If you're not organizing, now is a good time to start.
— ѕyndιcalιѕт (@syndicalisms) July 8, 2016
Holy shit. It’s been a hell of a couple weeks since this column came out. In the last two weeks, we first saw violent clashes with fascists and white nationalists which rocked the west coast and shut down an attempted rally by the Traditionalist Worker Party, and now we are seeing sustained activity against the police. Helping kick things off has been two extremely high-profile police shootings of African-American men that went viral in less than 24 hours. The first was that of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the second is that of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Despite these cases receiving the most press and outrage due to their videos being shared across the internet, in the week before and after both shootings (which occurred only a day apart from each other), 28 people were also killed by police in the short month of July. Currently, over 580 people have been killed by law enforcement officers in 2016, averaging over 3 people per day.
— WESH 2 News (@WESH) July 10, 2016
As news and anger over the shootings has spread, organic and self-organized protests, rebellions, freeway shutdowns, and violent confrontations with the police has also begun to grow, starting in Louisiana and then growing to cities in Minnesota, California, New York, Colorado, Alabama and everywhere else. It seems that the eruptions, riots, and blockades of the summer and fall of December 2014, following the Ferguson Insurrection and the wave of indignation and mobilization that spread after Darren Wilson was found not guilty as were the police that killed Eric Garner in New York, has not been forgotten. More people are joining the fight and the protests and demonstrations are continuing. Also, the rhythm and time between eruptions is growing less and less apart and there is a remembrance and building of confidence around disruptive tactics. Despite this positive aspect of the last week, still a sea of politicians lie in waiting ready to put a wet blanket on the fires of revolt.
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) June 14, 2016
This latest round of outrage is marked by the fact that the “Democratic Socialist” candidate, Bernie Sanders has now officially dropped out of the race and backed Hillary Clinton, leading to a massive backlash and disappointment with the entire political circus. It is a good thing that many people aren’t hoping for a candidate to represent them; we can only hope that instead we put faith and hope in ourselves to change our conditions and build revolutionary alternatives. Interestingly enough, with all of these events taking place so close to election time, this cycle of struggle hasn’t (yet) been sucked back into the political sphere or subsumed by the Democratic Party. Let’s help it to stay that way.
— Spectrum News Albany (@SPECNewsAlbany) July 11, 2016
Moreover, this round of demonstrations has taken place alongside a chorus of violent attacks on police (as well as widespread vandalism) which have occurred throughout the United States, including a deadly shooting by a former military man in Dallas, Texas. Despite the media and police waging a counter-insurgency campaign against the Black Lives Matter movement (which is overall an attack on anyone that acts or is critical of white supremacy and the police in the US), this wave of action shows no sign of slowing down. In short, in-spite of the media and everyone in power telling people its time to go home, people aren’t listening.
At the same time, we’re also seeing more and more far-Right groups coming out to the demonstrations in an attempt to support the police: ranging from Neo-Nazis, armed Trump supporters, to militia types. Again, the “threat” of black insurgency is driving many of the Right to organize themselves to protect the established social order. The government in some instances is also using this moment to push back on some of the “gains” made by the BLM movement in the last two years; for instance in North Carolina police now do not have to share footage from their body cameras with the public.
Lastly, some Black Lives Matter groups continue to pull an anti-anarchist line, and use language such as “white outsiders” which parrots the statements of police as a way of breaking the fighting spirit of those involved in demonstrations, especially those that would use force to defend themselves. “Leaders” within the movement also continue to act as a means to destabilize any attempt to generalize the revolt. For instance in Atlanta, BLM protest leaders met with police and city officials and agreed to a “cooling off period,” in exchange for a public forum with the police on relations with the community. In short, “protest leaders” and police worked together against the protests, ending them before they continued to become even more disruptive. We need to think critically about this reality and push back against liberal and managerial elements which seek to defang resistance movements while at the same time building relationships with the base of those that make up these social struggles.
