Category Archives: Resistance

Bigotry, Racism and Capitalist Class Privilege

The ultimate end of all revolutionary social change is to establish the sanctity of human life, the dignity of man, the right of every human being to liberty and well-being.

— Emma Goldman, My Further Disillusionment with Russia, 1924

Class divisions are prime factors in all systems, governing where, how and if people live, work, eat, dress, school and survive. All members of a class share its privileges, not just some few, as in the case of what is called “white” privilege, as though it was experienced by all humans characterized in racist society as “white”. No matter the skin tone, sexual preference or ethnicity of the persons, class status governs whether they live in some degree of physical comfort, are educated, make investments and are able to plan for the future, or live in relative and often severe discomfort, in debt, in low cost housing, ghettos, jails or on the street, with their only future plan being able to survive another day, let alone another week.

Class privileges come before and count for more than sexual privileges, which are very real but are at least based on the organic nature of humanity, while race differences are a filthy lie under which we live in the promotion of capitalist class society, along with all other separations used to divide humans from our commonality.

The lawyer reduced to ambulance chasing still enjoys a more comfortable material standard of living than the driver of the ambulance, no matter the lawyer’s sex or skin tone or the driver’s religion or sexual preference. Those able to  graduate from college enjoy privilege by comparison to the majority who have no such luck and those with enough money or program access to get them into the “better” schools enjoy more privilege than those who go to ordinary colleges, but both groups enjoy a class status beyond that of the majority, of all shapes, sizes, beliefs and skin tones, who haven’t a prayer of attending college unless making deliveries, cleaning its toilets or building a wing on the chem lab or art studio. And a less formally educated class of majority  Americans owe what education they have to their teachers, all of whom are and were college graduates who enabled them to become, according to some political bigots, unsophisticated, ignorant, and even “deplorable” members of a working class.

Being born into an educated and materially comfortable family does not guarantee a person wont wind up a miserable and suffering human, but that suffering is much less likely to be physical and may at least have the assistance of therapists and legal drugs, rather than reduce them to seeing a parole or probation officer for therapy after consuming the only drugs they can get, illegally.

These aspects of material class reality should be understood by all but are still buried by consciousness controllers who sell us the prevailing mythology that sees all social ills as the result of individual problems or blamed on those most visible as members of lower economic classes, frequently and most malevolently but not exclusively called “people of color”, as though they were blue or purple, but, in fact, covering for a racist history that reduced some of us to even lower economic status by virtue of skin pigmentation.

The horrid story of chattel slavery, in which hundreds of thousands of Africans were transplanted to the western world in chains as the cheapest form of labor, serving as the back bone of capitalist profits for a long period of history, is still almost a secret to many Americans. But while that treatment was uniquely cruel it was a continuation of the inhumanity and abuse of first, the indigenous people who lived here centuries before European colonization, and later, immigrant labor from Europe and Asia which sometimes suffered miserable conditions even beyond some slaves who happened to be owned by benign masters. While the squalor and bigotry encountered by millions of immigrants may not have been as disgraceful as the suffering of slaves, the lesser evilism implicit in such comparisons serves as an example of what passes for our democracy, when voters are frequently reduced to selecting someone who sickens them less than the opposition candidate after an alleged political debate that often amounts to pimps arguing about which one represents true love.

In a system dependent on individual consumption at the market as the be all/end all of human relations that finds a majority of humans the world over relating to life in poverty and misery, class divisions are used by rulers to keep democracy from ever happening. The result can be as ridiculous as people with cancer  seeing people with polio as being privileged, with lesser evilism carried to a point very close to current conditions of working people so divided by ethnicity, sex and skin tones that they keep minorities in power by allowing themselves to be so humanly reduced.

Our ruling billionaire class, smaller in number and richer than any in history, hires and rents a professional class to maintain its rule while those professionals hire, rent, administer and educate the working class to maintain everyone’s status as members of separate classes but all somehow democratically equal. During slavery, the upper class House Negroes sometimes organized and led rebellions when they saw how their people suffered while the masters lived on what they slaved to produce.  But most went along to get along, often hoping to bring change about by slowly working to bring understanding to all concerned, or maybe just making life better for themselves, as most of us do. Their behavior was the same as any other group trying to survive as best it can under circumstances seemingly beyond its personal control. Welcome to 21st century capitalism, the time when the system has never been as unjust but has more people thinking and acting beyond imposed and taught differences but as united humans whose experience is far beyond past expressions of change, though with the same opponents, problems and with even more serious calamities for the future if humanity is not successful.t

When there are social breakdowns, as are currently being experienced in possibly the most severe and communicated way in capitalist history, class differences become bolder and clearer than ever. The latest political economic crisis in America is due to a possibly overdone but still deadly virus compounded by another in a long series of killings of Black Americans by white police, highlighted as never before in the age of instant communication, as well as instant mis-communication. Long dominance by major media over citizen consciousness is often countered now by what is called social media –though it is still at times very anti-social – but the views of a dreadful and at its roots social crime is, as too often, treated as the act of a bigoted individual, or group of individuals who perform state services in maintenance of American class society.

The horrid scene of a victim with a police officer’s knee on his neck causing his death even though he offered no resistance has ignited outbursts of understandable pain and rage but also sometimes cynical manipulation mostly directed at the police as though they are individually acting out racist behavior in some social vacuum in which the formidable economic barriers between communities originate because of servants of the state, rather than the owners and operators of that state: the ruling class.

A relatively comfortable sector of the population has suddenly been confronted by a nearly shut down society under assault by a seemingly new virus and simultaneously seen the most vile aspects of racism for the first time, which the collapsing system has spread in its lust for private profit at public expense, but still clouded by mind management into placing blame for increasing horrors on evil individuals or “identity groups” deemed guilty of perpetuating injustice all by themselves.

Blaming police for the wretched social reality of communities segregated by economics and alleged racial difference is like blaming the military for the wars that destroy nations and kill hundreds of thousands of foreigners while most of us go to work, school, shop, watch TV, feed pets, eat taco-pizza-burgers or health food, buy guns and demonstrate against wars. The political economic realities that treat some humans as lesser commodities in a diseased culture that reduces everything to a market item to be bought and sold are rarely dealt with let alone confronted. The forces of the market exclusively under minority control can no longer be tolerated by any of us wishing or claiming to be working on behalf of humanity and not just a sector of it.

The present moment of a virus which may get worse with demonstrating crowds breathing on one another may end with more deaths and social division but as long as it pits people against the police it will be just what our rulers want. Sincere comments offered by politicians and celebrities are nice but in substance they amount to the usual speeches about hearts going out to the sufferers of whatever tragedy of the moment is being discussed. They are very much like the hordes of us who demonstrate against a war or another injustice, and then go home for dinner while the war and the injustice continue after we vote for another candidate who supports the system of war and injustice.

Our rulers have made even more billions during this pandemic phase of a crumbling system which may yet fall on all our heads if we don’t stop lashing out simply at those employed by them and paid for by us and aim our rebelliousness at the top where it resides.

Capitalism will continue pouring billions into the accounts of the fraction of 1% at the top  while millions lose their jobs, hundreds of thousands lose their homes and  businesses, and well meaning if often misled manipulated “rebels” lash out at working class state servants or a handful of shaved headed bikers or other selected by their manipulators enemies, while the real problems ride around in chauffeured limousines, private jets and soon, even space ships. As we continue pouring wealth into the coffers of Wall Street, the Pentagon and Israel, reducing more Americans to crippling debt and poverty while killing more people in foreign countries, the current resident of subsidized presidential housing and some “white” cops are still seen by too many of us as the source of all our woes.

Some of us are reduced to thinking the poor, the homeless and those on the dole are great problems because we not only hear that from our mind managers but frequently see them on the street and under the freeways, while our rulers are never seen unless on major media and might as well be gods. Their upper class servants live in gated communities while they are in walled estates less accessible to common people than the royalty of feudal days were in their castles with moats and drawbridges to keep the common people out and under control. The police certainly serve in the same capacity in some communities but attacking them as the source of our problems would be like feudal rebels attacking the moat or drawbridge while remaining ignorant of the people and wealth they protected.

We share a material social reality no matter what our personal comfort level may be for the moment and it grows more dangerous to our future the longer we allow ourselves to be ruled by an unelected tiny minority running a system that works against all our interests. We do not need to simply end poverty and injustice in one or another community: we need to end poverty and injustice for all by insisting on jobs, healthcare and housing for all people. We do not need to simply stop killing people in the Middle East or in American ghettos: we need to cut military budgets, work for global peace and disarmament, and stop killing people everywhere. That calls for a radically different system than the one under which we live, one that puts the public good before — way before — private profit, and that needed transformation can only come about when we of the majority class unite to bring it about.

The Global Reset: Unplugged

Imagine, you are living in a world that you are told is a democracy – and you may even believe it – but, in fact, your life and fate is in the hands of a few ultra-rich, ultra-powerful and ultra-inhuman oligarchs. They may be called Deep State, Illuminati, or simply the Beast, or anything else obscure or untraceable, it doesn’t matter. They are less than the 0.0001%.

For lack of a better expression, let’s call them for now “obscure individuals”. These obscure individuals who pretend running our world have never been elected. We don’t need to name them. You will figure out who they are, and why they are famous, and some of them totally invisible. They have created structures, or organisms without any legal format. They are fully out of international legality. They are a forefront for the Beast. Maybe there are several competing Beasts. But they have the same objective: A New or One World Order (NWO, or OWO).

These obscure individuals are running, for example, The World Economic Forum (WEF – representing Big Industry, Big Finance and Big Fame), the Group of 7 – G7, the Group of 20 – G20 (the leaders of the economically” strongest” nations). There are also some lesser entities, called the Bilderberg Society, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Chatham House and more. The members of all of them are overlapping. Even this expanded forefront combined represents less than 0.001%. They all have superimposed themselves over sovereign national elected and constitutional governments, and over THE multinational world body, the United Nations, the UN.

