–Reporting from San Francisco–
America is having a really normal one lately. After winning the gold medal in most COVID deaths and infections the powers that be, it seems, wanted to really go for the brass ring by playing with matches inside the oil drum that is the United States. The nationwide police riot in response to the latest surge in Black Lives Matter demonstrations may come as a shock to many but the fuel for this burn has been piling up, just waiting for the right spark to set everything alight.
There is no question to anyone with a working brain that the American police force are nothing more than an extremely well-armed, incredibly racist gang. Whether you point to their slave patrol pedigree, Tricky Dick’s War on Drugs, Ronnie Ray-gun’s War on Crack, Slick Willy’s crime bill, the Forever War, or the pervasive police unions who, in some cases, really call the shots, it’s indisputable that American law enforcement are a lot less like peace officers and a lot more like 21st century Cossacks. In many places they are little better than an occupying army and act the part, especially if you happen to be of the wrong race while breathing near them.
Normally these brute squads would have no problem keeping a lid on everything. Unfortunately for these bastards, reality decided that 2020 was the perfect year for giving the American system a swift kick in the nutsack. COVID-19 has completely upended business as usual with everything from a record-setting death toll to quarantines and massive unemployment, all aggravated by the conspicuous lack of aid for workers while the money printer keeps throwing money on Wall Street’s fires. When you add in the disproportionate levels of infection suffered by Black, Latinx, and other marginalized groups forced into contact with COVID thanks to their newly granted “essential worker” trophies and proof of lopsided enforcement in Democratic cities of COVID-related penalties for those same communities it’s no surprise that something, sooner or later, was gonna give.
What’s shocked everyone is how spectacularly it’s blown up since George Floyd’s brutal, multiple camera police murder. To understand the explosion of the largest uprising in modern American history it’s first important to know a few, key things about how this movement and police brutality has been playing out. Black Lives Matter and the broader movement against police brutality is no stranger to riot police violence. For Americans participating in this and many other direct-action projects, tasting tear gas is an unspoken rite of passage. Receiving police fire is one part of an incredibly intricate, brutal dance that plays out in the streets as marches pull back into a massive, messy game of cat and mouse as demonstrators manoeuvre their way around police lines and attempted kettles while retaining cohesion. The usual response to riot police fire, with some few exceptions like Ferguson and Baltimore, is for whatever Black Bloc is present to hold the line as the rest of the march retreats to a safer route.
Minneapolis was different. Based on what reports I’ve heard from comrades on the ground it’s unclear what, exactly, happened to change the dynamic. One of the more popular explanations is that Black residents, caught between police brutality and a pandemic which hit their communities especially hard, felt they had nothing left to lose. Whatever the reason, there is no question that on May 25th something snapped and instead of doing the same old song and dance, the people of Minneapolis hit back.
In less than twenty-four hours a mostly Black, spontaneously organized demonstration stood their ground against the riot line, forced them to the retreat, and in a historic first successfully stormed, sacked, and torched the Third Police Precinct. Some observers watching police scanners, which rather astonishingly were unencrypted allowing the demonstrators to monitor their every move, claim the MPD at one point was running out of tear gas and rubber bullets. Over the course of the next day the Minneapolis Police Department was driven out of South Minneapolis. The pigs have never been so spectacularly owned in American history.
Solidarity demonstrations have since exploded across the country. Every major city is under curfew, a ham-fisted response which exceeds even the strictest US quarantine measures that leaves little doubt that in America it’s always more important to brutalize Black people than minimize deaths from a highly contagious disease. Such callousness makes the deliberate destruction of prominent symbols of white supremacy and bootlicker politicians all the sweeter. My personal favorite has to be the obliteration of the Richmond headquarters of the Daughters of the Confederacy, aka a bunch of inbred blueblooded neo-Confederate losers who dedicate their existence to defending the honor of rotting slavers.
