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Sep 25, 20

Thousands Face Down Militias, Vigilante Attacks & National Guard to Take the Streets in Wake of Breonna Taylor Verdict

In the face of far-Right militias, curfews enforced by riot police and National Guard, and vehicular attacks from vigilantes, over the past three nights, thousands of people from across the US and the world have taken to the streets in solidarity with Breonna Taylor, after a grand jury refused to bring charges against the police who murdered her. Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American Louisville resident, medical student, and emergency medical technician, was shot and killed by three white police officers in a botched drug raid, in what witnesses describe a no-knock assault, as officers were looking for a suspect that wasn’t even living inside Breonna’s apartment.

As Democracy Now reported:

In Louisville, Kentucky, a grand jury has declined to charge any of the three white police officers who killed Breonna Taylor with her death, more than six months after they shot the 26-year-old Black emergency room technician in her own home. The grand jury’s only indictments were three counts of “wanton endangerment” against former Louisville police detective Brett Hankison for shooting into the apartment of a neighbor during the deadly no-knock raid that ended Taylor’s life on March 13.

Demonstrations in Louisville began directly following the grand jury verdict and curfews have been put in place until the end of the weekend. Over two dozen people have been arrested, including Democratic representative Attica Scott, known for introducing Breonna’s Law. At the end of the first night, two police were shot and sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, although it remains unclear if the shooting was in relation to the protest. Both the National Guard was mobilized along with groups of far-Right militias, who for months have menaced Black Lives Matter rallies.

Mass marches, demonstrations, vigils, and protests then spread to other cities across the US and beyond, drawing thousands into the streets, shutting down bridges and freeways, and in some cities, resulting in property damage to government and police buildings and leading to clashes with law enforcement and attacks from vigilantes. Police responded in various cities by shooting projectiles and attacking demonstrators. Currently Oregon, Kentucky, and Missouri have declared a “state of emergency,” and Illinois is on standby for National Guard troops.

Meanwhile, Fox News, local authorities, and the Trump administration has continued to push the narrative of “anarchists” and rioters “burning down entire cities,” while the majority of the actual violence against living human beings at these protests has come from police and vigilantes attempting to run people over with their vehicles. Just in the last two days, in Seattle, a police officer on a bike was placed on administrative leave after they were filmed calmly driving over a protesters’ head and neck. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, CA, Denver, CO, and Rochester, New York, drivers also attacked marchers with their vehicles, sending several to the hospital.

According to Westword out of Denver:

Jonathan Benson, the man who hit a protester with his car in front of the Capitol during a demonstration on September 23, apparently bragged in January 2017 about doing the same thing on the night of Trump’s inauguration, when protesters were demonstrating in downtown Denver.

Despite the reality of where the majority of the physical violence is coming from, since the start of the George Floyd rebellion in late May, the mass media and corporate political parties have worked to divorce the growing autonomous social movements in the streets from their potential base of support within the wider population. Starting with attempting to blame the organic uprising as the work of “outside agitators” – everything from drug cartels, to anarchists, to Boogaloo Boys, to then attempting to draw a distinction between “violent” and “non-violent” demonstrations, the media and political parties have worked to recuperate the protests back into whatever culture war narrative benefits their political party.

In reality, what scares the elites the most is that the growing protests are part of a larger swing below and to the Left by the working class and poor. In the past several years, the number of strikes is rising and the amount of people joining demonstrations is also growing, especially in comparison to far-Right mobilizations, such as the Re-Open demonstrations.

According to the New York Times on July 3rd:

Four recent polls — including one released this week by Civis Analytics, a data science firm that works with businesses and Democratic campaigns — suggest that about 15 million to 26 million people in the United States have participated in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and others in recent weeks.

The response from both political parties to this multi-racial upswing in working-class anger and action has been to either call for the ramping up of repression or in the case of the Democrats, simply to fall back on tokenism and representational identity politics, while rejecting even flat out basic reforms.