In fact, they have coopted the UN to do their bidding. UN Director Generals, as well as the DGs of the multiple UN-suborganizations, are chosen – mostly by the US, with the consenting nod of their European vassals – according to the candidate’s political and psychological profile. If his or her ‘performance’ as head of the UN or head of one of the UN sub-organizations fails, his or her days are counted. Coopted or created by the Beast(s) are also the European Union, the Bretton Woods Organizations, World Bank and IMF, as well as the World Trade Organization (WTO), and – make no mistake – the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. It has no teeth. Just to make sure the law is always on the side of the lawless.

In addition to the key international financial institutions, WB and IMF, there are the so-called regional development banks and similar financial institutions, keeping the countries of their respective regions in check. In the end it’s financial or debt-economy that controls everything. Western neoliberal banditry has created a system, where political disobedience can be punished by economic oppression or outright theft of national assets in international territories. The system’s common denominator is the (still) omnipresent US-dollar.

The supremacy of these obscure unelected individuals becomes ever more exposed. We, the People, consider it “normal” that they call the shots, not what we call – or once were proud of calling, our sovereign nations and sovereignly elected governments. They have become a herd of obedient sheep. The Beast has gradually and quietly taken over. We haven’t noticed. It’s the salami tactic: You cut off slice by tiny slice and when the salami is gone, you realize that you have nothing left, that your freedom, your civil and human rights are gone. By then it’s too late. Case in point is the US Patriot Act. It was prepared way before 9/11. Once 9/11 “happened”, the Patriot Legislation was whizzed through Congress in no time – for the people’s future protection – people called for it for fear – and – bingo, the Patriot Act took about 90% of the American population’s freedom and civil rights away. For good.

We have become enslaved to the Beast. The Beast calls the shots on boom or bust of our economies, on who should be shackled by debt, when and where a pandemic should break out, and on the conditions of surviving the pandemic, for example, social confinement. And to top it all off, the instruments the Beast uses, very cleverly, are a tiny-tiny invisible enemy, called a virus, and a huge but also invisible monster, called FEAR. That keeps us off the street, off reunions with our friends, and off our social entertainment, theatre, sports, or a picnic in the park.

Soon the Beast will decide who will live and who will die, literally – if we let it. This may be not far away. Another wave of pandemic and people may beg, yell and scream for a vaccine, for their death knell, and for the super bonanza of Big Pharma and towards the objectives of the eugenicists blatantly roaming the world – . There is still time to collectively say NO. Collectively and solidarily.

Take the latest case of blatant imposture. Conveniently, after the first wave of Covid-19 had passed, at least in the Global North, where the major world decisions are made, in early June 2020, the unelected WEF Chairman, Klaus Schwab, announced “The Great Reset”. Taking advantage of the economic collapse – the crisis shock, as in “The Shock Doctrine” – Mr. Schwab, one of the Beast’s frontrunners, announces openly what the WEF will discuss and decide for the world-to-come in their next Davos Forum in January 2021. For more details see here.

Will, We, The People, accept the agenda of the unelected WEF?

It will opportunely focus on the protection of what’s left of Mother Earth; obviously at the center will be man-made CO2-based “Global Warming”. The instrument for that protection of nature and humankind will be the UN Agenda 2030 – which equals the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). It will focus on how to rebuild the willfully destroyed global economy, while respecting the (“green”) principles of the 17 SDGs.

Mind you, it’s all connected. There are no coincidences. The infamous Agenda 2021 which coincides with and complements the so-called (UN) Agenda 2030, will be duly inaugurated by the WEF’s official declaration of The Great Reset, in January 2021. Similarly, the implementation of the agenda of The Great Reset began in January 2020, by the launch of the corona pandemic – planned for decades with the latest visible events being the 2010 Rockefeller Report with its “Lockstep Scenario”, and Event 201, of 18 October in NYC which computer-simulated a corona pandemic, leaving within 18 months 65 million deaths and an economy in ruin, programmed just a few weeks before the launch of the actual corona pandemic. See COVID-19, We Are Now Living the “Lock Step Scenario“; and Global Capitalism, “World Government” and the Corona Crisis; and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Moderna’s Clinical Trial Results for its Groundbreaking Covid 19 Vaccine could not be much worse“.

The racial riots, initiated by the movement Black Lives Matter, funded by Soros & Co., following the brutal assassination of the Afro-American George Floyd by a gang of Minneapolis police, and spreading like brush-fire in no time to more than 160 cities, first in the US, then in Europe – are not only connected to the Beast’s agenda, but they were a convenient deviation from the human catastrophe left behind by Covid-19. See  The “Corona Hoax”, The Proliferation of Racial Riots: Towards a Military Lockdown?

The Beast’s nefarious plan to implement what’s really behind the UN Agenda 2030 is the little heard-of Agenda ID2020. See The Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic: The Real Danger is “Agenda ID2020“. It has been created and funded by the vaccination guru Bill Gates, and so has GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations), the association of Big Pharma – involved in creating the corona vaccines, and which funds along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) a major proportion of WHO’s budget.

The Great Reset, as announced by WEF’s Klaus Schwab, is supposedly implemented by Agenda ID2020. It is more than meets the eye. Agenda ID2020 is even anchored in the SDGs, as SDG 16.9 “by 2030 provide legal [digital] identity for all, including free birth registration”. This fits perfectly into the overall goal of SDG 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

Following the official path of the UN Agenda 2030 of achieving the SDGs, the ‘implementing’ Agenda ID2020 – which is currently being tested on school children in Bangladesh – will provide digitized IDs possibly in the form of nano-chips implanted along with compulsory vaccination programs, will promote digitization of money and the rolling out of 5G – which would be needed to upload and monitor personal data on the nano chips and to control the populace. Agenda ID2020 will most likely also include ‘programs’ – through vaccination? – of significantly reducing world population. Eugenics is an important component in the control of future world population under a NOW/OWO – see also Georgia Guidestones, mysteriously built in 1980.

The ruling elite used the lockdown as an instrument to carry out this agenda. Its implementation would naturally face massive protests, organized and funded along the same lines as were the BLM protests and demonstrations. They may not be peaceful – and may not be planned as being peaceful. Because to control the population in the US and in Europe, where most of the civil unrest would be expected, a total militarization of the people is required. This is well under preparation.

In his essay “The Big Plantation” John Steppling reports from a NYT article that a “minimum of  93,763 machine guns, 180,718 magazine cartridges, hundreds of silencers and an unknown number of grenade launchers have been provided to state and local police departments in the US since 2006. This is in addition to at least 533 planes and helicopters, and 432 MRAPs — 9-foot high, 30-ton Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicles with gun turrets and more than 44,900 pieces of night vision equipment, regularly used in nighttime raids in Afghanistan and Iraq.” He adds that this militarization is part of a broader trend. Since the late 1990s, about 89 percent of police departments in the United States serving populations of 50,000 people or more had a PPU (Police Paramilitary Unit), almost double of what existed in the mid-1980s. He refers to these militarized police as the new Gestapo.

Even before Covid, about 15% to 20% of the population was on or below the poverty line in the United States. The post-covid lockdown economic annihilation will at least double that percentage – and commensurately increase the risk for civil turbulence and clashes with authorities – further enhancing the reasoning for a militarized police force.

None of these scenarios will, of course, be presented to the public by the WEF in January 2021. These are decisions taken behind closed doors by the key actors for the Beast. However, this grandiose plan of the Great Reset does not have to happen. There is at least half the world population and some of the most powerful countries, economically and militarily – like China and Russia – opposed to it. “Reset” maybe yes, but not in these western terms. In fact, a reset of kinds is already happening with China about to roll out a new People’s Bank of China backed blockchain-based cryptocurrency, the crypto RMB, or yuan. This is not only a hard currency based on a solid economy, it is also supported by gold.

While President Trump keeps trashing China for unfair trade, for improperly managing the covid pandemic, for stealing property rights – China bashing no end – that China depends on the US and that the US will cut trading ties with China – or cut ties altogether, China is calling Trump’s bluff. China is quietly reorienting herself towards the ASEAN countries plus Japan (yes, Japan!) and South Korea, where trade already today accounts for about 15% of all China’s trade and is expected to double in the next five years.

True, China’s exports did decline by about 3% in April 2020 as a result of the covid-lockdown, but US exports decreased by almost 8% in the same period. It is clear that the vast majority of US industries could not survive without Chinese supply chains. The western dependence on Chinese medical supplies is particularly strong. Let alone Chinese dependence by US consumers. In 2019, US total consumption, about 70% of GDP, amounted to $13.3 trillion, of which a fair amount is directly imported from China or dependent on ingredients from China.

The WEF-masters are confronted with a real dilemma. Their plan depends very much on the dollar supremacy which would continue to allow dishing out sanctions and confiscating assets from those countries opposing US rule; a dollar-hegemony which would allow imposing the components of The Great Reset scheme as described above.

At present, the dollar is fiat money, debt-money created from thin air. It has no backing whatsoever. Therefore, its worth as a reserve currency is increasingly decaying, especially vis-à-vis the new crypto-yuan from China. In order to compete with the Chinese yuan, the US Government would have to move away from its monetary Ponzi-scheme, by separating itself from the 1913 Federal Reserve Act and print her own US-economy- and possibly gold-backed (crypto) money – not fiat FED-money, as is the case today. That would mean cutting the more than 100-year old ties to the Rothschild and Co. clan-owned FED, and creating a real peoples-owned central bank. Not impossible, but highly improbable. Here, two Beasts might clash, as world power is at stake.

Meanwhile, China, with her philosophy of endless creation, would continue forging ahead unstoppably with her mammoth socioeconomic development plan of the 21st Century, the Belt and Road Initiative, connecting and bridging the world with infrastructure for land and maritime transport, with joint research and industrial projects, cultural exchanges – and not least, multinational trade with “win-win” characteristics, equality for all partners – towards a multi-polar world, towards a world with a common future for mankind.

Today already more than 120 countries are associated with BRI – and the field is wide open for others to join – and to defy, unmask and unplug The Great Reset of the West.

Do Not Belittle Protesters in the U.S. by calling their Struggle a “Color Revolution”

For almost a decade, I have been covering “Color Revolutions” in virtually all parts of the world. While making a film for TeleSur, I was facing Egyptian tanks, risking my life under sniper fire, getting roughed-up in the middle of clashes of the supporters of al-Sisi and Morsi.

