Filed under: Analysis, Featured, Police, Repression, The State, US, White Supremacy
A look at the recent killing of Winston Boogie Smith in so-called Minneapolis by federal law enforcement, how the media rushed to back up false police claims, and how this latest killing fits into a pattern of targeted assassinations against political dissidents.
Winston Smith, a Black revolutionary, was assassinated by a task force sent by the Department of Homeland Security. The shooting took place on Thursday, June 3rd, 2021, around 2:30pm, in so-called Minneapolis, near W Lake Street and Girard Ave, on the top floor of a five-story parking garage under the beating sun. He was killed hours after the city attempted to dismantle George Floyd Square, an autonomous zone held on the blocks where George Floyd was murdered. People were rebuilding and strategizing at GFS—38th and Chicago—two and a half miles away, when word of the shooting spread. An “officer involved shooting” took place in Uptown, read one tweet. “Law enforcement investigating a fatal shooting,” “No law enforcement were injured, one fatality,” reads another. Dog-whistle headlines for the execution of a person. Scrap the vagueness, the smoke and mirrors, the pacification, the indoctrinated consent that local “journalists” write, and a traumatic image of cold-blooded murder manifests through the lying machine. The following story is trauma inducing; the assassination of another Black man on stolen Dakota land, and the attempts by the federal and state government to cover it up.
The Star Tribune Falsely Labels Smith a Murderer
The initial story printed at 3:02pm by the Star Tribune (local corporate media outlet) was “Hennepin County Sheriff’s shot and killed a man…The man was a murder suspect being pursued by deputies and possibly federal marshals.” In the article three things are confirmed by the Trib: Sheriffs shot a man, the man was a murderer (not true), and was being pursued by the sheriffs. The article also claims there is a ‘possibility’ federal marshals (U.S. Marshals, typically known as the hired guns for the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS) had been involved. Organizers and community members at the scene had taken pictures of DHS and ATF agents at 2:43pm.
US Marshals and ATF on-site…must be serious pic.twitter.com/LRk6bxODgv
— James Tucker (@tucker_dev) June 3, 2021
The Trib stuck with the story for four more hours. At 7:00pm they reversed their claims, “US Marshals Service” (side note, who the fuck are they servicing?), “said task force members were trying to arrest a man on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a gun. The suspect, in a parked car, ‘produced a handgun’”(not true), ”‘resulting in task force members firing.’” It proves without a doubt that the feds are not only involved but are leading the task force, and that the Trib deliberately published false information to their almost 400,000 Twitter followers. The updated version of this story is a verbatim DHS statement falsifying the murder suspect claim, as he is now a “felon in possession of a gun.” (A witness in the car denies any gun on Smith or in the car—discussed more below). The initial false statement is harmful because it gave every liberal an opportunity to turn up their nose and every fascist a chance to call Winston Smith a murderer whenever his name is brought up. While debunked in the later story, the Tribune left the story up for five days.
Wince’s last IG post from 5 days ago is him at Stella’s. They killed him in the parking ramp across the street. pic.twitter.com/HEPGo4wiNN
— Rachel Bean (@colocha_rachel) June 8, 2021
This is a common tactic used by the State. Radicals won’t ever be convinced of its legitimacy, but they are not the main targets of its propaganda. Instead the vast white-supremacist power structure works to shape the minds of liberals who only oppose the police when it conveniently fits their shortsighted analysis—and maintains their class standing. With George Floyd, the undeniable lynching was caught on camera, thoroughly debunking the doctored narrative MPD originally tried to deceive us with. By controlling and manipulating the story from the very beginning, by keeping information suppressed, by committing character assassination, the State was able to quell any unrest or civil disturbance before it started. Even so, they couldn’t stop youth militants from burning dumpsters and occupying the busiest intersection in posh Uptown. The petty-bourgeois liberals watched, some calling the police while they performatively staged BLM signs in the windows of their condos, displaying their true colors.
Winston Boogie Smith
— Winston Smith Was Assassinated ☭ (@diligenda) June 4, 2021
Winston Smith was a local comedian, musician, and father of three. He was well-known around the so-called Twin Cities and had videos of his comedy sketches going viral on Facebook. He was also a Black man living in Amerika; a target of an inhuman system of state and capital that kills without remorse. Smith had been through the “justice” system. He, like all of us, watched a righteous mass of predominantly Black and Brown working-class youths torch the Minneapolis Police 3rd Precinct. In April, Smith posted a video to his Instagram story. Smith smokes a blunt in the passenger seat of a moving car and speaks into a phone camera:
All this protesting shit like y’all still coming with y’all hands up saying y’all surrender being for y’all freedom, asking for justice? Is y’all serious?… Cus who ever is at these protests in Minnesota w all these killers, y’all not saying the right shit. Y’all telling mfs to come with their hands up and, what, peacefully assemble? For what? Nah fuck that, fuck that, fuck you, fuck them, fuck anybody who’s peaceful…So i say, they still shooting y’all down so they must want a war. So go get y’all gasoline at yall gas station. Stop going to the protest, go to the gas station, get y’all gasoline.
