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Jun 6, 20

This Is America #118: From Pandemic to Uprising

Welcome, to This Is America, June 5th, 2020.

It’s been a while, but we’re back! First up, we feature an interview with a resident from Minneapolis, MN who discusses the first day of protests against the police murder of George Floyd which kicked off the nation wide rebellion.

We then feature an interview with two folks on rent strike in Portland, OR about the growth of mutual aid projects since the COVID-19 outbreak and the increasing amount of renters joining the strike.

We then launch into a discussion about the the initial phase of the rebellion and what is means in 2020.

All this and more, but first, let’s get to the news!

Living and Fighting

In many ways it is impossible to describe what is happening across the the so-called United States other than to say that no-one expected this, and yet on the other hand, not one is surprised by it either. What we have witnessed over the past week is a genuine rebellion, coming not from the activist Left, the disorganized far-Right or MAGA cultists, or from the “progressive” middle-classes – but instead from below: the proletarian youth, especially of color. Feeding off of growing anger and despair, the rebellion is just as much about the murder of George Floyd as it is about the society and system which allowed his murder in the first place.

Over the past week we have witnessed as youth have stormed and burned down a police precinct, attacked and set fire to police cars across the country, blocked freeways, watched as Confederate statues have been pulled down and the Daughters of the Confederacy building was torched in Richmond, corporate stores have been looted, and rioters have set up barricades to defend their streets from the government. This rebellion has spread through nearly every major city and now demonstrations and protests are popping up in small towns and rural areas. Despite massive attempts at misinformation from the all side of the political spectrum, massive police repression, and the threat of military occupation – the revolt continues.

In response to the uprising, Trump has pushed to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, a move which we will discuss at length in the next episode, but is now also facing some resistance from other sections of the ruling class, with high ranking military brass now coming out against it, including “Mad Dog” Mathias. Many are concerned that Trump’s continued calls for violence, embrace of far-flung conspiracy theories, and push for police to “dominate” protesters will continue to backfire; leading to larger demonstrations and angrier crowds.

On Monday, in a move orchestrated by Attorney General Bill Barr, police and military attacked thousands of protesters in front of the White House, in order to make room for Trump to give his speech attacking “thugs,” “anarchists,” and “antifa,” and declaring he would send in the military if Governors did not do more to put down “violence.” After his speech, Trump then walked to a near-by Church, where holding a Bible, he posed for a three-minute photo opt with an all-white group of staff members. A letter written by one of his former lawyers which Trump posted to Twitter, referred to those attacked in DC outside the White House on Monday as “terrorists,” and claimed they were “not real.”

General John Allen stated that Trump’s push toward a military-police state:

“May well signal the beginning of the end of the American experiment. [This] is what happens in authoritarian regimes. [This] is what happens in illiberal regimes. It doesn’t happen in the United States, and we shouldn’t tolerate it.”

The New York Times reported that:

“Senior Pentagon leaders are now so concerned about losing public support—and that of their active duty and reserve personnel, 40 percent of whom are people of color—that…the Joint Chiefs of Staff, released a message to top military commanders on Wednesday affirming that every member of the armed forces swear an oath to defend the Constitution, which, he said, ‘gives Americans the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.’”

In an attempt to put a wet blanket no the rebellion, the State has moved to also charge the remaining three officers as accessories to murder and add more charges to the original officer who killed Floyd. Liberals have also stepped up their attempts to hijack demonstrations while the media has attempted to divide protesters against each other. Meanwhile, national guard troops continue to patrol the streets across the US while curfews remain in many areas although in cities like Seattle, LA, Oakland, and Washington DC they have been lifted. So far, around 10,000 people have been arrested since the start of the uprising.

Meanwhile, far-Right social media grifters have been hard at work, attempting to orchestrate fear and violence among Trump supporters. Both Michelle Malkin and Matt Gaetz were suspended from Twitter for calling for the murders of “looters” and “antifa.” Neo-Nazis have been discovered to be behind fake “ANTIFA” accounts calling for violence in white suburban areas, a lie promoted by Fox News and some GOP elected officials. Far-Right troll Jack Posobiec falsely proclaimed that there were pipe-bombs hidden on the Washington Mall, and the White House even tweeted out a now debunked conspiracy theory that “ANTIFA” was purposefully leaving piles of bricks throughout cities in order to encourage violence.

Also, there have been reports across the US about people being approached by the FBI, either through door knocks or at court appearances, asking to speak about protests, “ANTIFA,” or even “anti-fascist sentiments.” If this happens to you, remember the smartest thing to say, and is your legal right, is nothing other than you do not wish to speak at the time, and refer them to attorneys at the National Lawyers Guild.

But despite this massive crackdown and disinformation campaign, troops on the streets, multiple killings during the revolt at the hands of cops, National Guard, and vigilantes – the uprising continues to explode as the police brutally attempt to retake the streets and re-cement the social contract in the hearts and minds of the people.

  • In the Pacific Northwest, demonstrations have continued in major cities with people continuing to march nightly.
  • In the bay area, nightly demonstrations have continued, as have they in Sacramento and other smaller towns and cities.
  • In New York, where the curfew remains in place, thousands have continued to hit the streets nightly, leading to continued clashes with police. On Thursday, an march was brutally repressed and faced many arrests.
  • In Washington DC, protests have continued nightly, with thousands continuing to protest; clashing with police, while the White House has constructed a series of metal barricades and fences outside of it.
  • Lastly in Minneapolis, where National Guard remains on the streets and curfews are in force, an autonomous zone has been building in the aftermath of the riots that kicked off last week. According to an article in TruthOut:

A hotel along the Lake Street corridor that saw clashes and fires after four police officers arrested and killed Floyd is now occupied by houseless residents and activists who converted the building into a shelter for those displaced by conflict…neighbors and volunteers gather on a daily basis to distribute food and household supplies from pop-up free shops while many stores remain closed…Neighbors are also coming together to build strategies for keeping each other safe without the police, according to interviews with residents and local activists.

Hundreds of people fill the intersection during the day, paying their respects at the vigil and sharing meals. Barbecues are set up in the street; friends and neighbors line up for free tacos and chicken. Families and volunteers hand out groceries, diapers, first aid supplies and fresh produce from folding tables and the trunks of their cars.

Mike Ludwig

The shell of a nearby corner store was converted into a free food shelf by a local workers center that organizes for better wages and working conditions. Neighbors file in and out with groceries. The organization sprang into action as soon as the protests started last week, handing out masks and personal protection equipment to protesters and gathering donations of food and water…Over the weekend, hundreds of people met in a nearby park and began sketching out neighborhood-level initiatives to keep each other safe from the police and suspected groups of white supremacists…

A mile up the street from the food shelf and vigil, the Sheraton Midtown Hotel has been repurposed as a shelter for residents who were camping in tents or living outside before buildings were burned and the National Guard was called in. Young volunteers, both housed and houseless, wear coronavirus masks and staff the front desk; the lobby and bar are now meeting spaces where free meals are served. A cardboard sign by the concierge’s desk announces the schedule for daily general meetings for residents.

A room next to the main lobby was turned into a first-aid station. There, volunteers have stockpiled needle containers and naloxone, the overdose-reversing drug, donated by local organizations such as Southside Harm Reduction Services and Hope Network. There is also an herbal medicine station, and volunteers are building room dividers and receiving cots to better treat guests.

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