By David Martinez
The heightened presence of federal officers in Portland, which has been decried by people across the US, was answered on July 25 with nationwide solidarity protests. Many of these became rebellious demonstrations that matched the spirit of the Portlanders who have combated the brutal federal invasion of their city with daily protest and organized militant action. At the solidarity march in Austin, reactionary military Sergeant Daniel Perry gunned down Garrett Foster, who was protecting the march and his fiancée.
On July 29, in the days following the solidarity protests, it was reported that the imported federal agents would begin to withdraw from Portland, with the stipulation that the city must fulfill the security role to protect the federal courthouse which has been the site of ongoing clashes. While their withdrawal is not yet a reality, the announcement is a victory for the people who have forced Trump’s administration to temporarily concede to the popular rage against his escalations towards fascism. Militant protest and nationwide solidarity have put the imperialist state on its heels.
In Atlanta, the people displayed fearless coordination against federal targets such as the local offices of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), echoing previous actions against the Georgia Highway Patrol building. Numerous windows were broken, fireworks left scorch marks across the building facade, and barricades were erected in nearby streets.
A statement was sent to local news that claimed credit, writing, “In solidarity with Portland last night, a crowd gathered in Atlanta outside the DHS/ICE office. These agencies are directly responsible for ruining untold numbers of lives, and for the violent policing of the Portland protests […] What the police produce, above all, are their own grave-diggers.”
Seattle, quieter since the shutdown of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), reignited in militant protest in solidarity with Portland and after a team of Tactical Border Officers (BORTAC) were sent to the city. Video of demonstrations shows protesters moving with lines of shields and advancing on police, who retreated at times. The construction site for a new youth detention facility was also set on fire. The BORTAC agents have reportedly withdrawn from the city as of Wednesday.
In Manhattan, protesters set fire to trash cans and smashed the windows of police vans, tagging them with anti-police graffiti.
The Portland solidarity protest in Austin was the scene of Daniel Perry’s cowardly attack on protesters. After plowing directly into the march, he shot and killed Garret Foster, who died defending the march and his wife, Whitney Mitchell, a quadriplegic Black woman for whom Garrett was the full-time caretaker. An armed street medic fired back at the driver, potentially saving even more lives.
Aurora was also the scene of a vehicle assault, although without a fatality. One protester was injured as she jumped out of the way of a blue-green jeep that sped into the crowd. More were injured by gunfire when one of the protesters who was open carrying shot at the vehicle. Despite the driver’s attempts to murder protesters, the march continued to the courthouse, where fires were set and windows were broken.
In Oakland, the front entrance of the Alameda County courthouse was set on fire. Protesters also smashed the windows of a police precinct.
Less militant actions still brought the people’s anger directly to the federal officials responsible for the deployments across the US. Some of the Washington DC neighbors of DHS Secretary Chad Wolf organized an action outside of his home.
“We will not be ‘good Germans’” said one of the protesters. “We will not be the people who sat by and watched our neighbors commit these atrocities.” The neighbors also chanted, “How do you spell fascist? DHS!”
Providence held a solidarity protest in which protesters showed defiant bravery against police intimidation. Video shows police accelerating their vehicles towards a line of protesters with their arms linked. The police vehicles play chicken, speeding up and braking in front of the line, but the protesters don’t budge, and instead sat down in a line in front of the cars. While increasing their vulnerability, the protesters’ courage is undeniable.
Solidarity for Portland was evident even in smaller, less urban communities, such as Omaha, Nebraska, where protesters marched with a defaced ‘Back the Blue’ banner at the front. Police arrested 120 protesters after they overtook a highway, overcrowding the capacity of the county jail and facilitating the possible spread of coronavirus. The move has been decried by legal advocates who called it police overreaction.
The imperialist state understands the persisting movement for Black lives and against the police as a serious threat to its long-term stability and particularly fears the growing unity among the people and their militant resistance.
In the face of military-equipped federal agents, extralegal kidnapping of protesters, and the fatal threats of reactionaries, the people have shown they will not back down. Each attack of the imperialists is returned with increased resistance, the people fighting back with fury and flames.