Rest In Power Michael Marshall – The Latest Victim of Denver Police Violence

From Revolution News:

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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.

What does a community do in the absence of official channels to seek justice? What does a community do in the face of killers who operate with impunity—backed by the State? Killers who, to add insult to injury, pass on the monetary and emotional costs of their brutality to the very city they brutalize.

This is the challenge facing some communities in Denver, and many communities across the United States. But it’s a challenge they’ve faced before.

In 2010, Denver sheriff deputies pummeled, tasered, and beat Marvin Booker to death in the Denver jail. Why? Booker was a 50-something, Black, slender, unhoused, and beloved street preacher, who dealt with mental health challenges, and he didn’t want to give up his shoes.

Marvin Booker wasn’t a threat. He wasn’t violent. And he didn’t need to be separated from his shoes, which were one of his only possessions.

But in the milieu of discipline and punishment, control of bodies, and the breaking of human spirits, Denver sheriff deputies used such force to separate Booker from his shoes that he subsequently died.

Nobody was reprimanded. Nobody was held to account. If you spend time in Denver’s jail today you may be held under guard by some of the same people who murdered Marvin Booker.

Ultimately, it was Denver taxpayers who forked over some recompense as they had to cover the $6 million payout made to Booker’s family.

So goes the cycle of brutality, impunity, and taxpayer burden. And now it begins anew, with a strikingly similar case of brutality to the one that stole Marvin Booker’s life. Michael Marshall, a 50-year-old, Black, unhoused, slender man, who also described himself as a street preacher and dealt with mental health challenges, lost his life at the hands of Denver sheriff deputies trying to restrain him.

Why they were trying to restrain him isn’t entirely clear, but reporting from the Colorado Independent indicates that video footage shows Marshall posed no physical threat to the officers who killed him.

After over a week on life support following his beating at the hands of three deputies, Marshall passed away.

His killers remain unidentified and will likely receive little more than a paid vacation as a result of their actions. But one thing is for sure—the community of Denver will respond.

Following Booker’s killing hundreds of Denverites took to the streets in multiple protests. Marshall’s killing will likely prompt a similar response.

Indeed, concerned citizens already rallied for a press conference and a chance to mourn with family outside the jail in which Marshall was killed.

My question: Isn’t an even stronger response warranted?

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?

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Because something needs to change.

And in spite of recommendations from independent parties, and a newly appointed sheriff, the jail’s use of force policy remains the same. And now it has again led to the killing of a harmless Black man.

Michael Marshall’s killing happens at the intersections of oppression: Racism, classism, and ableism. A paranoid schizophrenic who may or may not have been able to recognize commands coming from sheriff deputies or police officers, Marshall was held on a bond of only $100 for an alleged minor offense.

If our inJustice System wasn’t racist, classist, and ableist, Michael Marshall would’ve never found himself trapped within the cold concrete halls of the Denver jail where he would be murdered.

If our inJustice System wasn’t structured around the control of bodies, using violence to instill docility, and compelling people to follow rules structured to protect elite interests through arbitrary discipline, Michael Marshall would still be alive.

If our inJustice System truly presumed the innocence of those forced through it, nobody would sit in jail over a $100 bond, and Michael Marshall would still be alive.

If our inJustice System was designed for the people who are most-often forced through it, then it would offer them services to improve their situations, not Tasers and violence, and Michael Marshall would still be alive.

It’s long past time for this to change. What will we do to make sure that happens?

Another world is possible, but it will only come if we fight for it. So, Denver, rise up. Fight for Marvin. Fight for Michael. Fight for all those who came before them, in the hope that fewer will come after.

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“If I Die in Police Custody, Burn Everything Down!”

Originally posted to IT’S GOING DOWN:

Across the US, in response to the outpouring of rebellion in the wake of a tidal wave of police murders, a handful of cops have been charged, several have been fired, and a few have simply quit. Those in power, from president Obama to the local police chiefs, rush to make cosmetic changes to an ever militarizing police force. They hurry to buy police body cameras while at the same time departments spend millions on decommissioned military vehicles and weapons to suppress future rebellions.

