Filed under: Editorials, Featured, The State, US, White Supremacy
The following editorial looks at the recent revolt in Minneapolis in the context of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the overall social war in the so-called US.
Endlessly, we hear “why are they looting and burning their own community?” As if by geographic proximity, the Targets and Autozones and McDonalds and even the sacred small businesses have ever belonged to the workers and poor who now light them ablaze. At a time where historic unemployment and disparity meets skyrocketing corporate profits and the advent of the first ‘trillionaire,’ we hear the scolds and defenders of the present order mobilizing to shame those who are reclaiming their time, their labor and their lives. They remind us that there is a ‘correct’ way of doing things, that there are channels and representatives we must go through to seek justice. Meanwhile, the stores are burning, people are pushing police into retreat, and dancing in the streets.
Anyone complaining about looting after US corporations just walked off with trillions unaccountably and called it a “bailout” doesn’t need to be taken seriously.
— William C. (@williamcson) May 28, 2020
George Floyd’s life was stolen by the Minneapolis Police Department. Another name on a long list of black lives that have been cut short by police violence. Oscar Grant, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Marcus David Peters, Breonna Taylor…every city has its list. Yet it keeps happening. The script runs on repeat every time, wearing people down, retraumatizing families and communities, and ultimately leaving the institutions and police forces who perpetuate it in place – with minor reforms, at best. As happened in Ferguson, Baltimore, Charlotte in others, this time people decided to flip the script.
Black lives are more important than Target stores. We stand in solidarity with Minneapolis workers against police terrorism pic.twitter.com/WzBVhR3sv2
— Target Workers Unite (@TGTWorkersUnite) May 28, 2020
We see the images, of police cars burned and smashed, lines of riot cops, tear gas, shaky livestreams, people bleeding from injuries by police munitions, a spectacle that is at once horrific and terrifying, heartbreaking, outrageous, but also there’s a glimmer of something else. Despite the mournfulness of much of it, we see enormous grins of people’s face as they watch each other do things they never thought they could do. The path their lives are tethered to everyday is disrupted and spaces emerge from which they can truly do anything.
The police scanners cry out “we need backup,” “we’re running out of [tear] gas,” “we’re falling back,” “we’ve lost control.” The agents of order, who we assume to be invincible and omnipotent, are in retreat. Whether consciously or not, the imaginary lines of laws and the state are erased, and property relations break down. Every thing for every one. Reality is stripped down to its barest form and the line is clear: it’s everyone versus the cops, the owners, the directors and leaders. Looting becomes reclamation of our lives and time, and a burning building becomes a bonfire.
For those who think Target is innocent you can review the old WaPo article highlighting the corporation's efforts to increase survelliance and policing of Black and other workers of color across US cities. pic.twitter.com/ih3jmViZcA
— Target Workers Unite (@TGTWorkersUnite) May 28, 2020
At a time where unemployment may very well climb up to and beyond 25%, many of our friends are now fearing how they’ll make rent or buy groceries or keep the lights on. The bills and packages passed by the ruling parties’ are talked up like they’re a life raft, when the reality is that they are nothing but a shot in the arm for the ownership-class and the landlords. Now they’re calling upon us to go back to work, to get paid ~$10/hr to play Russian roulette with a pandemic that’s claimed 100,000 souls alone in this country. They tell us we should be grateful for the scraps they’ve thrown us, playing up the generosity of $1,200 checks and irregular unemployment insurance payments. But one needs only to look at the fine print to see that what was given to the poor and working-class of this country is a fraction of the bailouts and payments made to keep the stock market lines going up and the corporations that dominate our lives comfortable. We can barely sleep worrying about being evicted, while Jeff Bezos is becoming the world’s first trillionaire.
And they expect us to feel indignant about a looted Target.
To all who realize their historical agency whether it’s through a stone thrown at a police officer’s head, a 65” TV carried out the front door, or graffiti spread across a precinct, you give us all hope that things don’t have to be this way. Even as they frantically phone in the national guard, what you’ve done is light a path forward. The order of things is crushing us. Our jobs are disappearing, they’re paying us shit for throwing our lives into a charnel house, they’re murdering the unruly in the streets and stealing the lives of black people on camera for all the world to see. This is a world we must refuse because it never gave a damn thing for us. This is a world we must destroy.
The new world struggles to be born, trying to tear its way through time and space into our present moment.
We remember Marcus David Peters.
And we remember George Floyd.
From Richmond to Minneapolis, fuck the police!