By the Editorial Board
The Joint Task force between the Austin Police Department and FBI has begun singling out, tracking, and arresting protesters believed to be associated with a protest against the corporation Target. So far three people have been arrested and charged with trumped-up felonies for “participation in a riot” and “burglary of a building.”
The first felony arrest was carried out tactically against a young Black mother, who received both of the above mentioned charges. She had only livestreamed the protest without entering the building or carrying out any physical act that could be considered rioting. She was targeted by the state who immediately began labeling her “Antifa” in an attempt to criminalize her reporting and the movement for Black lives. She has no previous convictions and is being persecuted because the state fears the voices of Black women who stand for the people and believe that revolution is necessary.
Two more protesters were apprehended by the state and charged almost identically. In no case has the state even attempted to articulate an actual criminal act, just that they were believed to be at the protest and were “known members of Antifa.” This is not a crime, and neither of the others have any record of ever being convicted of a crime associated with the broad and nebulous ‘Antifa’ movement.
The state agencies attempt, with broad strokes, to label anyone who ideologically opposes fascism or racism as a member of ‘Antifa’ because it dreams of making dissent illegal. While none of the Three deny being opposed to fascism (who would!) they do not identify with organized groups owning the name “Antifa” and have no involvement with such groups. This label was a police invention placed on community activists and independent journalists to smear them in the press and cause an increase in bond amounts with stricter conditions in the short term. In the long term its purpose is to taint potential jury pools so the fraudulent charges can stick on nothing but the basis of right-wing fears and insecurities.
The case of the Targeted Three has become local and national news, having been reported in the New York Times. The Three are the only cases in the US where police affidavits claim, without any basis in fact, that there were “Antifa members” arrested, making it a spearhead in enacting Donald Trump’s fantasy of ‘Antifa’ provocateurs. This fact makes rallying support and awareness around this case paramount. If the state is able to railroad those covering protests and those participating in them as “Antifa rioters and burglars” then they will surely escalate this tactic. Anyone who protests, anyone who films a protest can then be viewed as an “extremist” or “terrorist,” to use the state’s words, and anyone who is not a fascist boot licker can then be deemed criminals and labeled ‘Antifa.’
The protest which the Three are said to have attended was not an “antifascist action.” It was a protest to demand that the corporate retailer Target stop financing anti-Black police surveillance in Minneapolis and across the US. There was no visible iconography, and no chants associated with the antifascist movement.
Neo-McCarthyism: the new Red Scare as an attempt to stop anti-police and anti-racist activism
‘Antifa’ is an umbrella term which is loosely derived from Antifascist Action, a pre-fascist German organization banned by Adolf Hitler in 1933. Talks from the ultra-reactionary President Donald Trump of banning the contemporary “Antifa” still stink of Hitlerism. Since the conclusion of the original Antifascist Action, the name has been used by a diverse group of movements, organizations, and individuals, mainly of the anarchist variety, who do not maintain a cohesive ideology or organizational structure. It is not used to describe the original organization led and supported by the Communist Party of Germany. The term is most often used to describe anyone in opposition to fascism, who use a variety of methods and tactics. The current name has no association with the original use, but the underlying reasons for wanting to ban it are the same as Hitler’s.
In times of economic crisis and major upheaval the state becomes desperate to scapegoat the anger of the people onto what they call “fringe groups.” During WWI they used the Palmer Raids, and following this the McCarthy hearings with the House of Un-American Activities Committee and the Red Scare Trials. In the 1960’s the authorities used Counter Intelligence and COINTELPRO to disrupt the people’s movements, with a clear focus on destroying Black and pro-people organizations.
Red Baiting, labeling activists as anarchists or Communists to discredit their political views out of hand is nothing new. It is part of the US imperialist’s legacy of oppression and social engineering. All of the above serves to preserve the old, racist, and unequal order. The state attempts to convince everyone that it is only a small group of people who are fed up, and even the corporate media is having difficulty maintaining this ruse, with many journalists exposing the fact that it is a sham, and that the mass uprisings are not an “Antifa plot” to sow discord, but genuine unrest due to a 400-plus year long history of bloody racist oppression.