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They say the conversation on policing and race and America has changed, but the daily reality of American life continues to produce piles of dead bodies and millions of people incarcerated. Since Mike Brown’s murder by Ferguson police, over 1,100 people have been killed by law enforcement in the United States.

We aren’t in a crisis of policing – we’re in the middle of a war.

“That’s the Only Way Motherfuckers Like You Listen!”

At the same time, due to the ongoing rebellions in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Oakland, those in the “opposition,” from the unions, to Jackson and Sharpton, to the Nation of Islam, have all intensified their rhetoric. The commemoration for the ‘Million Man March’ is entitled, “Justice or Else!” The recent disruptions of the Presidential debates, from Sanders to Clinton to Bush all point to a growing anger at politics as usual and an acceptance of more radical action. But these protests also continue this idea that if “justice” is not served, there will be consequences. “If you don’t negotiate with us, we’ll set the rabble loose!,” say the activists and politicians in waiting.

But it hasn’t been the ‘leaders’ of the official Black Lives Matter group, the New Black Panthers, or any of the leftist parties that have pushed the current uprisings; the revolts has by and large been carried out by the people themselves and the youth in particular. In Baltimore, it was high-schoolers who trashed cop cars and threw stones at police, driving them out of the neighborhood. In Ferguson, it was the neighborhood of Canfield which fought back every night for weeks in the face of a military occupation. It was a collection of graffiti writers, youth of color, and anarchists who held the streets and blocked freeways in Oakland for close to a month.

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During these rebellions, the “official” organizations, whether the Democratic Party or the non-profits, were all trying to smoother the uprisings. Now, they hope to turn this energy into votes and new members. But while the official groups try to match their rhetoric to the actions of the people, all they have as leverage against those in power to make changes is the actions of the people they hope to drown out. “Listen to us and we will make sure there isn’t a riot,” they say. “Make these changes, put us in power, and there won’t be an uprising.”

But things must change, everything must change.

The riots were just the start, we must go much further.

“Rise the Fuck Up! Shut that Shit Down!”

Buildings have been burned, freeways have been blocked, and millions of dollars of property and police equipment has been destroyed. “But nothing has changed,” we hear people say over and over again. And they are right.

With each cycle of revolt, things only seem to get worse. The anti-war movement, the student movement, Occupy, and Black Lives Matter – all of these moments were largely based around the idea of exacting a cost on a system in order to push it to make structural changes. From blocked freeways, to burned buildings, to shaming hashtags, “Here, have a taste of our anger,” was our mindset.

But those in power became quite adapt at making changes – changes that didn’t amount to shit. Their rhetoric changed; they said words like, “the 99%” and “Black Lives Matter,” around election time. They put cameras on police, but in the end the cameras are still pointed at us. They took healthcare away from prisoners and diverted it into higher education. They passed laws upping the minimum wage to $15 in several years time; keeping us squarely locked in poverty. All the while, this society continues to break down and the ecological system continues to hurtle us towards apocalypse.

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The militant movements of the last several years have been failures because they have only sought to generate reforms from the present system, even if they didn’t make demands. We went into the streets knowing something was wrong, but in the back of our minds we hoped those in power would listen to us and make changes.

Those in the Left groups with their newspapers claimed we lacked a vanguard party to guide us. The unions claimed we lacked representation in the workplace. The churches and mosques said we lacked moral superiority in the face of state violence. The non-profits whined we had a poor outreach strategy.

The riots, blockades, occupations, and shut-downs failed because they didn’t go far enough.

Revolutions that go half-way, dig their own grave.

“If I die in police custody, don’t let my parents talk to…Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, or any of the motherfuckers who would destroy my name.”

Being a revolutionary in the present terrain means knowing that things aren’t going to get better; that currently there are no reforms that the system can grant that will get us out of the current crisis. Those in power will continue to offer only more repression, surveillance, incarceration, and policing to quell in rebellion, while also attempting to placate to popular anger by attempting to offer cosmetic changes or “expand the dialog.”

But what would a revolutionary strategy look like? What has already taken place in the streets that can show us a way forward? In the past several years, across the world, from Oakland to Egypt, we’ve seen the proliferation of various tactics and strategies – all responding to a historical moment of crisis that defines our era.

