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Jun 25, 22

Riot Police Attack As Tens of Thousands Take to the Streets and Block Freeways After Roe v Wade is Overturned

On Friday and Saturday, tens of thousands hit the streets across the so-called United States in angry protests, after six Supreme Court judges rolled back the right to an abortion, marking a milestone in American politics and further signaling the growing fascistic drive of minoritarian rule over the vast majority of the population which rejects these policies.

The impact of the ruling was immediate and swift:

The 6-3 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is effective immediately. Abortion is now or will imminently become illegal in at least 21 states with a combined population of 135 million people. For the vast majority of working women, travel to the mostly coastal states where abortion remains legal will not be an option.

Moreover, this ruling will have far reaching implications, as Clarence Thomas has argued that this is just the start of rolling back decisions on gay marriage, anti-sodomy statutes, and other “right to privacy” laws. As anarchists in Olympia wrote:

The repealing of Roe v. Wade is just the start. The basis on which it is being attacked is the Right to Privacy, which is also the basis of many other decisions now in sight of the Supreme Court such as Lawrence v. Texas (protects against criminalizing homosexuality), Griswold v. Connecticut (protects buying contraceptives without government interference), Loving v. Virginia (legalizes interracial marriage), Meyer v. Nebraska (protects families teaching children a language other than English), Skinner v. Oklahoma (protects against forced sterilization).

The ruling centers around the concepts of Constitutional Originalism, which is a school of legal thought embraced by justices such as Clarence Thomas, which argues against a vision of the Constitution which seeks to expand freedom and rights to those under attack and instead argues that the “Constitution…only protects rights that already existed in the distant past.” This legal approach argues that only things written into the Constitution or through “cultural practice,” as it existed at the time of the writing of the Constitution, are guaranteed as rights.

Not only does this absolutely absurd legal framework imply that life should have remained unchanged since the late 18th Century, it is a framework that is being used to set the stage for even further attacks on various communities across the US. This approach allows the Supreme Court to essentially take away any right they deem fit, as long as they can argue that it does not appear in the Constitution, and as long as they can engage in vulgar historical revisionism.

Most impacted by this decision will be communities of color and the working-poor, as sweeping abortion bans will not only cut off much needed access to reproductive healthcare, but increase the threat of police repression, economic instability, and potentially death and major injury from ‘back alley abortions.’

The Failure of Liberal Pro-Choice Organizing and the Core of the State

We need to be clear about what this ruling means. It is not a declaration of moral position, rather, this ruling makes the argument that the morality of some should be imposed on others – through police force. In other words, this is the State taking on its role, becoming the mechanism of imposing sovereignty through violence. As long as the State exists we will never be able to determine the conditions of our lives, and this is just one shining example.

Once we view this ruling through the lens of the State itself, all of a sudden our approaches must change. In the liberal legalistic framework that has been dominant since Roe, those advocating for this approach are demanding that we engage the State from within the position of its most unchallenged power, the courts. By forcing politics into the courts, the pro-choice movement fundamentally weakened the ability of people to fight back against restrictive legislation in the years prior to this ruling; outside of established organizations, polite complaint, acceptability politics, and legalistic strategies.

At the core of the concept of reproductive freedom is a far broader call for autonomy: over our bodies, over our lives, and our choices. It is this demand for autonomy that separates the pro-choice movement, which is centered on actions of the State and courts, from the reproductive freedom movement, which centers our ability to take control over our lives – from the State.

The strategy of taking this to the courts with established organizations as part of a trajectory of polite and acceptable opposition has shown itself to have failed, as was inevitable. Rather than retreating back to the courts, we need to begin to push beyond the question of abortion and embrace a far more intersectional understanding of autonomy.

Beyond Rights, the Fight for Autonomy

The fight for autonomy begins with how we organize. Authoritarian socialists, liberals, and non-profits are all competing to see who can scavenge what is left for their own gain, using our tragedies as their recruiting opportunities. If we allow them to have this space, not only will reproductive freedom activists that have been doing work on the streets for years be marginalized, but direct action will be pushed back into these same controlled spaces of acceptability politics.