Together with Syrian commanders, I was also facing the terrorists in Idlib; challenged the Ukrainian fascists; encountering Bolivian indigenous elders high in the Altiplano after the revolution of Evo Morales and MAS was crashed by the U.S.-sponsored coup in 2019. I regularly worked in Venezuela, Lebanon, and Iraq. And, of course, again and again, I have been returning to Hong Kong, reporting on systematic Western attempts to radicalize SAR’s youth and to harm China.

I mention all this just in order to establish that I am very well aware of how those “Color Revolutions” are triggered and implemented.

“Color Revolutions!” Unlike many “analysts” who are now tossing this term left and right, often without ever experiencing the events first hand, I spoke with the people on the ground, examining dynamics, asking endless questions. On many occasions, I was risking my life to get a philosophical context and the story right.

Frankly, I am sick of conspiracy theories, ignorance, clichés, and arrogance of those “analysts” who, from the comfort of their couch, somewhere in Europe or North America, are passing judgments and conclusions, with that proud look of superiority.

Since the police murdered Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis, since the United States literally exploded, since the African Americans, Native Americans and other appallingly oppressed people went to the streets in hundreds of the cities demanding justice; a substantial group of mainly white ‘we-know-everything’ ‘analysts’ began belittling protesters, calling them ‘violent,’ calling them ‘riots,’ calling them ‘creations of Soros and the Zionists’! And at the end, with dark sarcasm, declaring that the United States itself is now suffering from what it has been spreading all over the world for years – from the so-called “Color Revolution.”

Many of those ‘analysts’ became so aggressive and vocal that they literally managed to monopolize the ‘alternative narrative.’ Suddenly, there was hardly any space left for those of us who were continuously writing, using traditional internationalist, left-wing perspective.

*****

First of all, even the term itself – “Color Revolutions” – became a bad cliché.

The Western empire has been destroying the world for some 500+ years, in the most brutal ways imaginable. Hundreds of millions of lives were lost. Entire continents were plundered. People have been enslaved.

At the end of the colonial era, in various parts of our planet, at least some semi-independence was achieved. But countless governments in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America were still taking diktat directly from Washington, London, Paris, and other Western capitals.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the situation looked desperate. But with the rise of China and Russia, as well as Iran, great hope returned, and many countries embarked on the second stage of de-colonialization.

The process was confused and confusing. Each country was different. There were attempts to trigger real revolutions (Egypt), but there were also some clearly anti-revolutionary and right-wing movements (Syria, Ukraine) born.

In many countries where genuine grievances of the people brought masses to the streets, masses which were demanding mainly social and political reforms, the West quickly infiltrated several movements and literally kidnaped the revolutions. This is what happened in Egypt, but also, a few years later, in Lebanon and Iraq.

But to claim that Egypt had not attempted a revolution would be insulting, patronizing, and incorrect! Egypt was suffering from the terrible pro-Western regime and from the military. Egyptian people rose. I was working with a group of Marxist doctors during the process; I saw it all, from the ground, so to speak. But the revolution was infiltrated and finally destroyed.

Cairo battles

In Lebanon, too. For five years, I was based there; in Beirut and Asia. People were fed up with the so-called ‘confessional democracy,’ of the religions tearing-apart the nation, of savage capitalism, collapsed infrastructure, and non-existent social services. Hezbollah, hated by the West and Israel, has been the only solid provider of social services to all deprived Lebanese people, for years and decades. And so, in Lebanon, too, people rose. Late, in 2019, but rose. Sure, a few weeks after, I began spotting clenched fists of “Odpor” and “Canvas” on the Martyr’s Square (those used in Serbia, when President Milosevich was forced out of power, with full sponsorship of the West). Sure, the West began supporting rebels, because it wanted to get rid of Hezbollah, which has been part of the ruling coalition. But people of Lebanon do have thousands of legitimate grievances; reasons to rebel. However, the West has been skillfully infiltrating and, to some extent, manipulating the uprising, which is still going on until this day. And we have no idea where it is all going to lead.

Lebanon

Do you see how complex the situation is? It does not fit any of the simplifications, and clichés! And, of course, it is even more complicated than how I describe it here. It takes entire books to explain.

Syria

Syria: another totally different story, and absolutely distinctive species of “Color Revolutions,” if it is how you want to call it. Some grievances, yes. But also, a solid pan-Arab socialist state, which the West, Saudis, Qataris, Israelis, and other allies of Washington wanted desperately to destroy; government they were aiming to overthrow. After a relatively mild rebellion in Aleppo and Holms, supported by Gulf states coalition, and the West, Saudis and Turks began injecting monstrous, murderous combat forces into Syria from ISIS to Uyghurs, and everything in between.

All these cases of interference from the West are totally distinctive, although some patterns can be detected. And we are still in the same cultural and geographical area.

Maidan from above

Now look further away: Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Hong Kong (China).

In all these places, there are direct interventions, clear counter-revolution! It is financed, supported, and coordinated from Washington, London, Berlin, Paris, and other Western capitals.

Victims of the coup: indigenous elders

In Bolivia, white, racist, fundamentalist Christian elites overthrew, with the full support of the White House, the legitimate multi-cultural, democratic, and enormously successful government of President Evo Morales. It was done after agitation by a small sector of Bolivians, clearly financed from abroad and by the local elites. One month after the coup, I was working all over the Altiplano, taking down testimonies of indigenous people who were humiliated, tortured, abused, even killed by a new illegitimate regime.

That’s quite different ‘scenario,’ isn’t it; different from that in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt? Is it really legitimate to hide it all under one single “Color Revolutions” label?

Look at Cuba: decades and decades of terror against this marvelous island! Passenger airplanes being blown out of the sky. Countless assassination plots against its leaders. Chemical warfare, biological warfare, the bombing of cafes, restaurants, and hotels. All proven and documented. And constant attempts to recruit, radicalize Cuban citizens – to force them against their own government.

Venezuela, a nation that offered tremendous hope to the entire divided continent. Venezuela compassionate, brave, built on solidarity. Look what has been done to her. One coup attempt after another. Embargos. Recruitment of treasonous cadres. Attacks from neighboring Colombia. Another “Color Revolution?” Or merely a campaign of terror?

Hong Kong love for the US

Hong Kong:  a city, former British colony, which has been ‘sacrificed’ by the West, while literally converted into a battleground against the most optimistic country on Earth – China. There, the symbol used to be umbrellas, not colors. Now, there seems to be no symbol, whatsoever, just spite and violence and hate.

It is easy to understand that somehow the label of “Color Revolutions” is trivializing everything.

I am surprised that some conspiracy theorists did not come up with a scheme yet that would say that the very term – “Color Revolutions” – has been invented to belittle what has been done to the world by the imperialist West. To throw everything to one bag and to confuse everything.

*****

Back to the United States.

“Color Revolution” there, too? For heaven’s sake, really?

After the murder of Mr. Floyd, protests are being discredited, again and again, by the people who, one would believe, should be standing by the side of the oppressed. Instead, they call rebellion ‘riots,’ they claim that they are backed by Soros, Gates, others!

The terrible truth emerged: in the United States, there is almost no left anymore. No real left. No internationalist left.

Instead, there are tons of conspiracy theory sites.

Significantly, on the streets of Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York, black people are not just demanding justice for themselves; they have been shouting internationalist slogans, demanding justice for the world. It is something new, something marvelous, something you hardly hear in Paris or Berlin.

But this fact goes unnoticed, hardly reported.

The explosion of rage, brave uprising all over the United States, has been targeting those basic foundations of over 200 years long monstrous history on which the country is based. First, the colonialist invasion by the genocidal Europeans, then extermination of the great majority of native people, and simultaneously the most repulsive slavery which was endorsed and used by the founding fathers.

The state of the oppressed people in the U.S.A. today is clearly and directly related, connected to that past. But not only that: the entire state of the world could only be comprehended if viewed in the context of what has been done to the native people and brutalized black slaves in the United States, itself.

Colonialism, extermination campaigns in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, are inter-connected with the plight of non-white people in the United States.

Now, black people in the United States are fighting for themselves and their children, but also for their brothers and sisters in all corners of the world, which is still colonized and plundered by Washington and London.

Do all of the protesters know this? Some do, some don’t, and many feel it, intuitively.

Now, to the point which is made by those who are trying to discredit this uprising: is all this also a power-struggle inside the U.S. establishment? Are Democrats, for instance, trying to manipulate the situation, using it to their advantage?

I have no doubt that there are such attempts. Almost everyone in the United States is always using things, looking for advantages. This is what people are taught to do, living in a savage capitalist system.

But these are two distinct issues!

Even if Gates, Soros, deep state, Democrats, mass media outlets, and who knows who else, wants to kidnap the narrative and derail the uprising, it changes nothing on the fact that the peoples whose lives were, for generations, ruined, are now pissed off no end, and that their rebellion may shake the foundations of the entire country, and the terrible world order!

Even now, as this is being written, the uprising in the U.S. already inspired new movement @PapuanLivesMatter, which is referring to an ongoing genocide in West Papua, performed by the Indonesian state on behalf of Western governments and mining companies.

And this is just a beginning.

Grievances are legitimate. Struggle for justice is legitimate. The essential thing now is to separate the fight against racism, colonialism, and imperialism, from the political interests of the establishment, or part of it.

This separation can only happen on the barricades. And since the education has been kidnapped by the regime, there has to be an accelerated injection of the revolutionary education administered to both protesters and the general public. Education about both the past and the present.

But we should not give up on the protesters!

And calling their uprising “Color Revolution” is disrespectful and, yes, racist!

Their rage is legitimate. And, of course, the rage of the people all over the world is legitimate, too, without any doubt.

Conclusion

Point one: Blanket term “Color Revolutions” is wrong. Those who are promoting it are actually confusing the situation. During the last years and decades, the West has been using many different tactics on how to overthrow governments, subvert legitimate movements and revolutions, and deter revolutionary and anti-colonialist struggle. Each has to be examined and exposed separately, individually. Otherwise, it would create indigestible, on purpose confusing mass, and further damage independence struggle. Otherwise, nihilism would be spread, and revolutionary zeal deterred.

