“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, & to steal bread.”
– Anatole France
“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, & to steal bread.”
– Anatole France
This is 3-year-old Jaidyn Walker from Atlanta at a “die-in” in White Plains, NY just north of NYC in Westchester County. For the second night in a row thousands of protesters are filling the streets & bridges of NYC & cities across the US to protest the decision to let the murderous cop who strangled Eric Garner to death walk free. There were no ambiguities in this case, no confusions about what happened since the murder was videotaped from start to finish. The opacity of the grand jury decision & likely prosecutorial misconduct has not yet been sliced & diced as the Michael Brown grand jury decision to show the arrant racism & social hatred involved.
The question must be asked: has the US ruling class lost its mind? Does it really think it can get away with this forever without a massive countermovement of justice? Does it think the thousands of protests across this country will eventually dissipate & they can go back to shooting unarmed Black teens without consequences?
This is where the media plays such an invaluable role by playing stupid & doing the incredulity thing about cop terrorism in the Black community. Just one case in point (out of many) would be the Judy Woodruff newscast on PBS, the corporate-funded channel that like NPR pretends to intellectualism. Woodruff, a very long-time reporter, asked NY Times reporter David Brooks & some other middle-aged jamoke just how widespread cop violence actually is against unarmed Black teens. The question came after airing extensive footage of protests across the US. The protesters are the ones who would know & who any self-respecting investigative reporter would interview. David Brooks is an effete, privileged, right-winger; a disciple of Milton Friedman; a person who believes humans derive from killer apes; a man who attributes his conservatism to his time as a crime reporter in Chicago; a right-wing Zionist who supported Israel’s Operation Ethnic Cleansing in Gaza & doesn’t recognize the humanity of Palestinians; a man whose home is a suburban villa & lives the yachting life. What the hell would he know? Or should we ask, what the hell does he have to say that’s worth a rat’s ass?
But that is the (let’s be frank) scummy way media tries to cover for police terrorism in the Black community–bringing on reporters that don’t look psycho & so can say the most rancid lies & make them credible.
The main way the voices of justice are heard is in the streets collectively demanding justice by shutting this country down if need be. And the time for “need be” has arrived. We can’t breathe in a society based on social hatred & oppression. Shut it down.
(Photo by Adrees Latif/Reuters)
Though out of the headlines, protests continue in Mexico against the disappearance of 43 student teachers & in Hong Kong despite police attacks to shut down the democracy encampments. Now the US has erupted with protest over the impunity of killer cops going after unarmed Blacks. If we look at the world in the past several years, we see massive protests everywhere that shake the foundations of the status quo. Though none yet have brought it down. There were massive anti-austerity protests throughout Europe followed by the Occupy movement & by the Arab uprisings in several countries; there were protests in Turkey, Brazil, Chile, Russia, India, the Philippines, & many smaller eruptions in other countries. Many of these protests sustain now for years.
Cynics look at this & claim nothing good has come from all that protest. Tyranny was shaken but remains intact so there’s not much purpose to social protest. It would be better if cynics kept their traps shut since their vision is so tainted by pessimism. They’re a drag to be around. What they don’t see is that these eruptions in Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, & the US expose the systemic crisis of neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism. Its predations have created such inequality, such human suffering, such unbearable economic, social, & political conflict they cannot be contained or managed even with countless wars.
These social explosions will continue because the global system is in profound crisis & unable to maneuver out & it’s methods remain greater austerity attacks on working people & wholesale assaults on democratic rights–most importantly the right of protest–to limit the ability of working people to resist.
It’s undeniable the massive mobilizations have not produced regime or systemic change. And where they have, as in Egypt, they have been out-maneuvered by the forces of reaction combining to reverse the gains. That doesn’t mean political resistance to tyranny & neoliberal predation is all for naught. It means the decaying system still has plenty of force left & a determination to survive at all costs so its power & treacheries cannot be underestimated. It means massive protests can be insufficient to the task of social change if there is no program for action developed & a leadership forged & selected that is uncompromising with tyranny & doesn’t confuse its enemies with its allies–like those who thought the military in Egypt could play a progressive transformative role. These are hard lessons to learn; no one can get on their high horse if major mistakes have been made.
