From IT’S GOING DOWN:
Minneapolis now joins the list of US cities such as Oakland, Ferguson, and Baltimore to break out into open revolt in the wake of the horrific police murder of an unarmed African-American man; Jamar Clark.
As the reports that have come into IGD have stated, people out in the streets of Minneapolis over the last several days have launched a struggle that has erupted after police officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze murdered 24 year-old Clark. In a scene reminiscent of the execution of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California, witnesses report that Clark who was unarmed, was handcuffed when police shot him in the back of the head. Autopsy reports seem to corroborate these eye-witness accounts.
As of Sunday, the protests outside the precinct have now lasted a week and other demonstrations have blocked freeways, occupied a small area in the police building, and when evicted, led to small scale rioting outside of the police station that the crowd was surrounding. Despite cries for calm from activist groups and Clark’s family and the launching of a civil-rights investigation into Clark’s murder, unrest still broke out as police fired a variety of “non-lethal” weapons into the crowd. Also, as in Olympia, it appears that white supremacists attempted to break up the protests with threats of violence.
In the wake of the attack, people fought back against police, destroyed their property and cameras, launched projectiles, wrote anti-police graffiti, rammed their cars into the gate, and threw molotov cocktails. After the fierce resistance, police tried to draw the age-old division between “peaceful protesters” and “outside anarchists.” As the author of the piece, They Can’t Shoot Us All discusses, the division between good and bad protesters only benefits those in power, be they activists or the government. The text comes out of the movement and the riots that erupted in Oakland in the wake of the police murder of Oscar Grant:
Demanding justice is not enough. The concept of justice for an individual doesn’t address the need to dismantle the system that murdered him. It doesn’t prevent any of us from being killed by the police. What is important now is not speaking in terms of justice, but attacking and weakening the institution of policing that continues to wage war against us.
The term “outside agitator” was popularized during the civil rights struggles of the 1950s, when southern politicians would blame the growing unrest in exploited black communities on the presence of (often white) radicals from outside of the city. Presently, it is a term used by Oakland politicians (and aspiring politicians) to try and keep the situation under control, to prevent local marginalized people from realizing the power they have. Today, we face enemies that we could have never conceived of before this…Sometimes, it’s the people that pretend to be on your side that are the most dangerous enemies. This micronationalism is an attempt to foster collaboration between disenfranchised people and their exploiters in a unified front against the enigmatic “outsiders.”
Such a script on the side of the police is now standard in many black uprisings that occur in the face of racist police terror. Police try and calm everyone down but more over, split those on the streets between “peaceful protesters” who are legally expressing themselves, and the “anarchists” who are “terrorists” that use “violence.” Such a line of thinking is so obviously an attempt to divide those in the streets against each other, largely along lines of race but as well as tactics, that we can assume that the FBI is helping to mold and shape the media campaign for the police in the wake of Jamar’s horrific and brutal slaying, just as they are for sure helping to surveil and monitor the protests.
An Occupy like encampment has sprung up outside of the police station with people holding ground, starting fires for warmth, and blocking streets in the largely residential neighborhood.
So-called “movement leaders” of Black Lives Matter and the NAACP have attempted to contain and control the situation. It’s also interesting to note that the protests have not stopped in the wake of the feds declaring that they will investigate the murder. However it remains to be seen what will happen if the video is finally released showing Clark’s final moments. Regardless, the occupation of the streets outside of the North Minneapolis precinct is inspiring and heartwarming in a country where police murder on average 3 people per day. Perhaps this tactic of shutting down and gathering outside of stations will spread to other cities, but only time will tell.
Meanwhile, in Oakland, the police killing of Richard Perkins, an African-American and the 5th person to be killed in the Town by police this year at a massive sideshow in East Oakland last weekend led to a high school walkout at Castlemont High and a ‘FTP’ march this past Friday. These actions are a big deal and point to indignation at police terror and white supremacy spreading out to East Oakland, which police have largely sought to contain and keep from exploding.
Actions also continued in earnest in Denver, where marches and demonstrations didn’t let up against the police murder of Paul Castaway, a Native man, and now the in-custody killing of Michael Marshall, an African-American at the local jail. According to Revolution News:
The Denver Sheriff Department has murdered again. Michael Marshall passed away as a result of injuries sustained at the hands of Denver sheriff deputies around 6:30pm on November 20, 2015, after over a week on life support. At what point does Denver rise up as we’ve seen Baltimore, Ferguson, and other cities in the face of routine police violence? And who will throw the first brick, stone, or Molotov cocktail?
With all of these cities, Oakland, Minneapolis, Denver, and sadly so many more, many questions are presented to revolutionaries. How do we do deal with slander against those of us that are bringing revolutionary ideas and also militant tactics to the table? How do we counter not only the lies of the police, the FBI, and of the “official” activist organizations? Firstly, we must seek to put out counter-information about what is happening on the ground. This means writing about what is occurring and getting out a counter-analysis to a mass audience, through posters, stickers, zines, blog posts, and graffiti. It also means spreading counter-ideas about what it means to resist. It means challenging concepts of non-violence, it’s role in social change, and also about why people would want to fight the police both physically in a collective or individual manner.
But these things can’t just happen in the context of the internet, on facebook, or just hoping that someone is going to come to your next film showing or talk, it has to happen in the moments where people feel like revolt is possible. It has to happen in the streets, at marches, in meetings, at demonstrations, and at occupations. This is the time when people’s minds are open to taking more militant action and it is also the time in which the “official activists” will attempt to limit the role of people acting on their own accord against the State. We have to be there in these moments, being not only honorable, steadfast, and resolute people, but also those that are comfortable articulating our ideas to others in struggle.
Next, how do we create and keep relationships with people, or at least begin a dialog with others when the intense moments have died down and some feel like they are getting burned out. Throwing block parties, bbqs, festivals, graffiti/art events, concerts, and more outside and in the communities that have been struggling can play an important role in bringing people together by sharing food, making friends, as well as creating a fun and social environment for people to gather. These events are also opportunities to invite a variety of people from different struggles, families, and groups to discuss things that are happening in different neighborhoods, as well as pull people into the organizing.
We also have to get ready for repression. We need to normalize the idea that we will receive potential visits from the FBI. Think about what you will do if they come to your house, your relatives home, or your work. What will you say? Consider getting a lawyer lined up and having a support group in place. We also have to have a network in place that can support those that will be arrested at these militant actions, often young people that have never been arrested at political events before. Looking at the work done by the Anti-Repression Committee that grew out of Occupy Oakland and gained lessons from supporting community members who were arrested during the Oscar Grants riots would be a good place to start. But more over, we have to have money, lawyers, and court support ready when we go into struggle. Repression will happen, so lets get ready for it and not let it catch us off guard.
Lastly, and the most difficult, we have to think about how to take these moments further, to push them to the point of no return. To help them spread out across different workplaces, neighborhoods, towns, and schools. This isn’t easy. This system pits us against each other based on race, class, sexuality, age, work status, and so on. It’s going to take real actual networks of people fighting, struggling, and learning from each other to push through to the next level.
We’re going to leave it at that this week at IGD. We’d like thank everyone that submitted articles to us. We’ve updated the guidelines for posting which you can view here. Next week we’ll be back to our usual roundup, as well as new columns such as Bloc Party and our brand new Trumpism. We’re also very excited about something new that we’re about to drop, so stay tuned right here at IGD.
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