Point two: in the United States – the ongoing struggle against racism, segregation, and imperialism is a legitimate struggle, which is having a tremendous and positive influence on the entire world. If there are political interests that are trying to undermine and derail it, they should be exposed by the people in the United States. But it does not mean at all that the protesters should be discouraged, let alone ridiculed. Those who are fighting for justice, and for the entire world, should be embraced and full-heartedly supported!

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

Why This is Not an Emmett Till Moment

Why is this not an Emmett Till moment?

The quick, simple response is because the Democratic Party is where social movements go to die and this will be absorbed into their own conservative narrative.

The open casket for Emmett shocked the nation, the white nation that is. It was neither shocking nor surprising for the majority of black Americans. They’ve seen it all too often before, just not with the exposition that Mrs. Till orchestrated in order to shock the world with an open casket. Many would rightfully say the civil rights movement truly began with this horrific murder and necessary showcase.

Attitudes were different back then. Polite society (liberal whites) knew the black American was being treated unfairly but for many it was an acceptable situation. Of course, many people in the mainstream abhorred the treatments and fought along with their brothers and sisters to reign in the oppression. But for the longest time after Reconstruction, there was a status quo.

Lynchings rarely made the papers but how many editorials regularly railed against Jim Crow enough to change attitudes? All Americans had to deal with WW1, the booming 20s, the Great Depression, and then WW2. The plight of the poor and minorities was of little concern to all who held power, as it is in many ways still today, thanks to our capitalist system.

Then came the horrific killing of Emmett Till and the subsequent kangaroo court trial that acquitted the murderers. There were many sensational cases throughout the 20th century but often it involved either the rich and famous or those already of national fame, or infamy. There was Sacco and Vanzetti, Leopold and Loeb, Scopes Monkey Trial, Hauptmann’s trial for allegedly killing Lindbergh’s baby, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and a few others involving heirs and big name custody fights. When it came to the Emmett Till trial, race was the issue and the first of its kind to kindle the flames of social revolution or upheaval.

The brutal murder of George Floyd was very different. We won’t know until the trial, but it could very well be that race may actually have played a minor role. Chauvin knew Floyd and there was talk of bad blood between them, especially regarding pay at the club where both served as bouncers. And, yes, he may have had animus for him just because he was black. The reaction by the entire world, enhanced by an already existing Black Lives Matter movement, is clearly focused on race, as it should, and police brutality against all, as all are seeing how thuggish the police are to all protesters for social change, regardless of color. What we’re seeing is the conflation of the issue that the police are the greatest threat to civil society that specifically targets blacks and the poor, because they know they can get away with it, and the larger picture that the police primarily serve the interests of the wealthy, of property, and the economic system of capitalism that requires a substandard living for many to prevent any form of egalitarian society and true upward mobility for the masses.


Many would say that there is a sea change. “Defund the police” is popping up everywhere. Billboards and buildings throughout the world, not just in the US, are defaced with this slogan. Racist statues are being taken down or torn down in larger numbers than before. Many go so far as to say abolish the police, and even the right wing, capitalist, war mongering paper, the New York Times, had an editorial arguing for its abolition. City councils are taking the defunding to heart. Of course, Minneapolis is the most prominent but we see it being proposed in, of course, Seattle, home of the modern day Paris Commune, known as the CHAZ, and Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Baltimore and DC now, etc. Almost sounds like “Dancing in the Streets”. Mayors are called to resign for supporting the police.

It’s very likely that there will be budget cuts and perhaps re-allocations of funds to social services that do a hell of a better job than police work in order to alleviate the causes of crime. But overall, that’s window dressing. Will training by Israeli IDF thugs stop? Will enough school boards nation-wide cancel their school police presence? Certain tactics might not be permitted, like choke holds and maybe even tear gas, a weapon outlawed by the Geneva Convention, but will they return their tanks and other weapons of war as to not appear as an occupation army?

At a protest, will they continue to be dressed for war? Will peaceful and unarmed white and black protesters be treated in the same respectful way as armed white, right wing, often white supremacists, protesters?

The icing on the cake is time. Time is ripe for revolution like very few times in our past. And it looks like our brothers and sisters in the streets have the upper hand. Considering that schools (public and universities) are out for the summer, there’s still a pandemic keeping people away from leisurely living, and so many are out of work, one would expect our American Spring to roll into summer. But there’s something else on the calendar which will kill the momentum. November’s election. With Bernie Sanders playing the dutiful role of sheepdog for the Democratic Party and giving up on the idea of revolution, and Trump becoming more insane by the minute, the focus of so many, including the protesters, might very well be centered on removing him. Like it or not, Biden will probably be the Democratic nominee and so many noses will be held as they pull the lever or mail in their ballots, just to remove Trump. It doesn’t matter that Biden opposes everything, including defunding the police, that the protesters demand. It doesn’t matter that his heroes are America’s past, notorious racists. It doesn’t matter that people are losing their jobs and health care and Biden openly opposes universal, tax paid, health care. And it doesn’t matter that so many black people are so threatened, not just by the police, but by the entire judicial system, that Biden past legislative history will be momentarily forgiven, just so that a Democrat can remove Trump.

It’s also very likely that more black Americans than ever before will refrain from voting for the Democrat, but strategically, they don’t really count all that much. The big cities with large black populations are in states that normally vote Democratic, but they are a minority within. Where they may be majority in certain cities are often located in the South, which would mostly vote for Trump, anyway. It is the white liberal, the suburban white moms, the Blue No Matter Who people, who will divert attention away from George Floyd and all the others, as they have been doing for so many years. And considering that many of these horrific murders before Floyd also happened under the Obama/Biden administration, with no long lasting consequences, it’s hard to see Mr. Floyd being the start of something real and long lasting. Maybe the rest of the world that has seized this moment in history will carry through to see that their demands are met. But as stated above, the Democratic Party is where social movements go to die. This is not an Emmett Till moment. It’s just another footnote in American history.

The Uprising Is Only Beginning: Building Power To Win Our Demands

The current uprising against police violence and racism is just beginning. It is rapidly shifting public consciousness on issues of policing, violence against Black people and others, and systemic racism. The movement is deepening and becoming broader as well as putting forward solutions and making demands.

The confluence of crises including recent police violence, the COVID-19 pandemic, and economic collapse along with the ongoing crises of lack of healthcare, poverty, inequality, homelessness, personal debt, and climate plus awareness of mirage democracy in the United States have created a historic moment full of possibilities. If we continue to organize and build power, the potential for dramatic change is great.

As we wrote last week, there are dangers coming from liberal Democrats and the black misleadership class who are trying to quell the protests with distractions and weak reforms. To achieve changes that will solve the crises we face, demands must address the root causes of them. And, we must understand the dynamics of demands in social movements – what it takes to win and to hold the ruling class accountable for enacting them.

Anti-police violence protester confronts militarized police at the White House on June 3. 2020 (By Oliver Douliery from Getty Images)

Demands to Defund and Abolish the Police

The demands to defund and abolish police are now part of the national dialogue. This is a major advancement for the movement against police violence. The pushback against these demands is coming from across the mainstream political spectrum from Donald Trump to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

When the bi-partisans unite, they are often wrong as they represent two parties funded by the millionaires and billionaires who put their interests first. Bipartisan means the various wings of the ruling class, represented by the two corporate parties, are uniting and that means a united attack on the people. They seek to protect systems that have created horrendous inequality and injustice. The police are the enforcement arm that protects the ruling class from the population impacted by that inequality and injustice.

Christy E. Lopez, a professor at Georgetown Law School who co-directs the Program on Innovative Policing, has worked inside the government on efforts to reform and control police for 25 years. Her conclusion: “it has become clear to me that ‘reform’ is not enough. Making sure that police follow the rule of law is not enough. Even changing the laws is not enough.”

There is tension within the movement against police violence between those who seek reform and those who want to change the whole system – to abolish policing as it exists and create alternatives. In 2016, activists across the country built encampments to heighten awareness for the demand to abolish the police, provide reparations for victims, and invest in black and brown communities. They demanded “community-based forms of policing in its place that are accountable to residents.”

Advocates of abolition consistently make the point that “abolition requires more than police officers disappearing from the streets. . . Police abolition could mean and require society to decrease and eliminate its reliance on policing.” It also means decriminalizing many activities that result in police abuse; i.e. decriminalizing or legalizing drugs and the untaxed sale of cigarettes that create illegal markets. Police spend more than 90 percent of their time on things people find annoying or social and health issues that police are ill-equipped to handle. These lead to police interactions that result in police violence, especially in black and brown communities.

Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson writes that the movement needs to become more radical, not more moderate. He points out that the solutions to the current crisis are deeper than reforming the police, explaining there are “calls to eradicate white supremacy, capitalism, heteropatriarchy, and settler-colonialism that have been on clear display.” The founding of police came out of the most extreme form of capitalism, slavery, where those with money owned other people as unpaid workers. Slave patrols developed into modern-day police so the very root of policing is rotten.

Max Rameau and Netfa Freeman write:

The core issue is POWER, not racism. We cannot change our reality by ending ‘racism,’ or the attitudes and opinions others hold of us. Our conditions will only change when we shift power into our own hands and exercise self-determination, thereby rendering the opinions of racists irrelevant.

When it comes to changing the power dynamic, one demand — democratic community control of the police — stands out among the others. Communities being able to hire and fire police officers, review their budgets, impanel a grand jury to investigate crimes, and approve police contracts among other changes, reverse the power dynamic. The people would be in democratic control of how their communities are policed and by whom. This is a long-term demand dating back to the Black Panthers, as Green presidential candidate Howie Hawkins points out. This transition to people-power over police is seen by many as the key transition step to abolition or replacement of the police.

Rameau and Freeman conclude that “the police MUST exist in order to protect property and wealth from those who do not have.” They argue that defunding police without changing that dynamic means the wealthy elites will find other ways to protect themselves, private police who are even less accountable than the public institution.

