“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.

if-i-die

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.

if-i-die(2)

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.

if-i-die(3)

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.

if-i-die(4)

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.

if-i-die(5)

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.

if-i-die(6)

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.

BREAKING: “Doors Stormed” Ferguson Protesters have Occupied the STL Police Department

thefreethoughtproject.com:

“We are informing you that the police department is scheduled to be reclaimed by its citizens today”
ferguson-news
Ferguson, MO — Protesters have occupied the police station in St Louis demanding that the “occupiers of the St. Louis Police Metropolitan Police Department….be removed from power.

Watch here: https://vine.co/v/OwIujDplBrr/embed/simple

According to the post on the facebook page for We Copwatch, the occupation began this morning.

Ferguson comrades have occupied the STL Police Dept as of right now!!
Spread the word!
Their press release:
“Eviction Day!!!
Media Contacts
Jonathon Pulphus (314) 489-3879
Elizabeth Vega (314) 488-4849
Rasheen Aldridge (314) 517-6142
Dhruba Shakur (816) 591-2900

We have received a cry for help, that as mothers, grandmothers, fathers, grandfathers, brothers and sisters we can NO LONGER IGNORE.

Last Words from Stlfilmmaker on Vimeo.

In response to this dispatch, we intend to evict injustice and blight, by occupying St. Louis Police headquarters on December 31st, 2014, at 11am. The decision to reclaim our police department is the result of willful neglect and violence on behalf of the department toward the community, which they are bound, by oath, to protect and serve. Violations include: Committing crimes against humanity, by ending the life of men, women, and children, and then labeling these executions as “justified” without regard for your humanity, and without thorough investigation. Hiring officers, who are unfit to wear a badge, like Randy Hayes, a known animal torturer, and Jason Flannery, who publicly declared he wanted to “shoot Muslims.” Both these men shot and killed two members of our community and have not been held accountable for these egregious actions, but rather have been protected behind a blue shield. Despite thousands marching in the streets; despite our community having to sue our own police department to stop the use of tear gas and rubber bullets; despite urgent demands for broad and substantive reforms, our cries have been ignored. For all these reasons, we intend to occupy St. Louis Police Headquarters as part of our New Year’s resolution to take back our Justice System, and in doing so reclaiming the promise of our future.

Below is a copy of the eviction notice give to Chief Sam Dotson.

ferguson-news2

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Message from Jalil Muntaqim

Statement: From Ferguson to New York to Palestine, Solidarity with the Resistance to Racist Oppression

From: Samidoun
hamde-700x357
“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them…Prisons are a profitable business. They are a way of legally perpetuating slavery. In every state more and more prisons are being built and even more are on the drawing board. Who are they for? They certainly aren’t planning to put white people in them. Prisons are part of this government’s genocidal war against Black and Third World people.”

– Assata Shakur

“I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy – all we’ve seen is hypocrisy. When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism. We see America through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We don’t see any American dream. We’ve experienced only the American nightmare.”
– Malcolm X

“This trial cannot be separated from the process of the historical struggle in Palestine that continues today between the Zionist Movement and the Palestinian people, a struggle that centers on Palestinian land, history, civilization, culture and identity…As for your judicial apparatus, which is where this court comes from: it is one of the instruments of the occupation whose function is to give the cover of legal legitimacy to the crimes of the occupation, in addition to consecrating its systems and allowing the imposition of these systems on our people through force.”
– Ahmad Sa’adat

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes the resistance led by the Black movement that has taken the streets of every major city and town in the United States in defense of Black lives and in resistance to state-sponsored police killing, targeting and profiling of Black people and of other oppressed communities. These protests, led by strong and militant Black youth and their comrades, have occupied highways, roads and bridges, disrupted “business as usual,” and are true sparks of Intifada against a racist system of exploitation and oppression.protest-300x181 “I can’t breathe.” “Hands up, don’t shoot.” “Black Lives Matter.” The slogans, in their clarity, are an assertion of existence and resistance in the face of a racist system that has been built for centuries on the devaluing, dismissal and suppression of Black rights, existence and struggle.

