Congressional Candidate and Anti-war Campaigner Michael Prysner Takes on Workers’ IssuesOctober 31, 2008 12:00 am Leave your thoughts
From union rights to LGBT struggle, Michael Prysner steps up to the frontlines. Michael Prysner, the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s candidate for Florida’s 22nd congressional district, is the only anti-imperialist Iraq war veteran running in the upcoming election.
Prysner (pictured) has addressed several local and national anti-war protests and conferences over the past year, including demonstrations at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and the Winter Soldier event sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War.
At the DNC, he participated in a march to demand freedom for all political prisoners, helping to carry a banner calling for freedom for the Cuban Five-five Cuban men held in U.S. prisons for monitoring the activities of right-wing Miami terrorists.
At the RNC, Prysner spoke to tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators, asking them to join the struggle not just against the Republican party, but against the twin parties of imperialism.
Prysner also actively works to organize veterans in the anti-war movement on a national level. Dozens of lawn signs promoting Prysner’s campaign, the PSL and the slogan “End the War Now” have been distributed throughout the working-class areas of his district.
Prysner is running against incumbent Ron Klein (Democrat) and former Army officer Allen West (Republican). West served in the same unit as Prysner during their 2003 Iraq tour before being discharged for torturing an Iraqi during an interrogation.
Both Klein and West advocate racist Zionism and defend the continued colonial occupation of Palestine. Prysner, on the other hand, takes an uncompromising position in defense of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. Most recently, Prysner spoke at protests in Miami against the continual siege of Gaza by the criminal Israeli government, declaring that he and other PSL members “will continue to fight until every inch of Palestine is free.”
When West planned a hostile rally and press conference outside a banquet for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Prysner for Congress campaign and others turned out in mass to challenge the racist attacks. West absurdly claims that the civil rights organization is a terrorist group.
That day, the anti-Arab right wing in south Florida, accustomed to a political climate in which they could attack the Arab and Muslim community unopposed, learned that a new political leadership was ready to stand in their way. West and his crew were forced to abandon their plans, fleeing the site without getting out a single racist word to the press.
A campaign of struggle
Prysner’s grassroots campaign has fought shoulder to shoulder with working people in South Florida. On 26th September, Prysner participated in a delegation of union and community activists demanding that the Isle Casino reinstate three workers who had been unjustly fired. The casino gave the workers the pink slip in an attempt to intimidate their newly formed union during contract negotiations. When meeting with the casino management, Prysner said, “We are committed to stand and fight with the workers who were illegally fired until they are reinstated, and to ensure that all workers at the casino get a fair contract.”
On 2nd September, the Prysner for Congress campaign joined with other progressive forces in a successful campaign to support the creation of a worker resource center to be voted on at the Lake Worth City Commission meeting.
The center will play an important role in coordinating day laborers’ employment, providing important social services to community members, and serving as a key center for the immigrant rights movement in South Florida.
In the months leading up to the city commission meeting, illegal ICE raids grew more frequent. Prysner helped organize a know-your-rights workshop, and went door to door in the terrorized communities to encourage migrant workers to attend the workshop and organize against the attacks. Hundreds of immigrants turned out to the workshop.
Prysner joined roughly fifteen other candidates at a forum organized by the Haitian Citizen United Task Force in his district, which is home to a large Haitian immigrant population. Prysner was the only candidate who demanded full rights for all immigrants, including guaranteed access to jobs, health care and quality education. The local bourgeois candidates who hoped to win votes from the Haitian community could not hide their true colors as Prysner exposed their anti-immigrant agenda. They scrambled to defend themselves, but to the workers who attended, one fact was made obvious-Democrats and Republicans stood for bigotry, and the PSL stood for equality.
Prysner is scheduled to speak at a “No on Proposition 2” rally Saturday, Oct. 18. Proposition 2 would amend Florida’s constitution to prevent same-sex marriage rights from advancing and to turn back local gains for domestic partners. Prysner has also spoken at town hall meetings defending LGBT rights.
Professional politicians have spent months courting voters at public events and in the media, but for Prysner, campaigning has not been about scoring votes. Come November 5, whatever the outcome of the election, Prysner and other PSL activists will be exactly where they have been for the past several months-in the frontlines of the workers’ struggle.
Michael Prysner is a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation – www.pslweb.org
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This post was written by John Peter Daly