There is another narrative to the death of Winston Smith. Beyond the falsification, misinformation, and outright lies from the local state mass-media outlets, a story emerges of a revolutionary Black man coming into his thoughts, piecing all of it together—the oppression, systematic jailing of friends and loved ones, cruel dog-whistle politics, and murderous pigs—and then being stalked and shot.
The lack of federal transparency of the assassination of Winston Smith has even local state media outlet WCCO confused.
There are cameras all over that parking garage. BCA just claimed “they are not aware of any video.”#WinstonSmithWasAssassinated https://t.co/p44AnarxKL
— MNUPRISING (@MnUrising) June 10, 2021
On June 3rd, 2021, Winston Smith posts a picture at Stella’s bar. The Feds are watching his socials, so they are outside waiting for him to finish his drink. Smith walks up, with a partner, to the top floor of the parking garage and gets in his car. Instantly seven unmarked black cars surround him on all sides. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) recently stated the officers’ names would not be released due to them working undercover. That means, when the officers hopped out of their unmarked vehicles, they were in street clothes. Did they identify themselves? We do not know. Although there are cameras on every level of the parking garage, the BCA claims “they are not aware of a video.” and that federal officers and deputized sheriffs were not wearing body cameras because they are not required to, however the Department of Justice, which the Marshals work under, began a phase-in policy in October —after the assassination of Michael Reinoehl by US Marshals. “In February 2021, the US Marshals Service began to phase-in this policy, which continues to be implemented in the District of Minnesota.” The language in this statement is vague for a reason. If the footage makes the cops look bad enough they simply would not release it.
Yesterday, the BCA (which is investigating the officer shooting of Winston Smith) said deputies weren't wearing body cameras because U.S. Marshal policy prohibits it on task forces. The MN US Attnys Office confirms today that is factually inaccurate, policy was rescinded last yr pic.twitter.com/w9ReSnoEE1
— Andy Mannix (@AndrewMannix) June 5, 2021
Like the killings of Reinoehl and Smith, in the case of the execution of Andrew Brown, Jr., a Black man killed by North Carolina sheriff’s deputies, body-camera footage was purposefully hidden from the public because of the horrific manner of the murder.
Six days after the assassination of Smith, the Department of Justice released a statement, saying it would from now on require federal agents to wear body cameras while conducting arrests or searching buildings. The statement also cites Winston Smith as a factor in the decision. Pennies. Body cameras did not stop the execution of Andrew Brown, Jr., Dolal Idd, Daunte Wright, or Ma’Khia Bryant. Pennies, all the money in the world will not bring them back.
Smith’s friends have taken to Facebook to give their opinions. One posted a picture of the 7-8 unmarked cars surrounding Smith’s car, with the caption, “Just picture you’re sitting in your car chillin’ and 8 unmarked cars come super aggressive hitting your car and boxing you in then on top of that 7-8 guns are pointed at you screaming at you don’t move don’t fucking move from 7-8 people you don’t know.”
His friends are speaking out on his Facebook feed. pic.twitter.com/hAsXHaGbZC
— Rachel Bean (@colocha_rachel) June 10, 2021
On June 10th, seven days after the assassination, the person who was riding in Smith’s car on that day spoke through an attorney. The attorney told press, outside of the parking garage on West Lake Street and Girard Avenue what we all already knew: Winston Smith did not have a gun on him or in the car at the time of the assassination; the Marshals never attempted to arrest him; this is a direct state execution of a revolutionary dissident.
The attorney for the woman who was in the vehicle with Winston Smith when he was shot by law enforcement says she never saw a a gun on Winston Smith and never saw a gun inside the vehicle at any time.
— daviss (@daviss) June 10, 2021
Twitter accounts located in the settler colonial territory known as Minneapolis, have cited mass suppression of tweets with Winston Smith’s name or the claim that he was assassinated. @IanColdwater, a hacker living in Minneapolis, ran a test asking who had heard of Winston Smith and if they lived inside or outside Minnesota. 47 percent of the over 6,000 voters said they lived outside of MN and had not heard of him. This is much different from the killings of George Floyd, Dolal Idd, and Daunte Wright, all of whom made national news off social media, and were the trending #1 on twitter in occupied Turtle Island. @Colocha_rachel ran a test using private and non-private twitter browsers. The number of “impressions” on the private browser was more than double the non-private browser in the first 30 minutes, later becoming more than five times greater.
Have you heard about Winston Smith?
