Filed under: Action, Anarchist Movement, Northeast, Police, Repression, White Supremacy
Report back from recent #GeorgeFloyd actions in so-called New London, Connecticut.
On Saturday, in New London, and all over the country, people gathered to speak up and speak out. In parade plaza, our little city’s central square, several hundred people gathered for what was billed as a community discussion. It became quickly apparent that rather than a discussion, this was more of an opportunity for local politicians to pander and for police to provide feigned solidarity. Both politicians and cops were shouted down by large portions of the crowd. As the crowd became ever more irritated, people began to leave, at which point the organizers voiced their shock and outrage. People in the crowd made it clear they didn’t come to be talked at by politicians and police. Calls for the megaphone to be turned over to the people were finally honored, and the tone of the demonstration changed sharply. Speeches ranged from the origins of policing, the futility of strictly nonviolent protesting, the failures of reform, and the history of anti police organizing, including the Panthers’ cop watch programs. More than a few speakers said in front of the police overseeing the event that they would have no problem attacking police for doing what was done to George Floyd.
A couple of us decided to block the road in front of the train station (one of the major choke points for traffic in the city). Several liberals among the crowd tried to stop us and work with the police, but many of us reached out to fence sitters and reminded them that disrupting the function of normality is what gets the attention of the state. Eventually the police backed down and we began marching through the city. Suddenly it seemed that the politicians who said they would be right there beside us disappeared when we refused to play their game by their rules. More than a few people noticed and more than a few people called it out. The police were fairly hands off for the remainder of the day and the march ended back at the plaza with the agreement that they would be back the following week. The successful act of defiance was very empowering for the people, many of which were at their first demo. It really helped set the tone for next week.
As this rebellion really began to kick off across the nation throughout the week, anticipation built for Saturday. A poster circulated calling for protestors to wear masks and black clothing. When the day came the numbers far eclipsed the previous weekend and the police didn’t even bother to try to stop a march. Several police vehicles were vandalized, a police substation was tagged, and most importantly the Christopher Columbus statue, which has long been the subject of controversy was heavily tagged in red spray paint in broad daylight.
What followed was a citywide discussion on the relevance and future of the statue. After a few days, the mayor of the city announced the statue would be removed. Early this morning, June 14th, the statue was loaded on a flat bed truck and removed from the site. The fact that this conversation and the action that followed it was a direct result of an attack on the statue is something a lot of people are noticing. It was a very powerful lesson on direct action that even the most privileged Connecticut liberals couldn’t ignore. People have been protesting that statue for decades, and days after it was publicly attacked, it came down.
Time will tell how these lessons will inform resistance in our area, but we are very excited to find out.
-Solidarity from the mostly friendly anarchists of New London Mutual Aid Collective