The mass media has also attempted to paint the public as turning against the demonstrations, when in reality the Trump campaign has been successfully in marshaling their base against any potential support. In an increasingly cited study from the The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the report shows that since the death of George Floyd, overall support for the Black Lives Matter protests has dropped from 54% to around 40%, as support has increasingly been split along party lines, with “70% of Democrats approving [roughly the same number as was polled in June] and 75% of Republicans disapproving.” Back when similar studies were done directly following the death of George Floyd, polls found that 40% of Republicans stated that they supported the movement. In short, the mass media has framed the protests in terms of the broader culture war, with support being split along so-called party lines, with the Democrats painting the movement simply as a non-violent parade with no key demands or ideas and the Republicans holding it up as the end of Western Civilization and a violent movement aiming to attack “whites in the suburbs.”

In reality, support among non-Trump supporters remains high and largely unchanged. Even more interesting is the data that points to the growing shift in young people. An August study of Zoomers and millennials aged 19-30, from Gen Forward found that:

When asked about the best way to make racial progress in the United States, revolution was the answer most often chosen among African American young adults (19%), compared to 9% of Asian American, 13% of Latinx, and 11% of White young adults.

Almost a quarter of African American young adults (24%) report participating in recent and ongoing protests and demonstrations in cities across the country, compared to 14% of Asian American, 12% of Latinx, and 17% of White young adults.

Majorities of young adults across race and ethnicity say the recent protests are strongly or somewhat justified (75% African American, 78% Asian American, 65% Latinx, and 68% White).

The murder of Breonna Taylor shows that once again Black people’s lives are not worth finding police to be guilty of their own murders; that this system is uninterested in policing its own attack dogs. The degree in which the ruling elites are unwilling to address fundamental problems and enact basic changes shows how decrepit and corrupt this system is. For everyday people to continue to allow this system to govern and police our lives as monstrous problems from the pandemic, to the economic crisis, to climate change lay in front of us, is to foreclosure on the possibility of our collective future.

Here’s a roundup of action from the streets!

Pacific Northwest

Seattle, WA:

ABC News wrote that clashes with police led to surveillance cameras being destroyed and more than a dozen people being arrested. A police office that drove over the neck and head of someone lying on the street has also been placed on “administrative leave.” According to a report on Puget Sound Anarchists:

People join and others peel off after paint goes up and windows go out. Most of us are well aware that capital is complicity in Breonna’s murder, that is was in fact developers trying to gentrify the area who pushed for the police operation that ultimately resulted in the end of her life.

A few arrests are made throughout the night. Several dearrests happen. Regret fills the hearts of those who wished they acted differently and pulled there comrades from the pigs. There are many more of us than them.

By the end of the night the police had intentionally attacked legal observers and intentionally run over the neck and head of a prone injured person (the officer has since been given paid leave, basically a paid vacation, as footage of the incident makes the rounds the cops wait for the heat to die down).

There’s no peace so long as there are cops occupying neighborhoods and enforcing poverty here or troops occupying countries over there or drones bombing villages. So long as there is the brutalized and the brutalizer, so long as there is the exploiter and the exploited, how is there peace? It is no accident that the police protect property over life, and uphold a white supremacist order. It’s no accident that courts back them. Justice is never coming or perhaps it is already here and it serves the ruling order. Regardless if we want to abolish the police and the anti-black world they maintain, we must do it ourselves.

Olympia, WA:

A large crowd marched in the downtown and broke out the widows of city hall. According to The Olympian:

A crowd of people holding shields moved through downtown in a “formation” that vandalized property last night, spray painting businesses, breaking ATMs, breaking bus stop windows along Capitol Way and Fourth Avenue, and ultimately breaking multiple windows at City Hall, Olympia Police said on Thursday.

Police issued more than a dozen dispersal orders, and 13 people were arrested after police declared the scene a riot and began making arrests, according to OPD spokesperson Paul Lower, who referred to the group as a “mob.”

Police used pepper balls (which deploy pepper spray), stinger balls (which explode and release rubber bullets) and blast balls (which make a loud boom noise).

Portland, OR:

In Portland, as Abolition Media Worldwide reported, clashes with police broke out on the streets, with demonstrators smashing out the windows of the Central Precinct, police firing projectiles, and several Molotov cocktails being thrown by the crowd. People in Portland have protested in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement following the police murder of George Floyd for over 100 days, stopping only for a brief period when wildfires engulfed the nearby area and flooded the region with smoke.

Eugene, OR:

Several hundred marched, blocked streets, rallied outside of the jail, and pulled barricades into the streets.

Salem, OR:

 

Southwest

Santa Rosa, CA:

San Francisco, CA:

Oakland, CA:

Hundreds took to the streets, shutting down freeways and major roads.