While favoring communism, anarchism, or identifying with the label ‘Antifa,’ is not in of itself a crime, the courts and the police use these views and affiliations to increase bond amounts and penalties for those on trial, and at the same time prevent them from receiving a fair trial. And they will not refrain from labeling those who do not hold such principles as ‘Antifa,’ anarchist, communist etc. without any substantial evidence, it is enough for a cop to say that he knows someone is such a thing, and this is largely uncontested by the courts and media. Making it essential to rally to the defense of those who are labeled, while declaring loudly that making revolution is no crime. When the state seeks to make a mindset illegal no one who opposes injustice is safe.
While the state has gone to great lengths to label the people’s activists as dangerous radicals, they have done almost nothing to prevent the movement of actual fascists who today use violent terrorism against demonstrators and other oppressed peoples. The right-wing and fascist movements maintain close links with the police and have significant overlap. This is not the case for the people’s activists on the left: one side seeks to preserve an unequal, decaying, and backward system, while the other seeks to change it. This is the dividing line between the left and the right.
District Attorney Margaret Moore, Trump’s Accomplice
Moore, the District Attorney for Travis County and a Democrat, moved immediately to place charges on the Three, while displaying absolute sluggishness to call for a Grand Jury against APD officers Christopher Taylor and Mitchell Pieper who murdered unarmed Black-Latino man Mike Ramos. Before this she made no efforts at all to get the body camera footage of APD officers on the scene of the murder of unarmed Black man Javier Ambler, who was brutally murdered in front of television cameras in her jurisdiction. So much time has gone by that those complicit have destroyed the footage. Moore has only been forced to begin moving ever so slightly against the police due to the mass rebellions that rocked the city of Austin at the end of May and the successive large rallies that followed.
Where was the urgency when it came to getting justice for Black people against the police? The system’s racism is on full display when Moore wasted no time propping up the police and FBI with rapidly moving on the arrest of a Black mother, who did nothing but film, as well as the other two community activists which the state seeks to crucify.
According to one of the attorneys of the accused, the accusations are “a transparent, incendiary attempt to distract from the problems plaguing our society—systemic racism and state sponsored murder.” He told the Houston Chronicle, “every time these accusations are repeated, they lend credence to the dangerous allegation that anyone committed to a world where people have more value than property is a terrorist.”
The aims of the reactionaries are clear; to criminalize the mass movement, neutralize the voices of strong black women, and any one who rises against racism. This must be energetically opposed by all who believe that a better world is possible.
What You Can Do
All comrades in the struggle, no matter their views or disagreements must come to the aid and support of the Targeted Three in Austin, Texas. There is always something anyone can do to help out. Organize solidarity actions, presenting the slogan “Defend Austin’s Targeted Three,” carry out solidarity protests outside of the District Attorney offices. Attend all court dates and any events in support of the Targeted Three. Support and volunteer with legal aid groups, mutual aid organizations, and field medics. Support the National Lawyers Guild and others who are stepping up to help stop the witch hunts.
Those who cannot attend protests or take direct action can still do their part, spread support far and wide on all social media and online platforms, speak up in defense of the Three, share this article and others. Donate to the defense funds of those arrested, and especially to the legal support of the Three. Share donation links far and wide. Demand that all charges are dropped against the Three and the approximately 10,000 other arrests made of activists and protesters in the mass movement. When the state arrests anyone for standing up for Black lives they are attempting to crush the struggle and continue their racist, oppressive business as usual. Document and report fascist and racist threats against protesters and specifically against the Three, email evidence to Tribuneofthepeople@protonmail.com and we will forward it to legal supporters.
Most importantly, defend and uphold the movement for Black lives, including all those on the ground who take great risks by speaking up against the reactionary state. Stay updated on the current events and the state’s attempts to divide and end the mass struggle. Challenge all official and civilian attempts at red baiting or reckless labeling of individuals or groups. Make it clear that it is the police and the system which are responsible and at fault and not those who have taken up the struggles for a better world. Side with the people! Supporters and lawyers have secured the release of the Three but with the long legal battle ahead they still need your support.
PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD, DEFEND AUSTIN’S TARGETED THREE!
DO NOT ALLOW POLITICAL VIEWS TO BE THE BASIS FOR FRAMING ACTIVISTS!
THE TARGETED THREE ARE INNOCENT OF ALL CHARGES!
MAKING REVOLUTION IS NO CRIME!
IT IS RIGHT TO REBEL!
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/