Now you might think, based on the history of the American system, that the Powers That Be would have at least paused for a moment when it appeared that the spectre of Ferguson had returned. Unfortunately for them, the pigs, in their stupid cruelty and pathological dependence on brutality, handled these new actions with their usual disregard for other people creating new grievances and fresh, enduring outrage. After the smoke cleared, they surveyed the tattered remains of their authority, took a deep breath, and did it all over again coast to coast but this time added a side dish of blinding journalists and arresting news crews on live television.
If their sheer, bloody-minded stubbornness wasn’t so awfully destructive and astonishingly stupid, it’d almost be impressive.
All of this would be a presidency-ending crisis for most of the reasonably competent Ivy League clones churned out to manage the executive committee of American capitalism. This makes it truly fitting that the clueless ineptitude of the arrogant asshats in charge of the two-party system put a Wish.com Yosemite Sam with the attention span of a lobotomized goldfish in the Oval Office back in 2016. Only a truly petulant man-child like the Orange Shitgibbon would be stupid enough to tweet, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” only a day after retweeting a video where some all hat no cattle sheriff is saying, “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” Most authoritarians know better than to multiply their enemies when they have their hands full but Lot #45 (Defective) is not like most authoritarians.
He will have you know he went to Wharton Business School.
He did, in somewhat predictable fashion, at least try to do a fascism properly. On May 31st he declared ANTIFA was responsible for everything since George Floyd’s death, a move even the utterly incredulous, ratings-obsessed corporate press has denounced as a cynically unconstitutional distraction from the pigs. Law enforcement claims of similar outside agitators being responsible have faced similar, surprising scrutiny from journalists who, finally, understand the police’s obvious fuckery shortly after receiving a full helping. Cheetolini further upped the ante in the face of largely non-violent but incredibly angry and implacable protestors outside the White House by calling the pigs, turning off the lights, and hiding in a bunker, thus earning himself the new, more embarrassing sobriquet of “Bunker Bitch”. Even his threats of calling out the military, punctuated by his stupidly cruel little walk to church, folded in the face of state governors telling him how far he could piss up a rope leaving him stuck with tormenting the people of Washington DC.
There are, of course, the usual fascist bastards trying to take advantage of the Orange Fascist Pig’s flailing. Credible reports of roaming Right Wing Death Squads include a sighting of a sniper in Portland, bands of provocateurs smashing up Black and Indigenous-owned businesses in a bid to give their precious God-Emperor the pretext for martial law, and other acts of violence which, mysteriously, consistently escaped the attention of the police added to an already chaotic, messy situation. There is no question that at least some of these CHUDs have slithered out of the image boards and into the streets, all decked out in their finest Hawaiian shirts and Pepe pins. What the media missed in their frenzy over white nationalist violence is both the consistent lack of police response, leaving the real work in Minneapolis and Portland to community-organized defense groups, and whether the volume of noise was actually backed up by an equally significant signal. Though it is difficult to speculate how much of these rather disorganized, petulant, and endlessly squabbling band of keyboard commandos have actually materialized there is no question that, so far, these pig auxiliaries have failed to have any significant impact beyond terrifying “Orange Man Bad” liberals into open dissent.
This leaves everyone in very interesting times indeed. Some radicals fear the protests are beginning to lose momentum and lack the ability to sustain themselves much longer, especially thanks the widespread economic hardship and threat of COVID. They fear that some recent attempts at reform and reconciliation by state and local elected officials will take the teeth out of the growing movement just as it is gaining momentum. Such concerns are reasonable since that is more or less exactly what happened after Ferguson and Baltimore.
Unfortunately for the powerful who are desperately trying to reduce the number of crises on their plate, the pigs and the Pig in Chief are doing their level best to dump a whole trunk of wrenches in the gears of token reformism.