A program for action means figuring out what is required to end tyranny once & for all, what is needed to address the injustices & inequalities in society, what would a humane society look like, who the shysters are & who the men & women capable of building a solid movement, of uniting discordant voices & visions & of standing strong against blandishments or belligerence from the ruling elites. In short social transformation is a complex process requiring the best we have to give. Sometimes it seems evolutionary–until revolutionary becomes imperative.
All that’s certain is that society cannot carry on as it is with neoliberal regimes running the planet into the ground for private profit & creating such massive overwhelming human suffering. Somethings gotta give but it won’t without a shove. We live in momentous times, stressful times, but the crisis of neoliberalism opens up possibilities for social transformation–real possibilities. And the sine qua non of that transformation is international solidarity: “an injury to one is an injury to all.”
The head of New York City’s police “union” is whining that cops think Mayor de Blasio’s statement on the Garner verdict ‘threw them under the bus’, a cliche he repeated more than once as he is given more to brutality than to eloquence. Oh cry me a river!
He also said we have to teach kids not to be afraid of cops & “to comply with New York City police officers even if they think it’s unjust” as it most often is. The NY Civil Liberties Union reports that since 2002 over 5 million New Yorkers have been subjected to stop & frisk interrogations. Nine out of ten accosted were completely innocent of anything. Just in the first three quarters of 2014, nearly 39,000 were stopped. Almost 21,000 were Black (54%); 11,000 were Latino (27%); & 5,000 were white (12%). Overall, 32,000 were innocent of anything. What the other 7,000 did to merit detention is anybody’s guess. They might have had a joint in their pockets. Oh whoop-dee-doo!
Numerous studies show NYC police target Blacks & Latinos. Can anyone think of a good reason why they should be taught to respect that? In truth, we should not teach children to respect or comply with harassment; we should teach them to resist oppression every inch of the way. We should teach them to be judicious if nailed by a cop–in the same way you are if cornered by a rattle snake. We should teach them to respect themselves, respect justice & fairness, but for heaven’s sake only a fool would teach them to respect racist authority.
This woman is grieving & protesting the Garner decision in Philadelphia at the city’s tree lighting ceremony last night. It’s a very poignant photo because grief & outrage have always been inextricably intertwined. They are the twin emotions of social protest & the driving force of social transformation.
Too often activists are smeared as troublemakers, malcontents, anti-social misfits. But it was Che Guevara who said “At the risk of sounding ridiculous, the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.” One might only add to love the emotions of grief & anger & an implacable sense of justice.
Those of us living to witness the regeneration of Black power can thank the lucky stars we were born under. This is a tragic day because justice was again denied. But this is a glorious moment in time when thousands of human beings rose up & said “We can’t breathe. Racism has to be dismantled.” It’s gonna be a bumpy ride because the ruling elite has everything invested in racism; for them much is at stake & they will use every weapon in their arsenal, including dirty tricks & frame-ups, to destroy this new movement. We keep our eyes on the prize & keep moving forward in solidarity with the Black community.
(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Thousands of protesters were all over NYC & across the country last night to protest the refusal to indict the killer cop who murdered Eric Garner in July. Thousands closed down traffic into & out of Manhattan by taking over the bridges. Protesters took over Grand Central Station & closed down intersections. Garner’s last words “I can’t breathe” reverberated across the city.
The US war on the Black community was always intended to reverse the gains made in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s & to forestall the development of a new generation of activists to complete the unfinished tasks. This has been a brutal & relentless government campaign since the ebb of the social movement now over 40 years ago.
The Democratic Party plays a vital role in channeling the energies of resistance. The periodic choice between white & Black Democratic candidates was supposed to serve in place of activism. We can see just how far that went with hundreds of unarmed kids shot down on the streets every year & thousands railroaded into jail for minor offenses & nary a peep from those ersatz champions in the Democratic Party. Champions like Democrats Robert McCulloch, the Ferguson DA; the governor of Missouri who deployed National Guard against protesters; & Obama, who offers little more than mealy-mouthed condolences but will deliver no justice.
The ruling elite is playing a dangerous game here. One could say they’re pushing their luck hoping police repression of protesters, continuing violence against Black teens in the streets, & kangaroo court verdicts will demoralize the movement now emerging across this country. They think they can wait it out & outsmart it like they did the Egyptian & other Arab uprisings, like they’re doing against austerity protests in Europe & elsewhere. They seriously underestimate the fathoms of Black outrage at decades of SWAT teams & racist tyranny.