We also have to think about the fact that some within the Left are now talking about physically abolishing the police along with mass incarceration and prisons. While its great that these staples are now being taken seriously by some, we also have to remind people that this is only going to happen when people take control over territory, land, and communities in a revolutionary struggle with the established order. We can’t abolish the foot soldiers of white supremacy and capitalism while leaving this systems intact. Moreover, there has to be a conversation about what are we doing and why? Are we taking action as part of a revolutionary push to change the world and destroy a system of power, or are we simply trying to get the attention of the media, the police, or the government to create small changes?
In this moment, we think IGD plays a very critical role as a platform and a tool for a wide spectrum of people to share their analysis, discuss strategy, and offer report backs on where and how it is going down in their area. Please, if something is happening where you are, send us a report!
While this week’s column is very late due to so much going on, we’re going to attempt to round up everything that’s been happening across the US in the last week or so. If we miss something, let us know! Better yet, write something yourself and send it to us!
Pacific North West
Olympia: Protest and march blocks streets and an on-ramp. See report here. Small clashes with racist and far-Right motorists and later in the night, Neo-Nazis.
Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Olympia tonight. pic.twitter.com/kYOXDIIPZM
— Rachel La Corte (@RachelAPOly) July 8, 2016
Seattle: Over 1,000 rally, march, and protest.
— rhēa🌹 (@rhea_xcx) July 8, 2016
Portland: Mass march and protest. Armed Trump supporter filming the event pulls a gun out and is quickly arrested.
— Jake Thompson (@__27K) July 9, 2016
San Francisco: Mass rally, sit-in on Market Street. Blockades of freeway on-ramps later organized by youth.
— Joel Angel Juárez (@jajuarezphoto) July 10, 2016
Oakland: Large rally, march, protest outside of police station that leads to broken windows, large amounts of anti-police graffiti, and mass takeover of nearby highway 880. Ends in several arrests. Read report and view photos here.
Doors smashed at OPD building at 7th and Broadway. Paint thrown at building. pic.twitter.com/TbbGsFKrRo
— Don Clyde (@ClydeDon) July 8, 2016
Santa Cruz: Vigil and protest.
Watsonville: Vigil and protest.
San Jose: Protest and march. Anti-authoritarian presence very visible. Report and pictures here.
Sacramento: Youth organize protest at State Capitol in response to the police killing of Sacramento man at traffic stop as well as across the country. Protests continue across several days. White supremacists with “Pioneer Little Europe” facebook page show up and take pictures.
— Andrew Nixon (@CPR_Andrew) July 12, 2016
Fresno: Mass march takes the streets, ends in nearby Clovis. Protests continue across several days.
— ABC30 Fresno (@ABC30) July 10, 2016
Ontario: Youth march through a mall.
— Beatrix (@beatrixbautista) July 9, 2016
Bakersfield: Protest and march.
— The CSUB Runner (@csub_runner) July 10, 2016
Long Beach: Sign holding and protest.
Anaheim: Youth led protest.
Riverside: Over 100 march and protest.
About 100 Black Lives Matter protesters during their peaceful protest march in Riverside. pic.twitter.com/9E0I7ac3Sr
— PE Photo (@PE_Photo) July 11, 2016
Los Angeles: Mass marches, protests, and organizing meetings.
— Alberto Retana (@aretana) July 11, 2016
— #SuperLeft2017 (@prisonculture) July 11, 2016
Inglewood: Protest and rally.
— KTLA (@KTLA) July 11, 2016
San Diego: Small rally with sign holding.
Tucson: Protest and march.
— InUSANews.com (@inusanewscom) July 10, 2016
Las Vegas: Several hundred rally and protest. Three arrests.
Protest on Martin Luther King and Carey Avenue Las Vegas Nevada pic.twitter.com/8iRgDkdp26
— Peace Alliance (@nvPeaceAlliance) July 10, 2016
Salt Lake City: Rally and protest.
Albuquerque: Protest and rally.
Phoenix: Mass protest and march that ends in rioting and rock throwing at police. Members of the 3%er militia show up. Read report here.
— Catty Jargon (CJ) (@ChadawickJeremy) July 9, 2016
— Nohelani Graf (@NoheG) July 9, 2016
— Andrew (@ajrimmer22) July 9, 2016
Flagstaff, Arizona: Rally, march, and protest.
