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Jul 15, 20

Martinez, CA: Thousands Rally Following Racist Vandalism and Threats Against Black Lives Matter

Report back from mass Black Lives Matter rally in Martinez, California, where far-Right vigilantes, Trump supporters, and white nationalists have engaged in acts of vandalism and intimidation against local community members.

“Nonviolence refuses to recognize that it can only work for privileged people, who have a status protected by violence, as the perpetrators and beneficiaries of a violent hierarchy.”
― Peter Gelderloos, How Nonviolence Protects the State

A “BLACK LIVES MATTER” mural was defaced in the quaint East San Francisco Bay Area town of Martinez, CA on July 4th. White supremacist Nicole Anderson began spreading black paint all over the street, using a roller to “buff” the large “B” and “L” while her partner in (a literal hate) crime David Nelson filmed, and spouted anti-historical bullshit, filming the scene, antagonizing on-lookers. An actual Bay Area Native gets involved yelling, “You’re a fuckin’ colonizer! You wanna talk about freedom and liberty? Get those motherfuckin’ kids out of cages you fuckin’ hypocrite!,” before snatching the instantly empty 1-gallon paint can from the asphalt.

This incident garnered attention from mainstream media, including an appearance on heir to the Swanson TV dinner empire, Tucker Carlson’s show, where he commended their “bravery.”

Another incident followed where a man drove by the mural as it was being guarded by community members, shouting “All lives matter!” After a kid on a skateboard followed the car, the driver pulled a gun and threatened him. Oddly enough, local police detained this asshole without firing a single shot.

A “White Lives Matter” graffito was found on another street in Martinez, along with disturbing White Pride fliers found in downtown, highlighting the deeply-ingrained racism lurking just 30 miles from Oakland.

These racist outbursts from the Martinez community prompted a march in support of Black Lives Matter, and to show this small town that when a couple racists get brave, they will be met by thousands.

Local group ROAR (Revolutionary Organizing Against Racism) announced that white supremacists had threatened to attack the march, sparking a call for anti-racists and anti-fascists to join the “peaceful protest” to help keep marchers safe.

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Anti-fascist solidarity call: White nationalists have threatened to attack this march. In the last two weeks, right wing aggressors in downtown Martinez have vandalized a BLM mural, threatened protestors with a gun, and posted white supremacist fliers. Now police are trying to discourage this demo from happening and have told the organizers that they have received 27 different threats from white nationalist groups against the march so far. The police are stoking the fear mongering by telling local shops to board up their windows. We need comrades to come out ready to defend the march! This is a call for community self-defense. Downtown Martinez 725 Court Street 4-6pm Sunday 7/12

A post shared by revolutionary anti racism✨ (@roar_ara) on

At around 4PM on Sunday, July 12th, a crowd estimated to be over 1,000-2,000 gathered at the location of the now-fixed “BLACK LIVES MATTER” street mural. In the true spirit of the town, local resident Joey Howell explained how saying “All Lives Matter,” did not mean he was racist. After realizing the impossibility of this challenge, he put his tail between his legs, and eventually shut the fuck up.

Before the crowd began the completely legal, state-sanctioned “peaceful protest” down to the waterfront, a few speakers started. Any talk of systemic change, capitalism, or anything less palatable than police reform made all the rich white suburbanites clam up.

The march slowly began to pick up speed, and the same old, tired chants were echoing off the boarded-up shopfronts of dusty Martinez. The temperature had passed 90 degrees by then, but luckily there were street medics providing water to the protesters.

Sandy Sanchez stopped the march to tell the story of Anthony Nunez, murdered by the pigs of San Jose in 2016, when he had a mental health crisis in front of his house. People in the crowd yelled out “Tucan!” in remembrance of Sean Monterrosa who was recently slain by face-blind, serial user of excessive force Jarrett Tonn of the murder-squad some call Vallejo PD.

Once the crowd turned from Marina Vista onto Ferry Street, shouting: “Cops and Klan go hand-in-hand!,” we noticed about a dozen thumb-looking guys, only half of whom were wearing masks, which made them stand out from the “OVID-compliant” crowd of anti-police brutality activists. Some stragglers stayed back and began a shouting match, but when the majority of the march crossed the train tracks to the park, everyone left them to play pocket-pool and whisper sweet nothings into the ears of any of the cops bored enough to listen.

A “Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice” flag blew in the hot breeze next to one that read “Good Night White Pride.” Brown Berets kept a perimeter, keeping the crowd safe. The rich liberals were able to feel good about doing their mandatory 2 hours of activism for the week.

There’s something annoyingly-ironic about yelling, “If we don’t get no justice, they won’t get no peace!” while in a declared “peaceful protest.” The town went into a frenzy boarding-up practically every storefront after dead-horse rumors of antifa hordes circulated on social media. No windows were broken. Not one drop of paint was sprayed. The police provided the barricades, please make sure your trash finds it’s way to the appropriate receptacle.

Speaking from a flatbed truck poets, activists, and the father of Richmond Police murder-victim Pedie Perez all vocalized the need for systemic change to end racist policing, impunity for murderers, etc.

Protesting without rocking any of the foundations that uphold white supremacy, is just performative. We can not become content listening to RCP speakers, no matter how reverent their voices may sound.

In the era of the Coronavirus pandemic, gathering in groups of hundreds and thousands to show solidarity, is a risk that at least deserves some analysis. Compared to what can be accomplished by small organized bands, perhaps it is time to finally leave the mass movement marches in the past where they belong.

It can be hard to find a place where your rage, and willingness to take risk to express that rage are nurtured. The entire idea of “resistance” has been so thoroughly co-opted that the word itself has been rendered meaningless. We need to redefine what it means to resist: white supremacy, police brutality, imperialism, heterosexism, and transphobia.

To resist liberal “peace police” handing us over to the cops, defanging a beautiful youth-led rebellion, and turning it into something you can print on a T-shirt, a tote bag, or a mask.

We need to create a culture of resistance in this country that acts in solidarity with those from whom this land was originally stolen, and in solidarity with those that were stolen from their land.

Did peaceful protests free the slaves? Did peaceful protests stop the pipelines that scar the skin of our Mother? Fuck no.

You could march 1,000 miles peacefully before garnering the attention that one looted, and burned Target receives. The cops will kill again, and when they do this cycle of radicalization which has increased to break-neck speeds, will again increase. This time let’s give this racist house of cards the final blow, instead of just reshuffling the same old deck.

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