Akuno urges “the demand for abolition should be raised to heighten the contradictions. But, it must be accompanied by the call for revolution, and the organizing effort to dismantle the entire system.” He adds we “have to resist the elevation of the liberal and Democratic party narratives and positions. We have to assert a counter-narrative in all arenas — one that aims towards transforming the Floyd rebellion into something potentially transformative.”

People stand in front of the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct sign in the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” while continuing to demonstrate against racial inequality and call for the defunding of Seattle police in Seattle on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. (By Lindsey Wasson, Reuters)

Building Power for Positive Change

The power structure has started to make some concessions over the past few weeks of protests, but none of these has altered the systems that maintain the current inequalities and injustices.

Some police have been fired and charged for committing violence and murder. It remains to be seen if they will be convicted and kept from policing anywhere in the future. Some cities are talking about defunding or disbanding the police, but it remains to be seen what the details will be. Schools are breaking contracts with police. More segments of the population from the media to athletes to tech companies are challenging racism and oppression in our society. These changes are happening because the people power being displayed has exposed injustice, garnered support and put the elites in a panic. The elites need to give the people something to stop the protests.

The widespread actions of militarized police using extreme violence across the country backfired and resulted in the protests growing. Federal courts in Colorado and Washington ordered governments to stop using chemical warfare against US citizens. Adding 17,000 National Guard troops in 23 states caused the National Guard troops’ morale to plummet in embarrassment over using military force to stop people from exercising their constitutional rights. President Trump’s threat of military force caused divisions in the military as retired and active generals, GI’s and National Guard troops spoke out against it.

Popular power is growing in the United States, but to build enough power to win demands that significantly alter the economic and political systems will require sustained effort. While some reforms are significant because they may meet some needs of those in the movement, we can’t stop there.

As we describe in the second class of the Popular Resistance School, if movements make concessions too early, before they have the power to make sure their demands are met and to hold leaders accountable for their actions, they will fail. The ruling class will often feign concessions to quiet the rebellion knowing all along that they are still in control.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, after signing a police reform bill, exemplified this when he said, “You don’t need to protest, you won. You accomplished your goal.”

When negotiating demands, it is all about power. If the sides coming together to negotiate do not have equal power, then the weaker side will lose. They may be given promises, but they can’t force the power holders to keep them. It is significant that elements in the society are opposed to military attacks on people expressing their First Amendment rights, but we must continue to heighten the conflict until there are real splits within the power structure.

In order to maintain their power, the ruling class requires support from the people.

  • They require people to give them authority. That is why the autonomous zone in Seattle is so powerful, it is challenging that legitimacy.
  • They require people to do the actual work, from the bureaucrats to city maintenance workers to other essential workers. That is why the call for a general strike is so powerful. If workers slow down or withhold their labor, governments and cities won’t function.
  • They require skills and knowledge of people. The ruling elites don’t know how to run the machines or systems on which they depend.
  • They require control over material resources such as energy, water and property. Last December, electrical workers in France cut off power to the police stations, big businesses and management and turned the power on for workers and the poor.
  • They require the ability to punish people who disobey them. If guards and police refuse to stop people, courts refuse to prosecute and jails refuse to hold people, the power elites lose that control.

The bottom line is that we have the ability to remove power from the ruling class and that must be our goal if we are to win the changes we need in this moment of multiple crises. The seeds of transformation have been planted, now it is our task to nurture them.

We do that by putting out a vision of the changes we require and continuing to protest in support of that vision. We need to build relationships with others in our community to raise awareness of the crises and how to stop them. We need to support each other through mutual aid and building alternative systems to meet basic needs. Through our collective effort, we can stop the destructive machine and create a new world.

Stop the Evictions Before They Start

The system based on a combination of police brutality, mass imprisonment, and evictions at gunpoint may be collapsing, but if it’s going to fall in the direction we want it to fall in, we need to push it that way.  And if we want to make that happen, we have to organize to stop the impending wave of evictions before it starts.

*****

This society is at a crossroads in so many ways.  In recent weeks, a multiracial uprising in the streets of the US and other countries is demanding not more ineffective police reforms, but a total transformation of the concept of policing.  The ideas are not new, but the degree to which the notion of defunding the police has suddenly become commonplace is new.

The powers-that-be and the corporate media are very actively trying to frame the questions as narrowly as possible, at every opportunity, sticking as much as they can to rehashing useless reforms and talking about bad apples, better bias training, and so on.  They will avoid the elephant in the living room as much as possible, and do everything they can to make sure there’s a sufficiently complex set of mirrors surrounding the elephant so that we don’t see it.

The reason they must avoid the elephant at all costs is because the horrifically unequal and unsustainable system of capitalism, this corrupt plutocracy that we live in, can only be held together through constant deception, and the threat of armed force and imprisonment.  Deception whenever possible, armed force and imprisonment whenever necessary.  When and to what degree the different strategies of control are employed depends on various factors, such as race and class.

Portland, Oregon, my home town for the past thirteen years, is the most rent-burdened city in the United States.  This was the case well before the pandemic.  Depending on the year, Portland also has the highest number of police killings of Black people in the US, per capita.  If these statistics might be related, I have no studies to cite, but there they are, anyway, these facts that stand starkly side by side.

Here’s another statistic:  in the United States we have a census every ten years.  A lot happens from one year to the next, let alone every ten years, but nevertheless, what is known for sure is that between the census in 2000 and the census in 2010, the city of Portland lost half of its Black population.  Since 2010 it has lost more.

There is no statistic to neatly measure the gains or losses for many other demographics, but this number can easily be assumed to be more or less representative in terms of the many artists and other lower-paid workers who have been forced to leave the city.  The process of gentrification — the process of investment companies buying up massive numbers of buildings throughout the US (and other countries) and then proceeding to maximize their profits by charging as much rent as the market will bear, while they create the market through price-fixing and buying most of the legislators in every state capital — is extremely disruptive, in every possible sense.  What this does to communities and to the lives of people within them cannot be overstated.  It can be called many things, but it is most certainly a vicious form of class war, and it is most certainly a form of urban ethnic cleansing.

This level of social disruption, this ethnic cleansing, this class war relies on many things in order to keep happening.  It relies on the consent of the governed to no small degree — it relies on most people believing they deserve their miserable fates, that it is their fault they can’t afford the rent or the mortgage, that if they just worked harder or got more education, they could achieve like those billionaires have done.  That’s the deception part of the equation.

But when circumstances start to become impossible, the deception gets harder to maintain.  And everyone knows, whether they believe the deception or not, that behind it lies the threat of force — of being beaten, shot, and/or imprisoned.  So, the movement to defund the police needs to be understood as the very radical idea that it is, since it would mean not just the prospect of Black people not having to worry about being shot by uniformed, paid employees of their town or city just for existing, but also the prospect of the investment banks that own much of the rental property in those towns and cities no longer having the option of sending the men with guns in to enforce the laws that they got their legislators to pass.  No more evictions at gunpoint.

What would happen, in a rent-burdened city largely owned by investment banks, when the landlords no longer have the threat of violence to fall back onto?  And what would happen if that police force is not defunded, and if the suspension on evictions currently in place in Portland is lifted, and if the landlords can start filing for evictions all over the city?  There are many unemployed people in this city (like this author) who have been rejected by the Employment Department, or whose unemployment money will soon run out.  There are many people in this city who were just barely managing to come up with rent before the pandemic, who were spending 70% of their earnings on the landlord every month.  There are many people whose credit cards were already maxed out before the pandemic hit, and many others whose credit cards are now at their limits — and they’ve been spending their money on nothing but food and rent.

Once the ban on evictions is lifted, we can expect the waves of evictions to begin.  They won’t happen all at once, however.  People who lost significant income due to the pandemic may be able to put the process off by six months or more.  The future is unwritten, and things are changing rapidly.  Lots can happen between now and the time that the city declares the crisis is over.

But for me and others of us artists that remain in the city of Portland, affiliated in the loose-knit network called Artists for Rent Control, it is clear that the time to prepare for the evictions is now, while they are still banned.  We say they should remain banned.  Without the threat of forced eviction — that is, without the threat of the police — tenant-landlord relations in society become very, very different.  But as long as the threat exists — or will soon exist once again — we need to be able to respond to it directly.

Doing so will require the participation of a certain cross-section of people in the city of Portland who really believe that another Portland is possible.  Who believe we can stand up to the corporations who would seek to enforce their ability to make obscene profits through their investments in the human need — and human right — to housing.  Who believe we can confidently condemn the system that has produced such deadly inequities — who can ask the question of the bankers that run this country:  what gave you the right to be our landlords?  How did it happen that we taxpayers bailed you out only a decade ago, and now you’ve somehow managed to buy the buildings we live in, and double the rent?  What kind of dystopia have we woken up in?  What sector of the matrix is this, anyway?

Artists for Rent Control does not make any claims to knowing the whole way forward here, but we know one thing:  popular education, community-building, and direct action are effective and important tactics.  The popular education part is helping people to understand that another world is possible.  This is the role of art in any social movement, along with the community-building that tends to take place anytime a public event involving music or other forms of artistic expression takes place.  The direct action part that our little group is initiating is what we are calling Portland Emergency Eviction Response (PEER).

The concept is well-worn and simple, in its essence.  You enter your phone number and sign up for text notifications.  When we get confirmation that an eviction is taking place, you’ll receive a text telling you where it’s happening.  You then drop whatever you’re doing, and head immediately to the address provided.  What happens next depends on the situation, and is impossible to predict with certainty, but the fact is that it is often the case that just a few dozen people showing up to an attempted eviction will cause the cops to give up and leave.

A successful movement to lower the rents, to impose rent control, to pressure government entities to get involved by buying buildings from recalcitrant landlords in order to turn them into housing collectives, must inevitably involve many people, many tactics, many approaches, just like anything else.  But this form of direct action has generally been an important element of any successful struggle between landlords and tenants.

What we need, and what the time may be ripe for, is a return to the kinds of tactics employed by the Anti-Rent movement in New York’s Hudson Valley in the 1840’s, to take one example.  The most important of the tactics was this one:  whenever the landlord sent in the police or some other armed group to try to seize the property of tenant farmer family, or evict them from their farm, the farmers would blow a tin horn, which would reverberate through the rolling hills of the region.  Within an hour or so, hundreds of other tenant farmers would show up — generally on horseback, wearing disguises, and armed.