— Halie Chavez (@haliephoto) July 10, 2016
— Taylor Haynes (@THaynesWrites) July 11, 2016
San Antonio: Rally and protest. Later gunshots hit police department.
Corpus Christi: Protest.
Houston: Protests happen over several days throughout city.
Austin: Large protest and rally.
— InUSANews.com (@inusanewscom) July 7, 2016
Dallas: Hundreds protest, later a lone ex-military sniper begins shooting at police, killing several. Police then use a robot armed with a bomb to kill the shooter. Two great pieces of analysis have been written on the subject here and here.
— DMN Photo (@dallasnewsphoto) July 8, 2016
Carbondale: Series of rowdy street marches take place, leading to blocked streets and painted graffiti. Clashes with right-wing motorists. View report here.
Columbus: Protest and rally.
St. Louis: Protest.
Springfield: Protest and rally.
Oklahoma City: Mass march, protest.
Wichita: Street marches and stand-offs with police.
— Allembru (@allembru) July 13, 2016
Protest occurring in Wichita right now! BLACK LIVES MATTER. Glad to see my city standing up! pic.twitter.com/uIo21R7N3Y
— Jake (@jake_ramirez) July 13, 2016
Omaha: Large protest rally on city streets.
— ㅤAlex Melcher (@OmahaKid95) July 9, 2016
— amna (@HalalAmani) July 9, 2016
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) July 9, 2016
Kansas City: Protest and vigil.
Sioux Falls: Protest and rally.
Fargo: Protest and rally.
Cincinnati: Protest and rally.
Chicago: Mass marches and protests.
— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) July 4, 2016
— agitator in chief (@soit_goes) July 10, 2016
— agitator in chief (@soit_goes) July 12, 2016
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) July 12, 2016
Detroit: Protest and march.
— KE TV (@KalinBuggs) July 9, 2016
Denver: March and protest.
— elisabeth epps• (@elisabeth) July 8, 2016
Fort Collins: Protest.
Falcon Heights: Ongoing protest as it is the site of Philando Castile’s murder.
St. Paul: After murder of Castile, protest moves outside of Governor’s mansion where an occupation beings that lasts several days. Clashes with police, highway blockades, and attacks on police cars follow. Noise demonstration takes place outside of jail for those arrested. Black Lives Matter protest bureaucrats attempt to split crowd with talk of “white anarchists” and “outside agitators,” which has been used by the police in the revolt that followed the police killing of Jamar Clark.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 8, 2016
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 8, 2016
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 9, 2016
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 9, 2016
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 10, 2016
Hundreds of protesters were arrested across the country and 21 cops injured in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Saturday… https://t.co/JWT30NmIAE
— Political Fail Blog (@PFailBlog) July 10, 2016
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 11, 2016
5am: Cmty continues to take space in front of Gov Dayton mansion after city workers dismantle camp & police arrest 2 pic.twitter.com/m7ZtvAjA5r
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 12, 2016
Minneapolis: Freeway blockades and protests.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 13, 2016
Milwaukee: Mass protests and marches. At night, over 100 people also attacked police with bricks.
— Joseph Brusky (@JosephBrusky) July 12, 2016
Grand Rapids: Protest.
Green Bay: Protest.
Bloomington: Protest and march.
— North Star Post (@NStarPost) July 10, 2016
Indianapolis: Rally and protest.
Louisville: Rally and protest.
Orlando: Protest and rally.
Jacksonville: Protest and rally.
Augusta: Hundreds protest.
Brunswick: Protest and march.
Knoxville: Protest and march.
— knoxnews (@knoxnews) July 11, 2016
— Knox County Dems (@KnoxDems) July 9, 2016
Charlotte: Protest and rally.
Durham: Rally and vigil.
Washington DC: Rally, protest, and march.
Savannah: Protest and march.
Macon: Protest and vigil.
Tampa: Protest and blocking of streets.
BREAKING: Several hundred people are attending a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Tampa. Intersection closed. pic.twitter.com/aXNzPL3H8r
— Bay News 9 (@BN9) July 11, 2016
Miami: Protest and march.
— XXL Magazine (@XXL) July 10, 2016
Tallahassee: Youth led protest and march. Blocking of streets.