The grand jury verdicts declining to bring murder charges against the police who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York; John Crawford in Cleveland, Illinois; and the acquittal or refusal to bring charges against countless other police who have acted with the full authority of the state to terrorize Black communities are not mere flaws in the system. Rather, they reflect the racist and oppressive nature of the legal system of the United States.

The United States, the world’s leading imperialist power, is responsible for occupation, exploitation and oppression around the world. The U.S. government was created through the dispossession and genocide of indigenous people and the country built upon the backs of Black people forced into slavery. Today, the United States government is the strategic partner and strongest ally of the occupation of Palestine, while the Israeli state trains U.S. police in repressive counter-insurgency tactics tested on Palestinians under occupation.
protestfp-300x200

The U.S. courts, police and prisons constitute a regime of mass incarceration that targets Black communities with systematic violence, disrupting and destroying communities. As documented by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, every 28 hours, a Black person is killed in the U.S. by state-sponsored or state-protected murderers, including police and vigilantes. The police – and their violent repression and impunity – and the prisons – and their mass incarceration – function alongside the courts, who give this racist structure the appearance of “legitimacy.” This legitimacy is exposed, as the killers of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford, and countless others walk free while entire communities are terrorized by arrests and constant police surveillance and oppression.

The grand jury system that protects the impunity of police murderers is the very same grand jury system that has been used to carry out widespread investigations, political repression and institutionalized harassment and suppression of the Black liberation movement, the American Indian Movement, Puerto Rican independentistas, anti-imperialist organizers and continues today to be used to investigate, surveil and harass Palestinian community organizers and movements and anti-war and international solidarity activists, as in the cases of Sami al-Arian, Mohammed Salah, Abdelhaleem Ashqar and the “Anti-War 23” in Chicago and Minneapolis.protestfp2-300x200

When Palestinian prisoners are brought before Israeli courts, whether military or civil, there is no justice to be found – the Israeli legal system is built on the dispossession of Palestinian land and the negation of Palestinian lives and existence. When occupation soldiers and settlers are acquitted or not charged with the killing of Palestinians, this is once again not unusual, but part of the system itself. The Israeli legal system is an apartheid system, part and parcel of the occupation, of the very system which the Palestinian movement struggles to overturn in order to liberate land and people.

There is no surprise to be found in the alliance between the settler colonial states of the U.S. and Israel, based fundamentally on racism and oppression. It is U.S. imperialism that enables and arms the occupation and colonization of Palestine, and the Palestinian movement struggles to confront both Zionist occupation and U.S. imperialism. There is, however, true inspiration and hope to be found in the powerful movements taking to the streets, and in the long legacy of the Black liberation movement.

Today, U.S. prisons – with the highest incarceration rate in the world- hold over 2.2 million people and over 900,000 Black people, including the political prisoners of the Black Liberation Movement and Mumia Abu-Jamal, as well as Puerto Rican political prisoners Oscar Lopez Rivera and Norberto Gonzalez Claudio, Leonard Peltier of the American Indian Movement, and Palestinian political prisoners – Rasmea Odeh, community leader, torture survivor from occupation interrogation and imprisonment, held in solitary confinement; and the Holy Land 5, serving terms of up to 65 years for fundraising for Palestinian charity organizations.

protest2-300x188Palestinians and friends of Palestine, from Students for Justice in Palestine, the US Palestinian Community Network, and numerous collectives and organizations have been joining the protests on the streets of New York, DC, Chicago, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, Cleveland, Ferguson, St. Louis and around the country. This is a promising step forward that recognizes the long-standing ties between Palestinian and Black communities and also moves to strengthen, solidify and build those ties in the struggle.

It is borne out of an imperative of justice that supports the Black movement’s struggle for liberation and recognizes its centrality, and it is also a recognition through common experience that “From Ferguson to Palestine, Occupation is a Crime.” These demonstrations contain within them the seeds of intifada and revolution, challenging the very nature of the racist imperialist system that is at the heart of repression from Ferguson and Black communities across the US to every Palestinian refugee camp, and building for the movement and action necessary to achieve Black Liberation and a liberated Palestine from the river to the sea.

Free All Political Prisoners, End Mass Incarceration, Abolish the Racist Prison System!

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network