There are two reasons why these incredibly obtuse blue light special Nazis are far more likely to keep making things worse for themselves, even though throwing some kind of bone to the masses has become painfully obvious even to the Secretary of Blowing Up Brown People. Pig unions have a long, ugly history of operating a lot less like a labor union and a lot more like an organized crime syndicate. Whether they’re actively intervening in the political process to muscle out their opponents, targeting the districts of elected officials who don’t comply with deliberate slowdowns intended to let something “happen” to their voters, or (allegedly) threatening the daughter of the same Mayor of New York the NYPD union head declared “war” on earlier this year, the American subspecies of pig has consistently called into question where they are actually under civilian control and if local governments are real or consist of three police officers and their union rep in a trenchcoat. If they have truly become a state within a state then any attempts to offer concessions will be thwarted by stupid, stubborn bastards like Bob Kroll whose first and only steroid-induced impulse for handling any challenge of his authority is shoot first, ask questions never. Nothing better summarizes their attitude than this anonymous NYPD rant sourced from right wing security junkie David Reaboi:
“Almost 32 years in the NYPD, I have never felt such disgust, hopelessness, and anger. Manhattan was occupied territory tonight, we were totally outnumbered by miscreants. They were brazen, laughing and rampant. It was so prevalent there was nothing a police officer could do according to the rules and expectations of the Democrat Party. Our leaders took knees of solidarity with “protestors” during the day, and then had a dick forced down their throats at night. Zero leadership. Zero courage. Complete and utter pandering. And I heard the Bronx was even worse. I didn’t hear one person say the name George Floyd. It was complete anarchy and savagery. New York, wait until you wake up and see videos of Manhattan. It will look like Iraq. If you don’t beg Donald Trump to take charge of these Democrat cities across America, your country will be lost. The shit I saw today disgusted me more than the shit I saw on 9-11. Wasn’t even close. Going to bed. Good night.”
Anyone expecting such heartless mercenaries to willingly comply with even the most token attempts at reform has no clue how deep the rot goes. Making matters worse, for the conciliators, is Mango Man’s narcissistic need to be surrounded by big, tough brutes who openly declared their love for him in 2016, in stark contrast to the general consensus of their commanding officers for Hilary Clinton’s less Obviously Evil and Actually Competent watered-down Singaporean approach. He also can’t resist making his other problems worse, as shown by the recent declaration of Trade War between the US and China even as the American economy is on track to blast through rock bottom. With people already fighting the pigs to a standstill in the street and many on the edge of starving, the Republican faction of the Ruling Party has decided the best thing to do is to give the desperate a swift kick in the teeth.
It’s not like bread riots ever toppled a government before, right?
Making matters worse for the security state which seems intent on fighting this out the only way it possibly can is that the military doesn’t seem to be interested in joining in. Veterans for Peace has already reported growing numbers of soldiers asking about disobeying illegal orders. The chief non-commission officers of the Navy and Air Force released unprecedented statements on June 1st which all but gave enlisted personnel permission to disobey, likely in part thanks to how widely hated the prick is among the rank and file. Active duty troops are already being withdrawn from Washington DC, the only place the Twitter Toddler could get away with playing with them, leaving his merry band of moronic fascists with whatever federal pigs could be scraped up including, according to some chatter, those sadistic bastards commonly known as federal prison guards. If the revolt was only happening in DC or New York or Los Angeles that might work.
So what can you, gentle reader, do in these times when decades are flashing before our eyes?
It is essential to start from the core assumption that we are watching an especially stupid fascist coup unfold before our eyes. The security apparatus of the American system has allied itself to a slick billionaire New York con artist in a bid to crush all who dare challenge their right to arbitrarily murder People of Color even as their efforts are mostly pushing more people out into the streets. To put it simply, you know the police have totally fucked up when 54% of Americans believe that torching the Third Precinct was justified. Even though their flailing attempts are backfiring for now, there is no guarantee that the next level of escalation will see the same response if the movement is left to its own devices. What does seem to be certain is that, barring another serious reversal that makes even the most bone-headed swine realize their current strategy is stump stupid, these brutes will keep doing the only thing they know how to do.