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We have seen the proliferation of occupations, whether in camps, squares, or buildings. These communal spaces serve as a vehicle to get organized from and meet the needs of the insurgents involved. We saw this in many Occupy camps, in Tahrir square, and in Ferguson around the burned QT building. All insurrections need bases of operations; they need space. But we have to push and expand this space, into schools and universities (such as in various occupations across Chile and Europe), in occupied union halls and workplaces (such as in Greece), and into public areas and whole regions (such as in Turkey at Gezi Park, throughout the Rojava Revolution in the autonomous region of Kurdistan, indigenous blockades of pipelines such as across Canada, and at the ZAD in France).

Autonomy is power.

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Beyond just being a place where people talk and make plans, these places need to expand the communal activity of people organizing themselves and meeting their needs directly. But such space will always need to be defended. Whether it is the streets of Ferguson from the police and the National Guard, or the occupied Egyptian squares, rioting has been the offensive capacity by which people have defended themselves from government forces and expanded their territories.

“Let them know, that my sisters got this!”

Rioting, in a defense and offensive capacity also allows people to attack the infrastructure of the enemy: namely the police, surveillance systems, and the like. However, beyond bank windows and burned patrol cars, the use of blockades has proven to be a very effective tactic in shutting down the flows of capital, stopping the construction of a project, and preventing the movement of state forces. We can see this most spectacularly in the indigenous struggles in Canada (such as the Mi’kmaq and Unist’ot’en), where Native groups are setting up encampments to stop the development of fracked oil pipelines.

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But these tactics by themselves are just that, tactics. Blockading a freeway against white supremacy might be the start of a longer revolutionary struggle or a way to gather our forces, but simply going onto a freeway and hoping that something will materialize (or worse yet, someone will listen,) is delusional thinking. If we want to build a revolutionary force capable of destroying this system of domination, white supremacy, and exploitation, then we have to think about tactics in terms of a strategy.

Thinking about a strategy means paying attention to the situation we are in both locally where we live, but also nationally and internationally. We have to think about how the Left and those that try and control social struggles will react and try and hinder our efforts. We have to think about how the state will try and repress us for attacking the social order.

But above all, we have to think about how our actions can grow, expand, become more powerful, and ultimately link up with others across the social terrain.

 

The above text has been condensed into a flyer which you can download below. Use the box to fill in a link to local projects. 

Whole page. Quarter sheet.

Remember the dead – Solidarity for the living by Brandon Baxter.

From Cleveland 4 Solidarity:

Originally published in Wildfire: Issue 2

Remember the dead – Solidarity for the living by Brandon Baxter.

Every day we spend in these cages is a day of our lives we will never get back. They are limited in the same way that there are only so many fingers on our hands; limbs on our bodies.

  • All the cherished memories we will never have.
  • All the moments we won’t have to hold onto.
  • Each day, a piece of our lives, torn from us, like cutting off our fingers, one knuckle at a time.

The police once killed with impunity. Today they answer to the mob, The People’s Justice.

But the sad reality is that if Michael Brown were arrested and given a life sentence Ferguson would have never burned. He would have been mutilated, one day at a time. No one would have known his name, not even when he died in prison.

As of writing, the oppressed riot in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the police. The Left will, as always, attempt to recuperate this momentum. Indeed, I have read articles by these liberals defending looting as a legitimate form of protest.

…of protest…Is that all this is? Demanding reform; police accountability? Is this a problem to be solved by taxing the People hundreds of millions of dollars to put a body camera on every cop on the beat?

That’s the narrative we’re up against. And if the mob isn’t challenged to make a deeper analysis of the web of oppression it’s beginning to fight against, that is the reality we will face: more cops and an even more omnipresent surveillance state.

If Freddie Gray hadn’t died but were sitting in a holding tank, would there be any less reason for what’s taking place in Baltimore today?

  • We must remember the dead. But the living are dying.
  • Every day.
  • Let’s try being a little less reactionary (it makes us predictable, taking away the advantages of spontaneity).

Let us channel this righteous fury into concise decisive strategy in our fight for the living.