“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.

Egypt: The revolution is far from over…

CAIRO – While Egypt’s new cabinet ministers are promising to meet the demands of the revolution and save the country from disorder and economic collapse, the opposition wants the new cabinet dismissed immediately.

Meanwhile, thousands of workers throughout Egypt continue their strike for higher wages and the ouster of corrupt management.

Fears are also rising that there will be a backlash from supporters of ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, and of the use of provocateurs to stop the democratic momentum.
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Anti-Government Demonstrators Killed in Libyan Clash

By Salah Nasrawi, Associated Press

CAIRO – Libyan protesters seeking to oust longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi defied a crackdown and took to the streets in four cities Thursday on what activists have dubbed a “day of rage,” amid reports at least 20 demonstrators have been killed in clashes with pro-government groups.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said Libyan internal security forces also have arrested at least 14 people. Hundreds of pro-government demonstrators also rallied in the capital, Tripoli, blocking traffic in some areas, witnesses said.

An opposition website and an anti-Gadhafi activist said unrest broke out during marches in four Libyan cities Thursday. Organizers were using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to call for nationwide demonstrations.

“Today the Libyans broke the barrier or fear, it is a new dawn,” said Faiz Jibril, an opposition leader in exile.

Opposition website Libya Al-Youm said four protesters were slain by snipers from the Internal Security Forces in the eastern city of Beyida, which had protests Wednesday and Thursday. It’s not clear when the protesters were killed. The website also said there was a demonstration Thursday in Benghazi, Libya’s second-Largest city, and that security forces had shot and killed six people with live ammunition.

Switzerland-based Libyan activist Fathi al-Warfali said 11 protesters were killed in Beyida on Wednesday night, and scores were wounded. He said the government dispatched army commandos to quell the uprising.
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Egyptian military tortured, “disappeared” thousands of demonstrators

From LibCom.org:

Now that the wave of riots, demonstrations and strikes has toppled Mubarak and the military has taken over, this report examines the supposedly “neutral” role of the military so far.

Since demonstrations and strikes erupted against the Mubarak regime on January 25, the Egyptian military has arrested, tortured and “disappeared” thousands, according to reports from the Guardian newspaper and human rights organizations.

The revelations explode the claim advanced by the Obama administration that Egypt’s army is a neutral arbiter in the crisis and can lead a “transition” to human rights and democracy. They also give the lie to the claim that the military can be relied upon to protect the population from the hated state security forces, an argument advanced by both Mohammed ElBaradei and the Muslim Brotherhood. The military has, in fact, assumed the brutal role of the police and security forces, which have, at least in part, dissolved in the face of the revolution.

According to Human Rights Watch, at least 302 Egyptians have been killed in the protests, the vast majority of these at the hands of the security forces, pro-government thugs and the military. Heba Morayef, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Cairo who participated in the count, said that the ultimate number will likely be far higher.

The number of the disappeared—those arrested by the military with no record or official acknowledgement of their fate—runs into the hundreds, possibly thousands, Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in Cairo, told the Guardian. Their “crimes” include carrying political leaflets, attending demonstrations, “or even the way they look,” the newspaper reports.
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Egypt “Frees Political Prisoners”

From Al Jazeera…

“The Egyptian government is reported to have freed 34 political prisoners, including some members of the Muslim Brotherhood, in a move seen to be part of promised reforms aimed at ending anti-government protests.

According to Al Jazeera sources, more than a thousand other prisoners were released on Wednesday after completing at least three-quarters of their sentences. And another 840 priosoners were released from the Sinai province.

“Interior Minister Mahmoud Wagdy issued an order today releasing 34 political detainees considered to be among the extremist elements, after evaluating their positions,” the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) said on Tuesday.

“They showed good intentions and expressed their desire to live peaceably with society.”

The report added they had handed themselves over to the authorities after escaping from prison during several days of disorder last month.

Security forces were withdrawn from the streets after failing to crush millions of protesters on January 28. Security then broke down at many prisons around the country.

During the 1990s, Egypt battled Islamist fighters who wanted to replace the government of Hosni Mubarak, the president, with an Islamic state.

Political detainees

Many fighters remain in jail from the time of Mubarak’s predecessor Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated by soldiers linked to an Islamist group in 1981.

According to human rights groups, it is not clear how many people are detained in Egypt for political activities, such as joining banned groups or planning or carrying out acts of violence, but they estimate them to be in thousands.

Mubarak has offered other concessions in an attempt to end ongoing protests around the country, which included the appointment of a vice-president and a new cabinet.

Political reforms have also been pledged and the government said this would include freeing detainees and lifting emergency laws.”


Egypt: After ordering military attacks against dissidents, Mubarak refuses to resign

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak refused on Saturday to bow to demands that he resign after ordering troops and tanks into cities in an attempt to quell an explosion of street protests against his 30-year rule.

Demonstrators were still out in the streets in the early hours of Saturday morning, as were looters. Parts of Cairo looked like a war zone, filled with smoke, rubble and the choking smell of tear gas.

Mubarak dismissed his government and called for national dialogue to avert chaos after a day of battles between police and protesters angry over poverty and autocratic rule. Medical sources said at least 24 people had been killed and over a thousand injured in clashes in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria.

“It is not by setting fire and by attacking private and public property that we achieve the aspirations of Egypt and its sons, but they will be achieved through dialogue, awareness and effort,” he said in a televised address, his first public appearance since the protests began four days ago.

The unprecedented unrest has sent shock waves through the Middle East, where other autocratic rulers may face challenges, and unsettled global financial markets on Friday. U.S. President Barack Obama said he had spoken with Mubarak and urged “concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people.”
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