03/06/2020

National rebellion in the US

The riots against police brutality are the symptom of a great political and social crisis.

Versión en español



Since Thursday night, protests triggered by George Floyd’s murder have reached a massive national scale, with clashes in more than 30 cities. In Minneapolis that night, protesters set fire to the police precint where Floyd's killers were being held, sending a symbol of the rebellion that was spread around the world. In Louisville, Kentucky, where protests are focus on the accountability for the murder of health care worker Breonna Taylor, police repression has left seven people shot. Seventy demonstrators were also arrested at the New York protests on Thursday.


Protests at the White House and clashes with security forces have also been going on since Thursday, and on Saturday there were continuous fights at the perimeter fence. In Atlanta, a huge demonstration had virtually occupied the headquarters of the CNN news network. The mobilizations were in sharp opposition to police repression. Images of destroyed patrol cars could be seen across the country from Brooklyn to Houston. In Oakland, the heavily populated Black city next to San Francisco, one cop was killed and another one shot (New York Post, 5/30).



The five-day delay for the arrest of Dereck Chauvin, Floyd’s murderer, the failure to arrest the three policemen who were with him during the killing and the fact that the charges were brought by a minor figure (third degree murder), fuelled the popular anger and set off a mass uprising, in a social environment resembling a pressure cooker.


The inability to control the real rebellion in Minneapolis with the local police and the 500 Minnesota National Guard troops that were stationed there all week, plus the 1,200 deployed on Saturday, has led the White House to resolve to enlist military police corps. To do this requires declaring the protests as insurrections, something that hasn’t been done since the 1992 Los Angeles riots, following the acquittal of 4 cops who had brutally beat african-american Rodney King on tape. Texas, Colorado and Utah also mobilized their National Guard delegations against the protests.


Meanwhile, on Saturday night, the crowds in Minneapolis and around the country were huge and overcame police repression.


The attempt to crush the movement through the deployment of troops has not ceased. On Sunday, the 31st, images were seen of tanks leading military patrols through neighborhoods in Minneapolis.



Trump fights fire with gas


Many pundits have pointed out that Trump's behavior has been more of a polarizer than an attempt to appease conflict. In various tweets he called the protesters "THUGS" and said that "when looting starts, the shooting starts" citing a racist sheriff who suppressed black riots in the '60s. On Saturday, he issued a series of messages, including saying that if the protesters had managed to cross the fences of the White House they would have been "greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen" and denouncing a lack of deployment of local police, berating DC Democratic mayor. On Saturday, in a speech on the SpaceX rocket launch pad, after faking grief over Floyd's murder, he continued by preaching the need to impose the "rule of law" on the streets and to attribute the demonstrations to leftists, anarchists and looters.


The inflammatory speech, in defense of the repressive forces criticized by the national insurrection, is an attempt to mobilize his right-wing social base, formed by the petite bourgeois, against the protests. On Friday, with the White House under siege by protests, he tweeted that it was "MAGA night at the White House" but his followers never arrived to support him. At the moment, the only known actions of the racist right are the firing of buildings in black neighborhoods, far from having the courage to confront the massive mobilizations.



Journalists have been a target of police brutality throughout the country. Images of CNN's journalist Omar Jimenez being arrested in Minneapolis traveled around the world. NBC journalists were shot by the police with rubber bullets and gas canisters. Linda Tirado, a photographer for The Guardian, was shot in the eye during the protests in the city.


This is part of a more general context of conflict. The huge crisis Trump is surfing includes clashes with a sector of the media and technology companies, which have come to a head these days, both in terms of handling the pandemic and in terms of the dispute over the conditions of the national election and – now – the rebellions over police repression. CNN, one of Trump's favorite targets, has done extensive coverage of the riots and has an analysis of what it considers 654 Trump lies about the pandemic over the course of 14 weeks, refuted one by one on its cover.


Twitter marked Trump's message about the shootings as inappropriate content for inciting or glorifying violence. This was preceded by an earlier clash, when they had marked a message from the president against the use of absentee voting as "misinformation”. Trump responded with a controversial decree overturning the legal protection of social media, limiting its ability to take no responsibility for the content posted by its users. The rest of the technology companies, which had actively responded to the anti-immigrant offensive when Trump took over, are now silent.



Heading to the Iceberg


Trump appears to be handling the crisis in a violent and desperate manner, but with little real competition in political terms. As it happens, U.S. big business is rejoicing at the multi-billion dollar rescue package it is swallowing up and generally supports the aggressive policy of ending the lockdown proposed by the president. Democrats complain about his bad manners, but they’ve voted for the same rescue package and support the lifting of the quarantine. They are engaged in squabbles with the federal government on all sides at the local level, but they do not express any other overall policy, making them seem extremely weak.


While they have given their condolences for Floyd's assassination, the responsibility of Clinton, Obama and Biden in the expansion of the police and prison complex is enormous. Trump has, of course, provided the police with an upgrade in military gear and explicit support for their racist and repressive behavior.


Even in an explosive crisis that is generating growing mass reaction, it is the tycoon who has the initiative. Trump is still promoting fascist groups that are campaigning against the lockdown. He is in a crusade to enforce in-person voting in the November elections, without allowing the expansion of mail-in voting and the flexibility for voter registration demanded by Democrats. He has brazenly argued that if he switches to a mail-in voting system, "you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again", relying on coronavirus fear for a low turnout to the polls that would benefit him.



The escalation of the trade and diplomatic war with China is a strong attempt to escape forward. This includes the spectacular declaration of a break with the World Health Organization, absurdly declaring it a Chinese satellite. Trump is moving towards an armed conflict as a way out of the deep crisis generated in the US for the loss of its role as the global policeman.


The political paralysis of the Democrats extends to their left wing, which has not produced any overall political proposal in the face of the social and economic crisis in the quarantine, nor in the face of the national insurrection. There are huge contradictions with their base. DSA canvassers, supporters of Sanders' campaign and the country's main left-wing organization, are in the front line of all the confrontations with police. Formally, their position is to not support Biden's campaign, but their congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has joined the "unity" task force launched by Biden and Sanders. Outside of electoral politics, DSA is hiding behind its "lax" and "broad" character in order not to take any political initiative, which could only take them into a clash with the Democratic Party, within which it intends to continue climbing positions in the State. The violent revolt of the black community strongly denies the fact that the electoral support given by black representatives of the Democratic Party to Biden expresses a moderate and conformist tendency in its population.



The black community, and all exploited people, face a violent dilemma and are clearly becoming aware of it. The economic depression combined with the standstill due to the lockdown has thrown the country to levels of unemployment that have surpassed a quarter of its population in a few months. It took four years for the 1929 crisis to reach this level of unemployment.


Workers and young people have been leading an escalation of "wildcat" strikes (without union support) in these months over health and hygiene conditions and against wage cuts and layoffs. A huge movement of tenant and mortgage strikes has been mounted. The revolt of these days against police repression has been joined by actions by immigrant rights movements. These revolts are framed by this historic crisis in the U.S., which even questions its place as the world's dominant power, and by a rise in mass struggles unseen for decades. The conclusions of the ongoing struggles will raise to thousands the need for a political organization of the workers and all the exploited, in order to give this immense crisis a way out that guarantees dignifying living conditions for the 99%. This can only be done at the expense of capital, a road forbidden to the political system that has led to this disaster.

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