reposted from It’s Going Down
Welcome, to This Is America, August 8th, 2018.
In this episode, we caught up with an organizer at #OccupyICE in San Antonio to talk about the State’s recent push to deport people who have been involved in their encampment. As the Intercept reported today:
On Friday, after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested a longtime U.S. resident protesting against ICE in San Antonio, Texas, the FBI stepped in for an interrogation, telling the resident, 18-year-old Sergio Salazar, that his immigration status had been revoked because he was a “bad person.” The FBI agents asked him to inform on fellow protesters and said if he did so it could help his immigration case.
Also on the show today, we’ll talk to a medic that was on the streets of Portland when the police began their brutal attack and talk about the massive antifascist mobilization.
But first, some thoughts on #AllOutAugust.
First off, can we give it up to Providence, Rhode Island! While the eyes of the world were on Portland and Berkeley, they shut that shit down in a matter of minutes!
And while this weekend has come and gone, many people are now asking themselves, “now what?,” in the face of mounting police violence at demonstrations and the open networking between far-Right groups and State forces.
We would do well to remember that in the 1960s, police had a policy of putting down riots in urban centers and students revolts and occupations with the upmost brutality. However, as they learned from Watts to Kent State, such brutality came with a price, it often expanded social conflict to larger populations and more sectors, but it also above all hurt the image of the police in the eyes of increasingly more members of the public, and in turn, for some people, justified increasingly militant action against the State.
Thus, by the 1970s and after the destruction of the Black Panther Party and major sections of the black liberation movement, a new strategy of “community policing” developed along with a tactic of “mediated management” in regards to policing demonstrations. In this format, police sought to work and partner with protest leaders. While this minimized violence, it also helped ensure that rallies remained not disruptive to society or the economy, or threatened the power and control of the State.
This framework collided with history, when in November of 1999, both the tactics of the anarchist black bloc, but moreover, the decentralized, affinity based model of organizing spit in the face of open collaboration with the State during protests against the World Trade Organization and corporate globalization. Moreover, as the anti-capitalist forces succeeded in shutting down the WTO, they also helped generalize resistance, causing many rank-n-file union members to join the blockades, and at night, pushed for a generalized revolt against a police curfew.
In response, police began a new strategy of playing up the difference between “good protesters” and “bad protesters,” which in itself was a return to many of the tactics police had used in policing and sub-doing the civil rights movements, using tropes like “outside agitators” who come into rile up “the good people.” In recent years, this strategy has been used ad neasum, often with racial undertones. For instance, admists the Ferguson Insurrection, where people defended their communities from the police by rioting and also the use of firearms, police and even some activists who came into Ferguson in an attempt to control the struggle would argue that the rioting was caused laughably by “white anarchists.”
However, the recent antifascist demonstrations have been based around building mass coalitions across racial and organization lines. In these coalitions, unity has been based around adhering to the the St. Paul Principles from the 2008 RNC protests, which refused collusion with law enforcement, embrace a diversity of tactics, and forbids group participants from attacking other groups and individuals and their tactics in the media.
In short, instead of trying to separate “the anarchists” or the “black bloc” or “the antifa” from the other protesters, police realized that the thousands of people gathered were in a sense all ‘antifa,’ as they were all in solidarity with each other, whether they wore black or not. As Jared Holt from Right Wing Watch wrote of the crowd:
When Patriot Prayer rally-goers finally arrived in Portland to begin their rally, they were met by thousands of anti-fascist protesters. Alongside the masked anti-fascist protesters that people often imagine when they think of “Antifa,” there were also union members, a makeshift marching band, church groups, concerned mothers and other Portland civilians. One such mom told me she was on the sidewalk to protest Patriot Prayer for her son, who is a toddler, because “he has to grow up in this world.”
“Antifa shouldn’t have to face these people on their own,” she said.
Because of this solidarity, we see the logic by Portland and the next day under similar circumstances, Berkeley police, to attack over a thousand people with projectile and chemical weapons. But in doing so, the police also gave thousands of union workers, DSA members, and non-profit workers their first taste of tear gas and pepper spray. Already, there are calls for Ted Wheeler to resign, big groups like the ACLU have condemnned the attack, and Portland Police have announced that they have suspended the use flash bang grenades at demonstrations.
The point is – if these people who came out in the thousands weren’t anarchists before they were shot by the police, they sure as shit are closer to becoming one now.
And suddenly, we have a huge pool of people to talk with, organize, and work with in the coming terrain. Now’s the time to hold those workshops, invite those speakers, organize a block party, a film showing, and keep those relationships going and growing. Let’s talk about the open working relationships between the State and the far-Right, and more importantly, what we can do about it both as individuals and as a community.
Above all, now is the time to keep each other safe. With groups like the Proud Boys gaining more confidence in their ability to hurt everyday people in random attacks and be protected by the police, we need to keep mapping their networks, taking local action, and exposing them to their neighborhoods, places they hang out and drink at like bars, and workplaces.
Ultimately, our greatest power lies in our bonds of solidarity and the support that we receive from the wider community, and there has never been a better time than now to increase that strength.
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