For nine years of what became known as the Rent Strike Wars, the tenant farmers of the Van Rennsalaer estate did not pay the rent, and did not get evicted.  Though there were many standoffs between masked rent strikers and police, for nine years, not a shot was actually fired in either direction.  For nine years, every time, the police retreated.  I’m simplifying the story a bit, but in the end, the landlord was forced to sell his estate to the tenant farmers, and many progressive laws were enacted.  Our effort here is to revive the tin horns, in the form of text messages, but otherwise our hope and our belief is that by employing similar tactics, we may get similar results.  Our belief is that whatever might be coming next in the struggle for fairness, justice and equality in this unfair, unjust and unequal society, eviction abolition will be a first step in the right direction.

Parallels between Minneapolis and Jerusalem are More than Skin Deep

It is hard to ignore the striking parallels between the recent scenes of police brutality in cities across the United States and decades of violence from Israel’s security forces against Palestinians.

A video that went viral late last month of a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, killing a black man, George Floyd, by pressing a knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes has triggered a fortnight of mass protests across the US – and beyond.

The footage was the latest disturbing visual evidence of a US police culture that appears to treat Black Americans as an enemy – and a reminder that rogue police officers are all too rarely punished.

Floyd’s lynching by Chauvin as three other officers either looked on, or participated, has echoes of troubling scenes familiar from the occupied territories. Videos of Israeli soldiers, police and armed settlers beating, shooting and abusing Palestinian men, women and children have long been a staple of social media.

The dehumanisation that enabled Floyd’s murder has been regularly on view in the occupied Palestinian territories. In early 2018 Israeli snipers began using Palestinians, including children, nurses, journalists and the disabled, as little more than target practice during weekly protests at a perimeter fence around Gaza imprisoning them.

Widespread impunity

And just as in the US, the use of violence by Israeli police and soldiers against Palestinians rarely leads to prosecutions, let alone convictions.

A few days after Floyd’s killing, an autistic Palestinian man, Iyad Hallaq – who had a mental age of six, according to his family – was shot seven times by police in Jerusalem. None of the officers has been arrested.

Faced with embarrassing international attention in the wake of Floyd’s murder, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a rare statement on the killing of a Palestinian by the security services. He called Hallaq’s murder “a tragedy” and promised an investigation.

The two killings, days apart, have underscored why the slogans “Black Lives Matter” and “Palestinian Lives Matter” sit naturally alongside each other, whether at protests or in social media posts.

There are differences between the two cases, of course. Nowadays Black Americans have citizenship, most can vote (if they can reach a polling station), laws are no longer explicitly racist, and they have access to the same courts – if not always the same justice – as the white population.

That is not the situation for most Palestinians under Israeli rule. They live under occupation by a foreign army, arbitrary military orders govern their lives, and they have very limited access to any kind of meaningful legal redress.

And there is another obvious difference. Floyd’s murder has shocked many white Americans into joining the protests. Hallaq’s murder, by contrast, has been ignored by the vast majority of Israelis, apparently accepted once again as the price of maintaining the occupation.

Treated like an enemy

Nonetheless, comparisons between the two racist policing cultures are worth highlighting. Both spring from a worldview shaped by settler-colonial societies founded on dispossession, segregation and exploitation.

Israel still largely views Palestinians as an enemy that needs to be either expelled or made to submit. Black Americans, meanwhile, live with the legacy of a racist white culture that until not so long ago justified slavery and apartheid.

Palestinians and Black Americans have long had their dignity looted; their lives too often are considered cheap.

Sadly, most Israeli Jews are in deep denial about the racist ideology that underpins their major institutions, including the security services. Tiny numbers protest in solidarity with Palestinians, and those that do are widely seen by the rest of the Israeli public as traitors.

Many white Americans, on the other hand, have been shocked to see how quickly US police forces – faced with widespread protests – have resorted to aggressive crowd-control methods of the kind only too familiar to Palestinians.

Those methods include the declaration of curfews and closed areas in major cities; the deployment of sniper squads against civilians; the use of riot teams wearing unmarked uniforms or balaclavas; arrests of, and physical assaults on, journalists who are clearly identifiable; and the indiscriminate use of tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets to wound protesters and terrify them off the streets.

It does not end there.

President Donald Trump has described demonstrators as “terrorists”, echoing Israel’s characterisation of all Palestinian protest, and threatened to send in the US army, which would replicate even more precisely the situation faced by Palestinians.

Like Palestinians, the US black community – and now the protesters – have been recording examples of their abuse on their phones and posting the videos on social media to highlight the deceptions of police statements and media reporting of what has been taking place.

Tested on Palestinians

None of these parallels should surprise us. For years US police forces, along with many others around the world, have been queueing at Israel’s door to learn from its decades of experience in crushing Palestinian resistance.

Israel has capitalised on the need among western states, in a world of depleting resources and the long-term contraction of the global economy, to prepare for future internal uprisings by a growing underclass.

With readymade laboratories in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel has long been able to develop and field-test on captive Palestinians new methods of surveillance and subordination. As the largest underclass in the US, urban black communities were always likely to find themselves on the front line as US police forces adopted a more militarised approach to policing.

These changes finally struck home during the protests that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 after a black man, Michael Brown, was killed by police. Dressed in military-style fatigues and body armour, and backed by armoured personnel carriers, local police looked more like they were entering a war zone than there to “serve and protect”.

Trained in Israel

It was then that human rights groups and others started to highlight the extent to which US police forces were being influenced by Israel’s methods of subjugating Palestinians. Many forces had been trained in Israel or involved in exchange programmes.

Israel’s notorious paramilitary Border Police, in particular, has become a model for other countries. It was the Border Police that shot dead Hallaq in Jerusalem shortly after Floyd was killed in Minneapolis.

The Border Police carry out the hybrid functions of a police force and an army, operating against Palestinians in the occupied territories and inside Israel, where a large Palestinian minority live with a very degraded citizenship.

The institutional premise of the Border Police is that all Palestinians, including those who are formally Israeli citizens, should be dealt with as an enemy. It is at the heart of a racist Israeli policing culture identified 17 years ago by the Or Report, the country’s only serious review of its police forces.

The Border Police increasingly look like the model US police forces are emulating in cities with large black populations.

Many dozens of Minneapolis police officers were trained by Israeli experts in “counter-terrorism” and “restraint” techniques at a conference in Chicago in 2012.

Derek Chauvin’s chokehold, using his knee to press down on Floyd’s neck, is an “immobilisation” procedure familiar to Palestinians. Troublingly, Chauvin was training two rookie officers at the time he killed Floyd, passing on the department’s institutional knowledge to the next generation of officers.

Monopoly of violence

These similarities should be expected. States inevitably borrow and learn from each other on matters most important to them, such as repressing internal dissent. The job of a state is to ensure it maintains a monopoly of violence inside its territory.

It is the reason why the Israeli scholar Jeff Halper warned several years ago in his book War Against the People that Israel had been pivotal in developing what he called a “global pacification” industry. The hard walls between the military and the police have crumbled, creating what he termed “warrior cops”.

The danger, according to Halper, is that in the long run, as the police become more militarised, we are all likely to find ourselves being treated like Palestinians. Which is why a further comparison between the US strategy towards the black community and Israel’s towards Palestinians needs highlighting.

The two countries are not just sharing tactics and policing methods against protests once they break out. They have also jointly developed longer-term strategies in the hope of dismantling the ability of the black and Palestinian communities they oppress to organise effectively and forge solidarity with other groups.

Loss of historic direction

If one lesson is clear, it is that oppression can best be challenged through organised resistance by a mass movement with clear demands and a coherent vision of a better future.

In the past that depended on charismatic leaders with a fully developed and well-articulated ideology capable of inspiring and mobilising followers. It also relied on networks of solidarity between oppressed groups around the world sharing their wisdom and experience.

The Palestinians were once led by figures who commanded national support and respect, from Yasser Arafat to George Habash and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The struggle they led was capable of galvanising supporters around the world.

These leaders were not necessarily united. There were debates over whether Israeli settler colonialism would best be undermined through secular struggle or religious fortitude, through finding allies among the oppressor nation or defeating it using its own violent methods.

These debates and disagreements educated the wider Palestinian public, clarified the stakes for them, and provided a sense of a historic direction and purpose. And these leaders became figureheads for international solidarity and revolutionary fervour.

That has all long since disappeared. Israel pursued a relentless policy of jailing and assassinating Palestinian leaders. In Arafat’s case, he was confined by Israeli tanks to a compound in Ramallah before he was poisoned to death in highly suspicious circumstances. Ever since, Palestinian society has found itself orphaned, adrift, divided and disorganised.

International solidarity has been largely sidelined too. The publics of Arab states, already preoccupied with their own struggles, appear increasingly tired of the divided and seemingly hopeless Palestinian cause. And in a sign of our times, western solidarity today is invested chiefly in a boycott movement, which has had to wage its fight on the enemy’s battlefield of consumption and finance.

From confrontation to solace

The black community in the US has undergone parallel processes, even if it is harder to indict quite so directly the US security services for the loss decades ago of a black national leadership. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and the Black Panther movement were hounded by the US security services. They were jailed or felled by assassins, despite their very different approaches to the civil rights struggle.

Today, none are around to make inspiring speeches and mobilise the wider public – either black or white Americans – to take action on the national stage.

Denied a vigorous national leadership, the organised black community at times appeared to have retreated into the safer but more confining space of the churches – at least until the latest protests. A politics of solace appeared to have replaced the politics of confrontation.

A focus on identity

These changes cannot be attributed solely to the loss of national leaders. In recent decades the global political context has been transformed too. After the fall of the Soviet Union 30 years ago, the US not only became the world’s sole superpower but it crushed the physical and ideological space in which political opposition could flourish.

Class analysis and revolutionary ideologies – a politics of justice – were shunted off the streets and increasingly into the margins of academia.