— Francisco Cabrera F. (@DirectedByFran) July 13, 2016
Panama City: Protest.
Tennessee: Mass march.
— WKRN (@WKRN) July 9, 2016
New Orleans: Rally and protest.
— MissKeith Prevost (@VoteMisskeith) July 9, 2016
— Catherine Rodríguez (@latinadramaturg) July 9, 2016
Birmingham: Youth led march and protest.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) July 9, 2016
Baton Rouge: Epicenter of revolt as it is the site of where Alton Sterling was killed. Sets off a round of rowdy self-organized protests and clashes with the police. Spreads over several days. Police place a lot of importance in shutting it down, using military gear to smash protests; akin to response in Ferguson.
— Anarcho Anon (@AnarchoAnon) July 6, 2016
— Silky Slim®📣 (@silkyslim100) July 6, 2016
— Silky Slim®📣 (@silkyslim100) July 6, 2016
Just days ago, #AltonSterling was shot & killed by police officers in #BatonRouge. The murder was captured on video, which is unfortunately seems necessary to spark major outrage—which it did. Hundreds gathered in the streets last night, some even shot off fireworks. The police were said to have stayed away, likely knowing their presence would give people's anger a target and the protest could escalate to a riot. #FTP #ACAB
— RTV6 Indianapolis (@rtv6) July 8, 2016
Police SWAT in Baton Rouge move in on protesters, make arrests. pic.twitter.com/gzrSCidWqr
— Claire Taylor (@ClaireTaylorTDA) July 10, 2016
Police now advancing on crowd pic.twitter.com/tUO7pPRhbS
— Terry L Jones (@tjonesreporter) July 10, 2016
Atlanta: Mass protests and freeway blockades occur over several days, with government even threatening to send in the National Guard to restore order. Protest managers attempt to contain and pacify crowds; negate disruptive elements. Read reports here and here.
— antonio (@antoniodelotero) July 9, 2016
— nojustice|nopeace (@carm_x) July 8, 2016
— AllOutATL (@AllOutAtlanta) July 8, 2016
— Adam Levandoski (@AdamLevandoski) July 8, 2016
— RoundTable Ent. ⚔️ (@RoundTableRT) July 8, 2016
— Pull Up TJ 👔💯 (@TJay1k) July 9, 2016
— Regina Tweeta (@regina_tweeta) July 11, 2016
Pittsburgh: Rally and protest.
Baltimore: Mass marches.
— Benjamin YoungSavage (@benjancewicz) July 9, 2016
Buffalo: Rally and protest.
Burlington: Small protest and rally.
— isaiah hines (@isaiahhines_) July 10, 2016
Philadelphia: Mass marches and protest.
— Matt Baumann (@Matt_bau) July 9, 2016
New Jersey: Protest and street march.
New York: Continuous rowdy street marches.
— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) July 8, 2016
— Millions March NYC (@MillionsMarch) July 8, 2016
— Millions March NYC (@MillionsMarch) July 8, 2016
— Tardigrade CERN (@StopMotionsolo) July 9, 2016
Rochester: Rowdy protests and massive arrests from police.
74 people arrested for disorderly conduct during protest in Rochester, NY. pic.twitter.com/GoPygNNUlC
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 9, 2016
— ѕyndιcalιѕт (@syndicalisms) July 14, 2016
There is a lot of anger in this country directed at the police, a lot. Killing over 3 people per day over several years has created much resentment and anger. It is in this anger that there is possibility for not only questioning and attacking the role that the police serve in upholding this system, but the greater system behind them as well.
Protests, riots, attacks on police, protests, vandalism, free-way shut downs, and demonstrations took place all across the US this last week; in small places and in big ones, and more demonstrations are currently being planned. Looking at how they have played out so far, we can draw several conclusions about them and offer up a bit of analysis about where we can go in the future.