— Ian Coldwater 📦💥 (@IanColdwater) June 6, 2021
A Pattern of Assassination
Winston Smith’s assassination is eerily similar to the killing of Dolal Idd by Minneapolis Police on December 30th, 2020. Idd is trapped by 5-6 MPD squad cars, after a MPD sting operation went wrong. Pigs hop out of their cars, point their guns at Idd, and scream at him. Idd shoots back, one shot, and is met with a hail of bullets—Rest in Power. In a video posted to Instagram, Winston Smith talks about Dolal Idd’s killing. How he understands what Idd must have been going through as the lights, sirens, and firearms fell upon him. Smith deeply understood the authoritarian State’s unquenchable need to crush any questioning of their power.
Y’all. The emotions, the insight, the premonition, the intuition.
You have to pay attention to this, I’m begging you. pic.twitter.com/JUI7j6wfgJ
— Rachel Bean (@colocha_rachel) June 8, 2021
September 3rd, 2020, Lacey, Washington. An anti-fascist militant named Michael Reinoehl has gone underground after becoming a suspect in the killing of an armed fascist, Jay Danielson, at a rally in Portland, OR a few days prior. He is staying with a comrade in the suburb of Olympia. Reinoehl walks to his car, parked on a side street, carrying a phone in one hand and a bag in the other. He gets in the car and a US Marshal task force descends on him. Two vans full of some of the most heavily-armed cops in the world unload 28 bullets into Reinoehl’s car. The official story, as the former Attorney General Barr writes, was that “the suspect produced a firearm” and was therefore shot. The statement conflicts with accounts officers gave at the scene. Two officers stated that Reinoehl only made “furtive” movements per a NYT investigation. Trump later bragged about the hit on national media, “They knew who [Reinoehl] was, they didn’t want to arrest him and 15 minutes that ended.”
Witnesses claim Michael Reinoehl was killed without warning; by a notoriously violent fed task force comprised in part of MAGA loyalists after Trump called for "strength" against "this thug." Trump would later boast that he was directly behind the killing. https://t.co/qaI2bf6v5e
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) February 12, 2021
In April, The Oregonian released their own investigation. The official story now was that Reinoehl managed to pull a gun on the marshals, fire off a shot, and put the gun back in his bag, all while under a barrage of 28 bullets. The bullet Reinoehl supposedly fired at officers was never found.
The targeted killing of radicals and revolutionaries is not a new trend. Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and George Jackson were all assassinated by the US government in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In 2014, Ferguson, Missouri rose up and fought back after the racist police murder of Michael Brown. Since the uprising, Darren Seals and Deandre Joshua—both Black militants involved in actions on the streets of Ferguson, were murdered, execution-style, before their cars were set on fire with their bodies in them. Seals and Joushua were murdered two years apart. Their cases have never produced a suspect. Four more participants in the Ferguson Uprising have died since 2014, Marshawn McCarrel, Edward Crawford, Jr., Dayne Jones, and live-streamer Bassem Masri. Say their names.
In November, 2020, two Black organizers, 21-year-old Travis Nagdy and 42-year-old Kris Smith, were both shot and killed weeks apart. Nagdy in an apparent carjacking, Smith in a drive-by shooting. Both were described as “protest leaders” by Louisville, KY residents. Say their names.
On October 8th, 2020, Al Jazeera ran a story on the killings of Colombian political dissidents and grassroots organizers. The article quotes a Bogota-based research group called the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ), which found that, from 2016 to the fall of 2020, over 1,000 radicals, trade-union militants, anti-authoritarians, and guerrillas had been killed. Since 1963, France alone has assassinated 22 sitting African heads of state, including the Marxist, anti-imperialist leader of revolutionary Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara.
The State is ruthless. It’s media arm, more aptly titled ‘mass communication networks’, contribute to the cultural, white supremacist hegemony keeping millions docile. As the peoples narrative of the assassination of Winston Smith unfolded, we found that the Star Tribue, WCCO, and KARE 11 lied numerous times to preserve the pigs/state narrative purity. Smith was not a ‘murder suspect’, according to the witness in his car there was no gun, and while the BCA continues to tell reporters there is no camera footage, all one must do is walk into a downtown metropolitan city, and count the cameras to conclude their lie. To quote a recent chant from the protests following the attempted clearing of George Floyd Square: “If you’re paid by the city, you’re a mother fuckin piggy.” ACAB includes reactionary reporters.
Assassinations are a tool of the ruling class, they cut the head off the body. Anyone who is perceived by the state as a leader, someone of influence—specifically in oppressed communities—or a dissident speaking out against exploitation, displacement, and state-sanctioned violence, is a target. As uprisings expand and insurgent movements continue to grow in and against fascist Amerika, there must be a broad recognition of—and opposition to—the state’s willingness to use vicious, extra-judicial terror tactics to maintain power. Keep your heads low and your minds sharp. Build tight bonds with your comrades as you have each other’s backs. No gods, no masters, no leaders, no commanders.
Rest in Power Winston Boogie Smith.