We are witnesses to & participants in the rise of a new social movement that will begin to tear the fabric of systemic racism asunder, that has the potential to transform social & political life not just in the US but across this planet. The ruling elite will use the courts & the cops to reverse that powerful surge of resistance. It is our mission to drive it forward under the mantra “We can’t breathe in a society based on racism & social hatred. It’s gotta go!”
(Photo of protest on Brooklyn Bridge last night by Jason DeCrow/AP)
“White privilege theory,” expounded mostly by elite academics, nowhere shows its political bankruptcy & impotency more dramatically than at the outset of a new civil rights & Black power movement. It’s an upper-class form of guilt-baiting that has no place to go politically because it sees racism as rooted in psychology & not in the entire system of economic, social, & political relationships. It differs very little from those religious doctrines that see social transformation beginning & ending with personal redemption. It’s primary purpose is to make people feel bad about being white, as if it’s an original sin. And it’s a way for elites to dodge the issue of class & their own privileges.
The Black community is under serious assault. This is a time when they are rebuilding forms of mass resistance to defend their children from police violence & assert Black power. Every assistance to that mission must be rendered without hesitation. Meanwhile the “white privilege theory” crowd is pumping out one silly-assed article after another taunting whites for being unwittingly racist & not taking time to scrutinize their privilege. They function like snipers trying to weaken the movement–albeit with an insular smugness.
Of course racism is a problem; it’s true that many who support civil rights have a limited grasp of the problems. That was just as true of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. But movement-building transforms people & educates them profoundly while navel-gazing, guilt-baiting, & white privilege therapy lead to a political dead-end. Because fundamentally it’s an apolitical alternative to solidarity. Nay, not just an alternative but an outright opposition to solidarity.
This is a time to support Black power–the political method of people like Malcolm X who came to see the limits of castigating white people & understood the imperative to forge alliances in action with anti-racist whites. For those who want to understand what to do, read Malcolm, dump the “white privilege theory”.
A New York City grand jury found “no reasonable cause to vote an indictment” in the Eric Garner case. Garner was an unarmed Black man (& father of 6 children) jumped by four cops & held in a chokehold by a white cop for suspicion of selling cigarettes illegally. Either the US has the world’s dumbest prosecutors or the system is bunkering down for outright war on Black civil rights.
Civil rights activists in NYC are out in force near Rockefeller Center where the Christmas tree lighting ceremony is scheduled later tonight. The colossal political blunder of Ferguson is now compounded. The counterforce of justice will be mighty.
It’s an embarrassment to see the occasional image of protesters canoodling with the cops like they were just fine fellows in a bad spot. The canoodling is meant as a gesture of camaraderie but in fact it’s evidence of apolitical touchy-feelyism. Cops lob tear gas & stun grenades at protesters, beat on them with truncheons, deny them rights protected under the Bill of Rights. Cops directing traffic are one thing; cops at protests are there for no good purpose & are not our friends.
So when this photo of a kid at a Portland, Oregon rally about Ferguson hit the wires apparently many who think racism is just a personal matter, a privilege theory thing, felt the cockles of their hearts glow. Those with any good sense & an understanding of the systemic nature of racism were sickened. Because these protests were about the shooting of an unarmed Black kid by a killer cop & about the hundreds of Black teens shot down or stopped & frisked by racist cops. This is not a moment for warm & fuzzy fraternity.
You can imagine the relief, if not also disgust, to learn that 12-year-old Devonte Hart, was set up, manipulated into this fraudulent scene. The Portland Police Department recognized the potential for this image & dispersed it round the globe. They also attacked protesters just hours later. So much for touchy-feely crap.
Protesting racist injustice is serious business. Over the decades, many Black activists have died at the hands of cops. It’s nice to want to get along with everybody but save the canoodling for the church picnic.
(Photo by Johnny Nguyen/AP)
This is Richard III looking less than handsome but a lot like Phil Windsor. If blue blood amounted to a hill of beans wouldn’t the moochocracy leave better looking corpses than this? What’s the point of nectar running through your veins if this is the end result? Looks just like Uncle Harry, a ditch digger on minimum wage.
(Photo from University of Leicester)