As Spencer Beswick argued:

In place of the slogan “we’re pro-choice and we vote,” anarcha-feminists often marched behind a banner reading “we’re pro-choice and we riot!” Anarchists supported struggles to maintain legal abortion but argued that we must be ready to act on our own terms in the fight for bodily autonomy and self-determination. Establishing reproductive healthcare infrastructure is a key component of feminist dual power that challenges the hegemony of the state and capitalism. This kind of infrastructure prefigures—and concretely establishes—a world defined by mutual aid, solidarity, and autonomy.

Anarchists advocated expanding grassroots infrastructure and self-organization to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their own reproductive care. They argued that this would produce true reproductive freedom and autonomy that was independent of the state and its laws.

We need to manifest the fight for reproductive justice and its wider call for autonomy, not only in our goals, but also in how we act. This may mean deciding to take action with just you, your friends, and a plan. Sometimes that means marching alongside others that we have differences with and not allowing the protest police to control our activity. Sometimes that looks like scheming to figure out how to source and distribute at-home abortion pills.

The fight for autonomy extends beyond abortion, and involves our entire relationship to policing. By allowing policing to determine the terms of engagement, whether that be in the courts or on the streets, we lose the very freedom that we are struggling for. It is only through our own actions that we can take our lives back, and it is only through autonomy that we can act.

Resistance Roundup

Across the Pacific Northwest, tens of thousands took to the streets in various cities and towns. In Portland, thousands rallies and took part in mass marches across the city. An anarchist bloc also wrote graffiti and later at night, took to the streets for a militant march. In Salem, Oregon and many smaller towns, people organized spirited marches and protests.

In Seattle, thousands marched, in Olympia a march followed a rally and in Eugene, over a thousand took to the streets and faced off against police and angry motorists who repeatedly drove into the crowd. Later at night, police clashed with protesters and made arrests after people “blocked Ferry Street Bridge and threw smoke bombs at officers.”

Across California, thousands took to the streets in San Francisco, Oakland and in Sacramento. In Los Angeles, thousands streamed into the streets and onto freeways, clashing with riot police and federal troops who violently tried to push marchers off the streets. Protesters responded with shooting fireworks at law enforcement and pushing back against police on the streets. Neo-Nazis in Orange County also put out a call to ‘defend’ Catholic churches and ‘traditionalist institutions.’

In Arizona, thousands took to the streets in Phoenix, swarming outside of the capitol building, only to be violently repelled with riot police projectiles and tear gas. Ironically, the capitol building was previously the scene of numerous armed demonstrations by ‘Stop the Steal’ protesters who also broke windows and swarmed the building, but faced no repression. Meanwhile in Tucson, over a thousands protesters took to the streets and shut down freeways.

Mass protests also took place in Denver, Colorado and Cedar Springs, Iowa, where a motorist drove their truck into a crowd full of demonstrators. Antifascist researchers quickly doxxed the driver online.

In Texas, thousands hit the streets in Austin, Texas and antifascists held an armed march in Dallas against recent fascist and far-Right violence.

In Nashville, Tennessee, Proud Boys were runoff by antifascists from harassing protesters while in Washington DC, the massive crowds kicked out white nationalist trolls.

In Atlanta, Georgia, thousands marched and wrote graffiti messages on the streets. The next day, armed members of the Wall of Vets also stood guard against a group of Proud Boys. In North Carolina, thousands hit the streets in Asheville, Raleigh and other cities, shutting down streets. Other mass rallies and marches took place in Jacksonville, Mississippi, Kansas City, Missouri, Miami, Florida and Richmond, Virginia.

In Washington DC, a large black bloc led a breakaway march from in front of the Supreme Court where thousands had gathered throughout the city, pushing through police lines multiple times to finally come back to SCOTUS without arrest.

In the Midwest, thousands marched in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. In Providence, Rhode Island, an off-duty police officer running for office attacked his opponent at a pro-choice rally. In Montpelier, Vermont, the State House was vandalized with the slogan, “If abortion isn’t safe, neither are you.”

In New York, thousands streamed into Washington Square Park and then took to the streets, vandalizing police cars, the Fox News building, and more.

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