Instead, western political activists were encouraged to dedicate their energies not to anti-imperialism and class struggle but to a much narrower identity politics. Political activism became a competition between social groups for attention and privilege.

As with Palestinian solidarity activism, identity politics in the US has waged its battles on the terrain of a consumption-obsessed society. Hashtags and virtue-signalling on social media have often appeared to serve as a stand-in for social protest and activism.

A moment of transition

The question posed by the current US protests is whether this timid, individualised, acquisitive kind of politics is starting to seem inadequate. The US protesters are still largely leaderless, their struggle in danger of being atomised, their demands implicit and largely shapeless – it is clearer what the protesters don’t want than what they do.

That reflects a current mood in which the challenges facing us all – from permanent economic crisis and the new threat of pandemics to impending climate catastrophe – appear too big, too momentous to make sense of. We are caught in a moment of transition, it seems, destined for a new era – good or bad – we cannot discern clearly yet.

In August, millions are expected to head to Washington in a march to echo the one led by Martin Luther King in 1963. The heavy burden of this historic moment is expected to be carried on the ageing shoulders of the Rev Al Sharpton.

That symbolism may be fitting. It is more than 50 years since western states were last gripped with revolutionary fervour. But the hunger for change that reached its climax in 1968 – for an end to imperialism, endless war and rampant inequality – was never sated.

Oppressed communities around the globe are still hungry for a fairer world. In Palestine and elsewhere, those who suffer brutality, misery, exploitation and indignity still need a champion. They look to Minneapolis and the struggle it launched for a seed of hope.

• First published in Middle East Eye

Of Republics and Empires

If I’m gonna die I’ll die now, right here, fighting you.

— Muhammad Ali to a white college student who challenged his opposition to the Vietnam War

As has been made plain to the entire world, things are not going very well in the Land of the Free. Extreme police violence, normally reserved for poor people, and poor minorities in particular, is now being inflicted indiscriminately across the nation. Mainstream journalists (including foreign press), Hollywood actors, elderly men with cancer, you name it: if you’re attempting to exercise your Constitutional right to peaceably assemble, expect to be attacked with nightsticks, rubber bullets, tear gas, and the rest of the weapons of terror in the policeman’s arsenal.

Expect also to be branded a terrorist by Republican politicians, including, of course, our gruesome president. In their view, the police aren’t being tough enough; in their view, it’s time to deploy the military against American citizens. An “overwhelming show of force” is in order, to quote from Senator Tom Cotton’s notorious New York Times op-ed. As for Antifa, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz says the government ought to “hunt them down like we do those [terrorists] in the Middle East.”

Let that one sink in for a moment. According to a member of the US House of Representatives, the federal government should unleash the hounds of empire on American citizens, tracking and killing them using military drones, illegal cluster bombs, and other munitions. Given what we know about “precision” drone strikes, lots of innocent Americans who happen to be standing near a suspected Antifa member when he or she is summarily executed will also be killed—collateral damage, as they say at the Pentagon. And if Mosul, Raqqa, Fallujah, etc., are anything to go by, the federal government will also pulverize a few American cities in its campaign to root out Antifa.

Those captured alive will be arbitrarily detained without trial at Guantanamo Bay, and they’ll be tortured a bit for good measure, just to keep ’em honest. Trump, circa 2016: “I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

Twitter refused to take down Gaetz’s fascist call to violence, choosing instead to slap a warning label on it, just as they did when Trump threatened to have looters shot in the street. (Remember when Twitter purged thousands of accounts, many of them owned by Americans critical of US foreign policy, under the Orwellian rubric of “inauthentic behavior”?)

In a perverse way, the police are doing us all a favor. By clubbing everybody in sight they are throwing into sharp relief their real purpose, namely, to intimidate and suppress popular social movements on behalf of the folks Adam Smith unlovingly termed “the masters of mankind.” Whether they see it or not—but everyone who isn’t a police officer sees it now—their job is to uphold a system of corporate tyranny for which people like George Floyd routinely pay with their lives. Police are, after all, armed tools of the state, and what is the state if not an armed tool of corporate power? (Ask cui bono? of every war the US has fought over the past seventy-five years, the answer is always the same.) Police are the shock troops of American class warfare.

And yet their martial tactics are failing to work this time, just as they failed to work in the 1960s. En masse, the American public is rejecting police claims to authority, and that’s why we see them—the cops—lashing out with such fear and loathing. They’re experiencing a collective psychological crisis. The state has conferred enormous power on them, and now, thanks to sustained popular pressure, it is going to be forced to pull some of that power away. Rogue officers are being disciplined, fired, charged with crimes, and a number of cities are readjusting their police budgets downward. It only took a couple weeks of widespread demonstrations to get here.

We hear it all the time: democratic improvement requires organized, determined and sustained effort on the part of the public. Things are changed between, not during, elections. This can sound abstract, particularly for a generation of Americans that thinks activism consists of posting slogans on Twitter and Facebook, or of wandering around D.C. wearing hats that look like vulvas. But no longer—now it’s sparkling clear to anyone paying attention what it takes to penetrate the system. Hats off to Black Lives Matter for that.

It is easy to despair of the State of the Union when well over half of our discretionary budget goes to the military; when real wages for American workers haven’t gone up since the ’70s; when, because of a wicked arrangement put together by our corporate masters, millions of people lose their health insurance in the middle of a pandemic; when there are over 400 mass shootings in a single year; when we have more people incarcerated than China and India combined; when we continue raping the planet to maximize short term corporate profits; when police get away with murder; when Donald Trump is president; when … well, you know the story.

With such a critical mass of issues, it’s a matter of time before popular anger and resentment explode. We’re seeing that explosion in real time—along with the implosion of an empire. This is good news. The cracks in the foundation of the American empire are widening, and the whole edifice is beginning to teeter. Inevitably it will come down, collapsing from within. Empires and republics cannot coexist. The interests of one have to be subordinated to the interests of the other. For too long the empire’s interests have won out, at a massive cost, both to America and the world.

That trend is slowly reversing. The American people want out of the empire enterprise; the rest of the world wants us out of it, too, with good reason. That the emperor is wearing no clothes is more glaring now than ever before. For example, our repeated, ham-fisted attempts at a coup in Venezuela. For another example, the maximally-absurd Mike Pompeo “remembering” Tiananmen Square while police attack protesters in the streets of American cities.

It’s all very embarrassing, but also slightly encouraging. Realizing that the state will never voluntarily address the diseases afflicting American society, the people have decided to address them themselves. They’re done watching the United States go to pot while the hoodlums in Washington spend trillions of dollars bombing and invading countries that never did us injury. The enemy is within. To hell with the empire. All we can do now is hasten its demise and hope that there are still some pieces of a republic left to work with when it finally falls.

Defying the Curfew in Oakland on June 3, 2020

June 3 was the night of a protest to defy the recently declared curfew in Oakland and defend our Constitutional rights. Thousands attended, the plaza was packed full. This was the community calling the bluff of Law Enforcement, and the latter didn’t enforce their curfew.

Massive demonstrations had risen up across the country after the George Floyd murder. Police had responded violently with the encouragement of President Trump, who threatened to send the military and told governors to “dominate” the protests, or “look like a bunch of jerks.” “Dominate the battle space” was the White House mantra.

Local officials here in the San Francisco Bay Area are nearly all Democrats, politicians who loudly despise Trump and are part of the “Resistance,” but they are also very much on board for the neoliberal agenda and for police militarization. So here’s how that played out. Trump’s “dominate” speech was on the morning of Monday, June 1, and that same evening Oakland police tear-gassed a march of 15,000 high school students. That demonstration, led by young organizers from Oakland Tech, was peaceful and seemed to be legal — until local authorities suddenly imposed a curfew, effective immediately, and police attacked. Over a hundred were arrested and charged with violating the curfew.

The National Guard was also reportedly on the way; it was already on the streets in Los Angeles and now arriving in Vallejo. Was this going to be martial law? People had been asking such questions since the beginning of the Covid 19 lockdown, now in its tenth week. Was Homeland Security taking advantage of Covid, using it to tighten the screws and strangle our Constitutional rights?

While the George Floyd murder had sparked these demonstrations, the issues were multiple. Along with hundreds of police murders in recent years, many of them here in the East Bay, there were the Covid 19 issues. The lockdown was causing massive unemployment and was being used as a pretext for trillion-dollar handouts to wealthy corporations. Black people fared worst, along with Latinos and Native Americans, but there was massive economic injustice to the 99% of all races, and far worse was likely to follow in months and years to come — that which Naomi Klein called “Disaster Capitalism.” And so in this situation it is totally understandable that the 1% would see militarized police as their indispensable enforcers.

So with the police state closing in, a coalition of East Bay groups called for civil disobedience against the curfew for the evening of Wednesday, June 3 at 8:05 p.m. in downtown Oakland, at Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th & Broadway.

This caught me in a time conflict. I needed to attend, but due to a previous commitment, I also had to leave the demonstration early, no later than 8 o’clock; a rather awkward way to attend an event scheduled for 8:05. At least I’d be there for some of it.”

I took BART, and guessing the station at the plaza would be closed (which it was), I got off at 19, and walked the remaining 4 blocks. It was 6 o’clock, a full 2 hours before the protest.

About a hundred people were widely scattered throughout the mostly empty plaza, apparently in accordance with the rules of social distancing. Other than these few, the whole area was practically deserted. Buildings on all sides of the plaza as well as those up and down Broadway were closed for business and had their windows all covered with sheets of plywood, giving the city center a foreboding appearance of a prospective war zone. But for the moment all was quiet, nervously quiet. There was only a low rhythm of some drums and brass cymbals over on the distant side of this plaza.

No cops in sight either. I looked up at the roofs of the tall buildings on all sides, where during protests of years past I’d sometimes seen a few solitary silhouettes, possibly police observers or perhaps snipers. But this evening those heights were also deserted; there were only the slanting rays of the late afternoon sun. Nor were the ever-present police helicopters up there in the sky. Just the pale moon on a light blue background with a few clouds.