Sacramento, CA:

More than 100 people took to the streets to demonstrate in solidarity with Breonna Taylor and those in Louisville.

Los Angeles, CA:

Hundreds flooded into the streets of Los Angeles. In one instance, someone drove their car into the crowd, striking one protester. According to Yahoo News:

In Los Angeles, where thousands took to the streets, a truck mowed down a protester, sending them flying into the air before speeding away. A white Prius also drove through protesters before it was chased down and halted. The driver was attacked and the windshield was smashed with a skateboard before they escaped.

San Diego, CA:

Phoenix, AZ:

Tucson, AZ:

Solidarity rally with Breonna Taylor and ongoing indigenous O’odham resistance at the border organized.

Albuquerque, NM:

Central

Oklahoma City, OK:

Denver, CO:

In Denver, Unicorn Riot reported:

Protests filled city streets all across the country Wednesday night, including in Denver, where hundreds rallied at the Colorado State Capitol and then marched throughout downtown.

At around 9:30 p.m. in Denver, a vehicle drove through some of the protesters who remained on the street outside the capitol; no one was badly harmed, and the Denver police arrested the driver. However on Thursday, Denver police said the driver was released and is not facing criminal charges.

Three other people were arrested during the protest, which continued past the end of the officially planned one. At about 10 p.m., some protestors marched to the Denver Police Department District 6 Precinct, where there was a stand-off between cops in riot gear standing behind the precinct fence, and the protesters on the sidewalk and street. Projectiles were used by both sides.

Austin, TX:

Dallas, TX:

Houston, TX:

Midwest

Milwaukee, WI:

Detroit, MI:

Grand Rapids, MI:

Hundreds rallied and marched in solidarity with Breonna Taylor. Some graffiti slogans written.

Columbus, OH:

Cleveland, OH:

St. Paul, MN:

According to Unicorn Riot:

A large protest shut down I-94 in Minnesota’s capital city as people responded to the news that Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove will not be charged for the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in her Kentucky home in a botched late-night raid on March 13, 2020.

Minneapolis, MN:

Barricades went up on the streets following the eviction of an encampment. According to CBS:

A group of demonstrators gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis Thursday night to protest the eviction of a homeless encampment in a city park.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board cleared the encampment at Peavey Field Park Thursday morning.

Protesters, who say police used chemical spray to arrested people at the park, temporarily blocked the Government Plaza light rail station Thursday evening.

Madison, WI:

Street marches and rally outside of Capitol building. slogans painted and posters wheatpasted.

Chicago, IL:

Various marches flood the streets of Chicago; graffiti slogans written.

Louisville, KY:

In Louisville, Kentucky, people flooded into the streets directly following the verdict. The National Guard and far-Right militias were on the ground, including the Oath Keepers. Police report that more than a dozen stores were looted. A fire was also set outside the Hall of Justice, and the following night, thousands faced off against the police and defied curfew. At some point during the first night of protests, two police officers were shot by a man in his 20s, however it it unknown if it was in connection to the protests. Both police officers are in stable condition and one has already left the hospital. A curfew will remain in place through the weekend and over 125 people have been arrested, according to the Washington Post.

Lexington, KY:

Southeast

Memphis, TN:

According to Action 5 News:

A protest in front of the Shelby County Jail blocked a portion of Poplar Avenue Thursday.

Protesters gathered in “Solidarity for Breonna” around noon in the parking lot across from 201 Poplar, first speaking to the media before moving to the street.

“We need justice,” one activist said. “We need it today, we needed it months ago.”

Nashville, TN:

New Orleans, LA:

Kansas City, MO:

St. Louis, MO:

Washington DC:

Charlottesville, VA:

Norfolk, VA:

Richmond, VA:

Hundreds marched for hours, leading to stand off in front of the police headquarters with law enforcement..

Atlanta, GA:

Graham, NC:

Durham, NC:

Charlotte, SC:

St. Petersburg, FL:

Northeast

Baltimore, MD:

Concord, NH:

Boston, MA:

Pittsburgh, PA:

Philadelphia, PA:

Buffalo, NY:

Brooklyn – New York, NY:

Marchers across Brooklyn and New York end up taking over and shutting down several bridges.

Providence, RI:

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