PHOTO: An unknown protester fearlessly confronts a DPS Trooper during Austin uprising.
By Keith Connor
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is working with the Austin Police Department to target and arrest those they deemed as “extremists,” following the expropriation of a Target store during a protest against police brutality, according to the Austin American Statesman, a ruling class owned newspaper. The embarrassed authorities are trying to make examples out of the protest for its militancy and blame organized activists for the initiative of the masses against the huge corporation.
So far, three protesters have been arrested facing various charges, including “participation in a riot” and “burglary of a building.” The reactionaries claim that they are targeting around 30 people for arrest.
The state and government agencies are desperate in the aftermath of a weekend of intense rebellion previously unseen in Austin, but Austin activists are no stranger to APD and FBI plots to ensnare those they consider a threat to their racist power structure. Trump and his state agents have sown the ground for repression by claiming ‘ANTIFA’ (a fictionalized form of ‘Antifa’, which is derived from the historical Antifaschistische Aktion in Germany), are behind the rebellious protests for George Floyd.
The first arrest occurred Friday around 2PM outside of a local grocery store, where federal task force members arrested a young black woman in front of her young child as well as sympathetic grocery store workers. Her story began being shared on Twitter and around social media, especially among black Austinites, who are correct to feel targeted.
Community members have begun warning one another and looking out for each other. The state and government agencies have also been spotted conducting surveillance on streets where they believe activists reside, neighbors and sympathetic workers have notified Tribune of the suspicious men, who stand out in the community conducting their surveillance.
Two more activists were arrested by late Friday night. One was at his home, when a plainclothes officer knocked on the door, and forced his way in followed by twenty armed police officers who stormed in. The young activist was detained face down on the floor while the small army of police swept through the apartment.
Margaret Moore, the Travis County District Attorney, has stated, “These arrests are important to protecting not only the property owners, but, even more importantly, the peaceful protesters whose message should be heard.”
Moore, from the Democratic Party, quickly leapt to defend a private corporation such as Target and back Trump’s ‘ANTIFA’ witchhunt, but she waited two entire months to initiate legal proceedings against the cops who killed an unarmed Black-Latino man Michael Ramos, only doing so under the recent pressure following the mass uprisings.
One of the jailed activists, who engaged in no illegal activity, says she was targeted only for being outspoken and angry at the systematic murder of black people by the hands of the state. When asked about the conditions in the jail she said they were carrying out “business as usual” and taking no extra sanitary precautions in the conditions of COVID-19.
She continued, “Central bookings is a factory for the virus, they do not even offer hand sanitizer after forcing everyone to touch the same fingerprinting machine.” She informed Tribune that she plans to get tested.
The other two arrested are a couple who live together, and one of the bond conditions for the woman was that she have no contact with her ‘co-defendant,’ meaning they could not even see each other upon release and could not stay together. Lawyer’s are working to resolve this illogical and cruel stipulation of the state, which is yet another attempt to further denigrate the activists persecuted with repression.
The Austin-American Statesman is complicit in spinning a false narrative used by the state to repress activists, when claiming that protesters, “held up a sheet to hide” alleged looting. In fact, the protesters held up a banner, commonplace at every demonstration, which denounced the business for financing police surveillance. The ruling class media, partisan to the police, has not bothered to fact check or investigate matters and instead is eager to criminalize activists. The corporate media outlets have typically failed to even mention the political reasons the protests took place, choosing instead to protect Target’s tainted image.
The ruling class media has also attempted to target other active mass organizations, with many claiming the three arrested are members of housing struggle organization, Defend Our Hoodz. In a statement provided to Tribune, Defend Our Hoodz said:
Defend Our Hoodz stands in solidarity with all protesters who have been arrested while demanding justice for Mike Ramos and George Floyd. Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore and an APD investigator have claimed that 3 people arrested for a protest at Target in solidarity with the Minneapolis protests are members of DOH. This is false. No DOH members have been arrested during the weeks of protests. However, we support people’s rebellion and encourage supporters to donate generously to legal funds for those arrested and medical funds for those injured by police during the protests. Mike Ramos was murdered in Riverside where we’ve been organizing for years. We want to see justice served and stand resolutely with those who police are targeting in an attempt to quell the justified rebellion of the people of Austin.
Protests have gone far beyond their initial catalysts, they are not limited to exclusively focusing on the brutal and inhuman murder of George Floyd or Mike Ramos, the people on the streets know well that this is about them too, about the fact that the US imperialist system is a racist, unjust oppressive system, and more so that it cannot be reformed.
These views are extremely offensive to the ruling class, who have been waging a dual strategy. On the one hand they vow to ban rubber bullets, while at the same time systematically targeting “radicals” with trumped up charges, putting the entire community at risk with unsanitary conditions of their dungeons. Whatever the enemy is serving should be rejected by the people whether it is rubber bullets lodged into the skulls of teenagers or the sugar coated ones that target ‘hearts and minds.’ Both are intended to kill the protest movement.
The campaign against “ANTIFA” exposes how it has become a meaningless, catchall term to label anyone expressing anger or militancy. The ruling class media, the District Attorney, and the police offer no evidence or proof that any of the arrested actually have any connection to organized anti-fascist action. Just opposing racism is enough to earn the label.
For the ruling class media, they must prop up largely inactive forces that offer capitulation to the police, while assisting the police in criminalizing activists.
Tribune encourages our readers to support the legal funds for these activists and any other protesters who the state will be targeting at the following link: https://gogetfunding.com/help-austin-georgefloyd-protesters-facing-state-repression/
Update 06/09: Tribune added a comment from Defend Our Hoodz regarding the bourgeois media’s claims that the three arrested are members of their organization.