Moving and powerful graffiti tag #krogstreettunnel#art#black#lives#matter#movement#stand#tall pic.twitter.com/OUkmsgFMt2
— Jewel Bunch III (@BunchJewell) July 12, 2016
First, lets be clear that these events are a part of the black liberation struggle against white supremacy. While the media may paint it only as Black Lives Matter, this moment is a continuation of centuries of struggle against racial apartheid and slavery. What marks this period differently than other waves of black revolt (such as the inner city riots in the 1960s) is that more and more non-black people are joining in on the demonstrations and acting in solidarity with the black poor and working-class. We need to push these connections and continue to attempt to generalize these struggles across racial and geographic lines. Police killings are happening everywhere; in Native communities, in brown ones, against people with mental health issues, against the homeless, and in poor white neighborhoods.
Second, this wave of revolt is very youth led. We are seeing young people organize and hold demonstrations and protests for the first time. If this wave continues into the start of the school year, we should push for school walkouts and the occupation of schools. We have to reach out to these young people and give them confidence in what they are doing and the actions that they are taking, but moreover that they need to keep their actions autonomous, disruptive, and reject calls for respectability politics and “non-violence.”
— The Daily Texan (@thedailytexan) July 7, 2016
Third, perhaps even more problematic than the rise of far-Right violence, is the push by many organizers and “protest leaders” to contain the energy and anger of the crowds. In some ways, many protests are almost called in an attempt to get people to go along with something pacified and docile than allow them to figure things out on their own. Make no mistake, coming up against their bureaucracy will be a struggle and it will not be easy.
It seems that in smaller towns, the big step was moving from simply holding signs to actually getting into the street and disrupting the flow of everyday life. From there, many people then moved to block a freeway or shut down a city if they were able to. While this move is logical, we also have to push beyond just being disruptive for the sake of gaining attention or trying to force the hand of the state. We have to think about taking things over and claiming territory and space. When self-organized activity did grow and show its power, such as the massive freeway shutdowns that took place in Atlanta and the Twin Cities over several days, they showed that more people came out to these events and they grew.
Anarchists and autonomous anti-capitalists need to start to have a dialog on why pacified and policed demonstrations are a waste of time. We have to be able to draw these lines and pull people with us. We need to push for self-organized demonstrations that are disruptive and powerful, and we also need to push away from trying to make a spectacle to gain media attention or force dialog with a police chief or elected officials. This is a dead end and always has been. Instead, we need to push for taking space in communities that are most impacted by police terror and starting to build up counter power against the police that also allows us to create alternatives to the state system.
To do this we need to take space. In St. Paul, much as in the occupation outside of the 4th Precinct in Minneapolis, the ability to hold a space (this time outside of the Governor’s Mansion) was crucial. However, in these instances, the spaces taken were always outside of some place of power: politician’s mansion, police station, or city hall. Thus, these actions by and large are spectacle; instead we need to take space in places where we have power. In our neighborhoods, where we go to school, and where we work.
We also have to generalize this struggle. While the Black Lives Matter movement has been a vehicle to discuss white supremacy and colonialism within the Americas, we also have to recognize that we need to pull poor and white working class people into the struggle against the police as well. Currently, out of 585 people killed in the year 2016, almost half, 291, have been white. While brown, black, and native people are statistically much more likely to be killed by law enforcement than whites, at the same time that’s still a whole lot of (largely broke) white people being killed by the cops. We have to make the argument that the struggle against the police is a struggle that white people need to fight; to only in solidarity with those fighting against white supremacy, but also against the police that are shooting and killing them as well.
But moreover, the events over the last week show us that we have to be organized and we have to be ready to call for demonstrations and actions. We have to have connections with people and we have to have a street presence. We also must be prepared for far-Right violence as well as attempts by liberal protest leaders, no matter how fiery their rhetoric, to shut us down and work with the police to attack us.
We also all should be trying to go to protests and demonstrations that are happening even if they aren’t organized by us or by people that don’t share our politics. Set up information tables and pass out flyers. Set aside nights to go wheatepasting and put up banners with revolutionary messages. Write graffiti and political slogans in public areas. All of these things help to build a revolutionary culture of action and normalize our ideas to the wider public.
Let us use this time to grow and build but also to understand our shortcomings and lack of capacity when it is in front of us. Why are we weak and why and how can we grow to be strong? There is no better time to hit the pavement than now.