti-Israel; anti-Iraq War; pro-reproductive and women’s rights; pro-affirmative action; and pro-rights for illegal immigrants.

In a 2011 article reviewing its “Ten Years of Struggle,” co-founder Richard Becker claims that A.N.S.W.E.R. “played a key role in linking the anti-war struggle to the Occupy movement.” But opposition to the Iraq War was A.N.S.W.E.R.’s bread-and-butter cause for several years. 

As organizers of street demonstrations – its specialty – its claim is true that A.N.S.W.E.R. has interfaced with “hundreds of organizations” of varying size and tenure. For example, its “coalition” supporting  the March 24, 2005 anti-Iraq War march in Washington, D.C. attracted this eclectic membership: Stop the War in Iraq; End Colonial Occupation from Iraq to Palestine to Haiti; Support the Palestinian People’s Right of Return; Stop the Threats Against Venezuela, Cuba, Iran & North Korea; U.S. Out of the Philippines; U.S. Out of Puerto Rico;  Bring all the troops home now; Stop the Racist, anti-Immigrant and anti-Labor Offensive at Home, Defend Civil Rights; Military Recruiters Out of Our Schools and Communities.

Since 2001, A.N.S.W.E.R. has been a magnet for disparate groups born from the American left. It targets an issue, summons groups to align for/against it, and organizes and coordinates street events. Eventually, sooner or later, it moves on to the next cause and replicates the process – over, and over, again. 

The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri brought a new opportunity for A.N.S.W.E.R.’s skill set. 

Who Coordinates A.N.S.W.E.R.?

Brian Becker is the co-founder and National Coordinator of A.N.S.W.E.R.  Co-founder and brother, Richard Becker, is a member of the organization’s Steering Committee.

In 2013, Brian was interviewed outside the White House while protesting against a potential bombing incursion into Syria. 

According to DISCOVERTHENETWORKS.ORG, Brian is “a former member of the Secretariat of the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party (WWP).

“In [Brian] Becker’s calculus, American history is a narrative punctuated on every line with injustice and oppression. In July 1999 he mocked U.S. government leaders for ‘speaking so piously about human rights in countries that they have decided to attack,’ and for spreading ‘war propaganda’ designed to ‘divert attention from their own [sordid] history.’ Specifically, Becker explained that the U.S. had not become wealthy and powerful by means of ‘the so-called 'magic of the free market’ or ‘the purported virtues of capitalism,’ but rather as a result of ‘the accumulation of wealth from slave labor’ as well as ‘the theft and the genocidal ethnic cleansing of millions of Native Indian people.’”

Also according to DISCOVERTHENETWORKS.ORG, Richard Becker’s past displays, at least, an equal zealotry for Marxist-Leninist ideology.

In this YouTube video (4:23), Richard Becker tells an interviewer that “capitalism is leading the world to destruction” and how the solution is a “system based on meeting human needs in a sustainable, long-term way. If people look back at Lenin and do so objectively, they see the person who was the single most impactful leader of the 20th Century.”

The interviewer asks Richard, “What about the human suffering that so many people suffered during the transition as Lenin pushed forward with socialism?” Richard answers by attributing that suffering to “serious mistakes” made by Lenin’s successors.

In comparison, he has written that “No one in the world … has a worse human rights record than the United States.”

The Becker brothers make no effort to hide their commitment to Marxist-Leninist ideology and anti-capitalist beliefs.  

Who Funds A.N.S.W.E.R.?

That is a question not easily answered. An effort to track the money trail that funds A.N.S.W.E.R. surfaced one relatively recent, significant source – the Progress Unity Fund.

According to the Form 990’s from 2010-2012 for the Progress Unity Fund (PUF), 167 Anderson St., San Francisco 74110, PUF granted a total of $278,458 to A.N.S.W.E.R. during those three years. (It also granted $5,336 to the Partnership for Civil Justice – in 2010.)

The PUG mission statement begins:

“The progress of humanity today is directly linked to the creation of unity. The Progress Unity Fund has been established to help break down the barriers of divisiveness and discrimination that exist in the world, and replace them with a sense of solidarity.”

A two-bedroom, 901 sqft. house sits at 167 Anderson St., San Francisco 74110.

A 2006 Human Events article entitled “Who Funds Pro-Amnesty ANSWER Group?” stated that “Since ANSWER’s inception [2001], PUF has given $147,987 to ANSWER as revealed on their IRS Form 990, a hefty amount considering PUF generated only $219,370 in revenue in 2004.”

The article noted that, in 2006, the Progress Unity Fund and the San Francisco office of A.N.S.W.E.R. shared the same address.

Human Events also stated that PUF’s Form 990 “lists Brenda Sanburg, Rosa Penate and Keith Pavlik as officers of the organization, all three of whom have written for the WWP’s publication, Workers World.” In 2006, Rosa Penate was affiliated with A.N.S.W.E.R. and Keith Pavik is now among the 24 key members identified by Liberation, the “newspaper” of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.  Pavik is also identified as the current designer of the PUF website.

Additionally, in 2006, Human Events identified several other funding sources for A.N.S.W.E.R.:

“ANSWER also received money from a wealthy ‘social justice philanthropy,’ called the Vanguard Public Foundation, which is also connected to PUF through grant exchanges. VPF gave ANSWER $7,000 directly in 2004 and gave PUF and IAC [International Action Fund] lump grants totaling $11,250 from 2002-2003. VPF has also sponsored anti-war protests that ANSWER supported. In 2002, VPF donated $116,391 to an anti-war march on Feb. 16, 2002, and $69,535 towards “Stop the War Marches” in March 2003.  The Alliance for Global Justice, an anti-free trade organization that focuses on Latin America, has given ANSWER $28,958. ANSWER, AGJ and the Mexico Solidarity Network also share the same Washington, D.C., office.”

Why is A.N.S.W.E.R. in Ferguson, Missouri?

A.N.S.W.E.R. is doing in Ferguson what it does best – organizing street protests by gathering a coalition of groups and individuals. 

A list of the ad hoc coalition for a march in Ferguson includes persons from recognized national organizations (e.g., NAACP, New Black Panther Party, Nation of Islam) as well as local politicians and community leaders. One person on the list told the author that A.N.S.W.E.R. had provided “training” to the “Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition.”     

Here’s a condensed version of the “Leadership Coalition” demands:

1. …Darren Wilson…immediately fired from Ferguson police department…and vigorously prosecuted for the murder of Michael Brown.

2. …St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch [removed] from the case involving Michael Brown.

3. ...Attorney General Eric Holder and Missouri State Attorney General Chris Koster…investigate the policies and practices of…Saint {sic} Louis County, Saint Louis City and other municipalities throughout…Missouri, that have demonstrated a legacy of racial profiling.

4. …Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich…audit…local municipalities that have demonstrated a history of racial profiling. We demand accountability of how much revenue is being generated from traffic violations and how these funds are being spent.

5. …Ferguson Mayor James Knowles and Police Chief Thomas Jackson…resign…and if not we will call upon the people to immediately do a recall of the Mayor of Ferguson.

Conclusion: A street team – a political cadre – and a team of lawyers stand behind the A.N.S.W.E.R.Coalition signs on the streets of Ferguson.    

Next:  The Party for Socialism and Liberation and its ideological and operational alignment with A.N.S.W.E.R.

Lee Cary was, during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, a U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent in Vietnam, and while stateside, conducted background investigations for security clearances.

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