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May 19th Communist Organization (M19CO)

The May 19 Communist Order (M19CO), also known as Armed Resistance Unit, May 19 Communist Coalition, Red Guerrilla Resistance, Resistance Conspiracy, Revolutionary Fighting Group is an inactive group. The May 19 Communist Organization was active from 1978 to 1985. The group was originally known as the New York chapter of the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee (PFOC), an organization devoted to legally promoting the causes of the Weather Underground. This was part of Prairie Fire Manifesto change in Weather Underground Organization strategy, which demanded both aboveground mass and clandestine organizations.

The May 19th Communist Organization (MCO) took its name from the common birthdates of Ho Chi Minh (May 19, 1890) and of Malcom X (or Malcolm Little, May 19, 1925).. The combined forces of the two major terrorist groups named their alliance the May 19th Communist Organization (M19CO), an alliance that also included members of the Black Panthers and the Republic of New Africa (RNA). The alliance between the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army had three objectives: 1. Free political prisoners in US prisons; 2. Appropriate capitalist wealth (Appropriations) to fund the third stage, and 3. Initiate a series of Strategic Attacks.

Its principal manifesto, written early in 1979, is Principles of Unity of the May 19th Communist Organization. This manifesto defines the MCO as essentially a support apparatus for "national liberation movements" engaged in "armed struggle" against "imperialism.”

"We have seen the collective strength of national liberation forever alter the balance of forces against imperialism. Revolution is the main trend in the world, and revolution is being led, ideologically and on the battlefield, by the national liberation struggles for proletarian power. We have changed our name to the May 19th Communist Organization out of a commitment to follow that leadership.

While acknowledging that "the highest point of world revolutionary struggle has shifted to Southern Africa", the MCO declared itself to be "committed to the principle of Third World leadership" and it expressed support for a wide range of Marxist national liberation movements.

In addition to its support for foreign terrorism, the MCO specifically endorsed the use of terrorism within the United States: "Armed struggle is the fundamental tool of oppressed people to win their liberation. We fully support, both politically and materially, the waging of national liberation war against imperialism. Around the world and in the US, vanguard forces will emerge and have done so through the building of armed clandestine movements and the waging of people's war. A central aspect of our support is the active defense of all political prisoners and prisoners of war captured by the imperialist state".

The MCO manifesto also expressed support for a number of left-wing causes and groups within American society: womens' liberation (defined principally as "the struggle against lesbian oppression”), the "struggle against white supremacy,” and solidarity with Puerto Rican, black, Chicano, and American Indian terrorists and violent activists in the United States.

The May 19th Communist Organization served as the principal support group and propaganda arm of the terrorist network that was responsible for the Brinks robbery and murders as well as for the bombing of the US Capitol Building on November 7, 1983 and for other bombings in the New York City and Washington, DC, areas.

In 1979 three members walked into the visitor’s center at the New Jersey State Prison at Clinton, took two guards hostage, and freed JoAnne Chesimard, the leader of the Black Liberation Army. Chesimard was serving a sentence of life plus 26 to 33 years for the execution-style murder of a state trooper. Several months later they arranged the escape of William Morales, a member of the Puerto Rican separatist group, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion National Puertorriquena (FMLN), from Bellevue Hospital in New York City where he was recovering after a bomb he was building exploded in his hands.

The second stage of the M19CO campaign included the Brinks robbery - the M19CO’s most infamous appropriation. On October 20, 1981, in Nyack, N.Y., a dozen members of the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army robbed an armored Brink’s truck of $1.6 million. They killed a Brink’s guard and wounded two others. At a police roadblock five miles from the robbery, they killed two police officers and wounded a third. Four of the robbers were captured, but eight escaped.

As part of the third stage of the campaign, they bombed the federal building on Staten Island, N.Y., and were responsible for an explosion at the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, DC.

On November 3, 1984, two members of the M19CO were arrested at a mini-warehouse they had rented in Cherry Hill, NJ. Police recovered more than 100 blasting caps, nearly 200 sticks of dynamite, more than 100 cartridges of gel explosive, and 24 bags of blasting agent from the warehouse.

On November 29, 1984, Susan Lisa Rosenberg and Timothy A. Blunk, reputed M19CO members, were arrested by authorities and subsequently indicted on Federal charges. At the time of their arrests, Rosenberg and Blunk were in possession of a hugh cache of explosives and numerous weapons. Rosenberg had been a Federal fugitive since 1982, on charges in connection with the November 1979 prison escape of the alleged leader of the Black Liberation Army, Joanne Chesimard, who was an FBI fugitive, as well as the October 20, 1981 Brink's robbery and slayings in Nanuet, New York. Rosenberg was charged with participation in the planning of this holdup and subsequent shootout which left a guard and two police officers dead.

FBI investigation indicated that Blunk and another M19CO member, Alan Berkman, also an FBI fugitive wanted as an accessory in the aforementioned 1981 Brink's robbery and slayings in Nanuet, New York, were involved in the September 2, 1984 robbery of a Stop and Shop Supermarket in Cromwell, Connecticut.

A search of the M19CO’s safe houses (hideouts) revealed documents that indicated its members were planning to escalate their terrorist campaign. The members had information on two dozen corporate executives and leading New York and New Jersey police officials including biographies, photographs, and daily schedules. They had drawings, floor plans, and photographs of police stations and barracks. They also had a file on former President Richard Nixon’s residences.

The alliance’s last bombing was on February 23, 1985, at the Policemen’s Benevolent Association in New York City. By May 23, 1985, all members of the group had been arrested, with the exception of Elizabeth Duke, who remained a fugitive as of 2017. Elizabeth Anna Duke is wanted for her alleged involvement in a series of criminal activities during the late 1970's and early 1980's. She was allegedly a member of the radical group known as the May 19th Communist Organization which advocated communism and the violent overthrow of the United States Government. Duke was arrested in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in May of 1985 for her alleged participation in this group, but was released on bail. She later fled the jurisdiction and has been a fugitive since October of 1985. A federal arrest warrant was issued for Duke in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on November 13, 1986, charging her with the aforementioned federal charges.

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Page last modified: 24-09-2017 18:52:36 ZULU