By David Martinez
In response to militant, combative mass protests that have little precedence in Austin’s history, there has been an increasing response from the state to employ low-intensity counterinsurgency efforts in an attempt to rehabilitate their image and win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the public. These efforts include a farcical ‘protest’ where police feigned support for the anti-police brutality movement as well as a public relations stunt in which APD handed out cookies to protesters.
On Monday evening, ruling class media fawned over a small gathering which started off with a line of unidentified ‘activists’ marching arm in arm with APD officers. The local news made exaggerated statements on how amazing it was after two days of rebellious marches and mass combative action.
Regardless of whether the activists leading the march were officially working with the state, the protest itself should be considered a staged farce, as it was conducted in full collaboration with the very police who are the subject of the mass rebellion across the US and have been brutally repressing demonstrators. Throughout the march, protesters went out of their way to hug and shake hands with the police, as well as welcoming a police escort and the officers marching alongside them.
The march even stopped at one point for a photo-op with the police, complete with the attendees putting their fists in the air. Later on, the fake protesters raised their fists in front of the notoriously violent Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers at the Texas Capitol, who also raised their fists in a mockery of the gesture, which is supposed to be a symbol of the people’s militance. Ruling class media called it a “powerful moment.”
One organizer, simply referred to as a longtime Austinite named Michael, said the event was “nothing but love and unity. Police officers coming from behind their own line to kneel with us, to give us hugs, to shake our hands, to hug us and tell us they understand our pain.”
When they returned to APD Headquarters, one protester who was in fact agitating against the cops, out of place among the cop-loving organizers, was run out by those who told him to “leave our peaceful protest.” He was soon arrested by the police and taken into APD HQ on unknown charges. If anyone has information on the arrested man, please contact Tribune.
The next night, APD engaged in a full-on public relations stunts when they started handing out cookies from a local business, Tiff’s Treats, at a spontaneous protest. The protesters were more skeptical than those on Monday night, and many rejected the cookies, walking away to begin their march. Others accepted the cookies, either not recognizing how they were being used as pawns for police self-promotion or willing to play along.
Ruling class media has covered an endless barrage of similar displays around the country, all transparent PR stunts by the police and their bourgeois masters to deflect from the crimes they have committed, including the many cases of brutality against the ongoing anti-police demonstrations. The police pretend to “understand people’s pain,” while at the same time shooting multiple protesters in the face with rubber bullets and gassing hundreds for daring to stand in the road. The broad masses of people see these fake peace offerings for what they are, and have continued to rebel against the violent, racist police despite their insincere and manipulative ‘solidarity’ performances.