This means anarchists, prison abolitionists, police accountability campaigners, and anyone who has a stake in keeping the United States from going openly fascist need to help this movement however you possibly can. Don’t try to jump in front or push people into greater militancy; the police are doing their level best to cover that base. Focus on whatever support work and mutual aid you can offer. These are tools and practices that may be unfamiliar for newer protestors and are critical for keeping people out in the street and engaged. Every act of mutual aid helps, especially since the only thing sustaining this movement is the people who are making it happen.
For those living outside of the United States the two most valuable things you can do is keep the eyes of the world on the people out in the street and keep critical resources flowing. International support and pressure, which has already been flowing in, won’t matter to the pigs in the streets and government but it will help keep up the spirits of those in struggle and help move some of the uncertain into joining in. Donations to support funds are just as critical as many of those in this struggle are already short on resources and need money for everything from bail to beans and bandages. Above all else, no matter where you are it is essential to keep the signal going. Information will be decisive in this struggle.
I can’t say for sure which way things will go from here cause my crystal ball is currently in the shop. There is a possible endgame where things go our way. There’s already evidence that the police are not prepared for a series of constant, extended engagements with an angry public. Pig radio chatter from Minneapolis on the night the Third Precinct fell suggested their ammunition stocks were running low, a rather surprising development in the face of a situation they normally disperse without much difficulty. The newest bait and switch tactic of kneeling before firing is already crumbling under media scrutiny and the police were already showing higher than expected COVID infection rates, a problem which will likely get worse for them thanks to their apparent disregard for masking up in contrast with the near-universally masked demonstrators. They have gone balls to the walls and have nothing else to throw in this fight while the anger of the masses continues to rise.
It is, therefore, quite possible that this movement could force the pigs to grind themselves to dust on their toys and tired tactics. In such an endurance contest this movement will need to retain the capacity to continuously contest the streets, confront the police, and continuously mobilize new recruits while keeping the people we already have out in the streets. Multiple labor unions, both locally in the case of Minneapolis and New York City bus drivers and nationally in the case of the solidly radical ILWU, have declared solidarity with more feeling pressure to use what power they have to hamstring the pigs. Los Angeles Pride has just announced this year’s June 14th Pride Parade will be a solidarity march. It is also safe to assume the Trumpster Fire and his cop buddies will keep dumping gasoline on this fire, thinking that somehow this time it will go out.
All joking aside, this will not be easy or see guaranteed victory. Baby Benito might livetweet his last words as the overdose brought on by his latest cocaine binge takes hold, giving them the excuse they need to make the Bad Man go away and Put Adults in Charge who aren’t as compulsively idiotic. The armed forces might go totally off-script and decide that fascism actually is ok after sending numerous signals about how it Totally Is Not. A mass viral outbreak might take the steam out of the whole affair. We might even see every single demonstrator struck by lightning as the trumpets of Heaven announce the Second Coming has arrived, though I wouldn’t put down money on that. All of mine is already on the coke Tweeting being the most incredibly unlikely thing to cap off 2020 but I could be wrong.
Regardless of what might happen, there is no question of what is happening: the American Empire is crumbling, its capitalist economy is in complete freefall, and people are fighting the security apparatus’ most brutal spawn to a grinding standstill. It certainly is still possible that the Powerful will pull a rabbit out of their hat that just barely saves their skins but this time, it seems, they’ve run out of bunny-accommodating headwear. What all anarchists need to do, both in and outside of America, is take a cue from the successes of the January 25th, 2011 Egyptian Revolution and keep this movement fighting until the system runs out of gas. Sooner or later they will slip even worse than they already have, and the accumulated exhaustion, stupidity, and arrogance will leave them ready to topple.
Featured photo: The Daughters of the Confederacy HQ in Richmond the morning after it was hit by demonstrators.