Minutes passed. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Now maybe two hundred had gathered. Members of one group were passing out masks and gave me one. It was a much nicer one than the makeshift one I was wearing, one that my friend and I had made of an old green T-shirt. As 7 p.m. approached I estimated 300 people; then looking up towards the northeast entrance of the plaza, I saw a fairly large contingent approaching, 500 or more. This was the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) contingent coming from Snow Park by Lake Merritt where they’d held a rally. Others were also coming, more and more of them now. I estimated a thousand in the plaza. People had been trickling in; now they were streaming in. The gathering seemed to grow and grow and grow. No longer room for social distancing in this large but crowded plaza. Numbers were in the thousands now.

Signs and banners read “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police.” Others were about our civil liberties, our Constitutional right to assemble peacefully. Many bore the names of George Floyd and numerous other victims of police murder. But there were no speeches this evening, probably no need for any.

Demonstrations are not only political events but also social events where we see old friends and comrades, exchange greetings, hear how we’re all doing. In a crowd this large and where everybody’s wearing masks it can be hard to find people, but even so, I’d hoped to see more. I saw only a small handful of my contemporaries. Where were they all? Sadly it occurred to me that several had passed away only this last year. The once young activists of the Vietnam Era are passing from this earth, but their spirit was here on the scene, marching on.

These were young people, the new generation stepping up to take their part. And there were thousands of them here now.

Eight o’clock was approaching. I saw Gerald, retired electrician and long time union activist, and when I told him I had to leave, he said, “Stay till 8:05. And what you’ll see is nothing happening. Nothing! You’ll see the police unable to dominate the community, and the city officials looking like a bunch of fools.”

From the amphitheater came the sound of drums, very loud, very intense. I couldn’t get near enough to see, but I could hear them all the way over where I stood. They thundered intensely, like a rolling thunder. They’d pause for a few moments, then play again.

These dramatic sounds were like something in the soundtrack of a movie, a very well done movie that is. This was where art interfaced with life.

It was 8:01, and time for me to leave. I walked out in the direction of 15th street, across Telegraph and onto Broadway. People were still arriving. From up the street came a contingent of fifty or so. In groups both large and small, they continued to pour in.

Glancing down Broadway towards the intersection of 14th, the gathering was moving into the intersection. “Black lives matter!” they chanted, then drums, then “Whose Street? Our Street!” Then more drums.

This being a summer night, there was still light. The pale moon was overhead, overseeing the event.

A helicopter circled, high in the sky. A police chopper? Or it could be a TV news helicopter, they use helicopters too. Otherwise, no police in sight, I hadn’t been any all evening. Where were the police?

Finally I entered the 19th street BART station and sat down to wait for a train. From in here, deep in the subway, I could hear nothing of what was going on and I felt as though separate from the world of the streets above. It was so quiet down here. Not more than 20 minutes had passed when the BART speaker system broke the silence, announcing that the plaza station was now open.

“Open?” I scratched in my notebook “What does that mean? What happened?”

I thought it could only mean that the police had driven people away from the plaza. But so quickly? And how? Could the police have appeared out of nowhere, formed up, attacked, and driven people out within the short space of 20 minutes? It didn’t seem possible, but what other explanation could there be? I could only hope that people were safe.

My train finally came, and I rode home, getting off in North Berkeley. I was climbing the steps towards the exit, and there I somehow missed a step, fell forward and heard a sharp crack. Pain shot through my left shoulder. My left arm didn’t work Everything seemed to hurt.

After a bit I managed to stand up, retrieve my pack with my right hand, and made my way home, which was only 2 blocks away. Apparently I’d sprained my arm and shoulder and would be better in the morning. But the next day I was no better, so my friend Virginia insisted on taking me to get it X-rayed. The X-ray revealed a fracture of the humerus bone, the main bone of the upper arm just an inch or so below the shoulder joint.

One of the medical staff had also been at the Oakland demonstration, and he told me what had happened. That is, nothing happened — exactly as Gerald had predicted. Oakland city officials had not enforced the curfew, and BART had opened up the plaza station.

And we learned that the other three police involved in the murder of George Floyd had now also been arrested and charged.

This protest in Oakland was of course only one of the many, many that have been going on across the country. A victory, yes! Certainly! But we still have a long way to go, a long struggle ahead.

As for my arm, yes it’s painful, but not much compared to what so many others have suffered. It’s healing and in the meantime I’ve learned to type with one hand.

  • Steve Gilmartin contributed to this article.
  • “Don’t boo, vote.”

    These, the derisive words of then-President Obama to an unruly crowd at a campaign stop for Hillary Clinton in 2016. They would become, in the years that followed, a calling card for Democratic operatives, printed on stickers and hats and coffee mugs, taken up as organizational slogan and event title. They are words which would become particularly relevant after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers and subsequent protests which erupted in the Twin Cities and across the country and world. As people poured into the streets, Democrats like 71-year-old white millionaire Senator Ron Wyden, insisted, don’t protest, vote!

    Of course, when Democratic politicians like Obama and Wyden say ‘vote,’ they don’t simply mean ‘participate in the electoral process.’ They mean, vote for Democrats.

    Perhaps nowhere in the country has this advice been taken to heart quite like the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis. The state is led by a Democratic Governor and has had a Democratic Attorney General, that is, a Democrat as its chief legal officer, since 1971. The Mayor of Minneapolis is a Democrat, and has been since 1978, while 12 out of 13 seats on the Minneapolis city council are held by Democrats (the final seat is held by the Green Party).

    Minnesota Nice’ may or may not involve booing, but it has certainly included voting for Democrats.

    The results of this approach are well documented. A 2015 study revealed Minnesota to have “some of the worst racial disparities in the country,” gaps larger than most or all other states in education, employment, household income, home ownership, and poverty. African Americans in Minneapolis are nearly five times more likely than their white counterparts to live in poverty, and nearly three times more likely to be unemployed. They are nearly ten times more likely to be arrested for low level offenses and 13 times as likely as white Minnesotans to be killed by police, a disturbing fact born out in the high-profile killings of Jamar Clark in 2015, Philando Castile in 2016, and now, George Floyd.

    It is telling to note that the state’s current Democratic Senator, and, perhaps until this week, the presumptive vice-presidential frontrunner to join Joe Biden atop the Democratic ticket, has been an integral part of the construction of the way Minneapolis functions today. From 1999-2007, Amy Klobuchar was the chief prosecutor for Hennepin County, encompassing the city of Minneapolis. During this period, Klobuchar declined to bring charges in over two dozen cases where people were killed by police, instead, focusing her attention on aggressively prosecuting low-level offenders, disproportionately people of color, for whom she sought longer-than-recommended sentences. Summed up by longtime Minneapolis community activist Michelle Gross, “she’s a racist who basically made our prisons the blackest place in this state.”

    As part of her agenda, Klobuchar declined in 2006 to bring charges against six Minneapolis police officers who had shot and killed a man. Among those let off the hook was an officer Derek Chauvin; the same Derek Chauvin who murdered George Floyd.

    Incredibly, over his 19-year career, Chauvin has been the recipient of no less than 17 official complaints, all closing without discipline, but for one letter of reprimand. In 2008, he was involved in an altercation during which he shot a man twice, though the man survived, and then again, in 2011, he was placed on a three-day leave of absence after a non-fatal shooting of an indigenous man. Many police officers say they never use their gun over the course of their entire career; Chauvin had been involved in three questionable shootings in five years. And yet still, in a city run by a Democratic Mayor, in a state overseen by a Democratic Attorney General, this dangerous individual was left to prowl the streets, until finally, he killed an innocent person.

    Perhaps here, a step back should be taken before things get too heated. Perhaps President Obama’s 2016 calls to vote rather than boo, echoed now by Democratic politicians in the face of an uprising, were more innocuous than they seem. The booing in question, that which precipitated Obama’s famous remark, was, in fact, in response to mention of Donald Trump. Most literally, Obama was saying, in his usually charismatic way, don’t boo Trump, vote for Hillary. It was a continuation of “when they go low, we go high,” the same unsubtle mandate as always – stay away from uncouth Republicans, a Democrat must be President!

    It goes without saying that Republicans are not the answer; unlike Democrats, they do not even pretend to be. When protesters took to the streets after the murder of George Floyd, they were called “thugs” by President Trump, that familiar racist dog whistle, consistently used to mute the anguished voices of the oppressed.

    A Democrat must be President. No one has followed this suggestion more doggedly than the good people of Minnesota. Literally, no one – they are the only state in the nation won by the Democratic candidate for President in each of the last 11 elections, the only state to go for Mondale over Reagan in 1984. And yet, their current plight, like that of the rest of the country, has grown under Presidents Democrat and Republican.

    Consider, after the murder of Freddie Gray by police in 2015, then-President Obama called protesters in Baltimore exactly the same thing as President Trump called those in Minneapolis – “thugs.” While in the White House, the proprietor of ‘don’t boo, vote’ oversaw the continuing militarization of American police forces, and stood idly by while the jackboot of the state hammered down on the people of Ferguson and Standing Rock and elsewhere.

    In 2016, President Obama was insisting that we didn’t boo Trump, but rather vote for Hillary Clinton, a woman who, while championing arguably the most racist piece of legislation in the modern history of the country – the 1994 crime bill – called African American youth “superpredators,” a woman whose racism permeated her career up to and beyond when her campaign used racist literature against Obama in their 2008 Democratic primary. Now, President Obama insists that we should not boo, but vote for Joe Biden, a former segregationist who literally wrote the racist 1994 crime bill, a man who casually used racist remarks as recently as last week.

    In order to satiate the unheard, Obama suggests a vote for the architects of the current situation.

    There is a curious quote in a recent Politico article on the shocking levels of racial inequality in Minnesota:

    It seems illogical that inequality could thrive in one of the country’s most liberal states.

    Yes, it does seem illogical, but only for those still clinging to the fantasy that Democrats are somehow the opposite of Republicans. The state of Minnesota, to say nothing of the careers of people like Obama, Biden, Clinton and Klobuchar, has quite clearly shown that this is simply not the case.

    If a vote for either party delivers the same results, then ‘vote’ is removed as an option for the oppressed to have their voices heard.

    That leaves ‘boo.’

    As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Over 50 years later, a younger generation might say, “fuck around and find out.”