On the Reactionary Tactics and the Protest Movement for Black Lives

By the Editorial Board

Cars as Weapons against Crowds

The formal tombstone for the alt-right movement was engraved when neo-Nazi James Alex Fields plowed his car into a demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia. The almost universally-reviled Fields was subsequently convicted and given multiple life sentences. Even many on the far right denounced him, or so it would seem.

In reality, Fields was a pioneer for reactionaries. To them, he is a hero, but bad optics prevent them from claiming him outright. This limitation notwithstanding, his tactics have lived on. While reactionaries did not agree with the way in which Fields and his few supporters propagandized the action, they have confirmed it, and repeated it more than 75 times, showing only slightly more restraint. This restraint is for the sake of propaganda, so that the reactionaries can claim self-defense. What is more, they are not simply ramming cars into crowds of protesters, they are arming themselves and driving into crowds to then use arms to kill demonstrators with varying degrees of success, and the state is sanctioning their tactics.

Last week, US imperialist Army Sergeant Daniel Perry became a right-wing celebrity when he drove his black sedan into a crowd in Austin, Texas before murdering Garrett Foster in cold blood. Before that, two armed drivers had tried the same almost a month earlier. There have also been fatalities from car attacks in Seattle and Bakersfield. Tuesday night in Portland, a reactionary attempted to ram a crowd of protesters outside the police union office, only to be prevented by a protester on a motorcycle. The motorcycle was dragged by the truck as he continued trying to ram the crowd, before fleeing his damaged vehicle with rifle in hand. The driver was released without charges, drawing similarities with Perry. Cars have plowed into crowds in New York, Minneapolis, Denver, Wichita, and many other places since the beginning of the May Uprisings.

It is becoming more evident, that in recent cases of reactionaries using this tactic, protesters are firing back, as was the case in Austin, Aurora, and Portland. The desperate acts of the reactionaries to end the protest movement have forced some protesters to adopt a nascent level of militarization. Camouflage fatigues, body armor, and rifles have all become visible in the movement. This is a necessity.

High profile analysts who monitor ‘terrorism’ have spoken of a probable “street war.” Embattled and exhausted police departments around the country are not only relying on state and federal reserve troops, but a corps of civilian reactionaries. Their failure to seek charges against these reactionaries, their double standard with crowd control tactics, their nods of approval, handshakes, and smiles along with clearer endorsements, as well as fabricated rumors of ‘antifa snipers’ only serve to deputize the civilian reactionaries in essence.

In order to combat this trend, the question of protest militarization needs to be weighed, measured, and discussed. Discourse with the police is the refuge of traitors and scoundrels only. The protesters must begin talking among themselves, and not leave the spontaneous militarization to the whims of individual volunteerism, the likes of which have resulted in an anemic ‘antifa’ and anarchist movement. The ideology and practice of revolution must be asserted.

Likewise, talk of defunding the police is a mere limitation imposed upon the movement, and abolition of the police is an impossibility when considering that the state exists to protect the interests of one class at the expense of others. Overthrowing the police, and the entire capitalist system, needs to be inserted at all opportunities as the most important discussion item. Defense of protests requires organization and self-sacrifice. The hard truth is that laws do not protect protesters, and when facing near-life sentences for protesting, protesters are being forced to make big sacrifices for the greater movement. The state and its supporters aim to kill and incarcerate the movement, giving protesters less to lose in the face of violent confrontation. Either the protest movement breaks or it begins to break the enemy.

Fifth Column Tactics in Use by Fascists

On May 29, the day before the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis would explode across the US to become the May Uprisings, a ‘Boogaloo Boy’ and elite Air Force sergeant, 32 year old Steven Carrillo, carried out a drive-by shooting on federal agents in Oakland, California. This would lead to an eight-day manhunt in which Carillo would ambush police and kill another officer. For the far-right and fascist movements, killing police is par for the course, this case only stands out because the federal agent killed by Carrillo was deployed against the protest movement for Black lives, and the killing took place during a protest.

This might leave some anti-police militants scratching their heads, confused as to why a far-right terrorist would eliminate a target who was there to oppress and brutalize the people when the far-right so often supports the police doing just this. That is the kind of confusion the fascists of the ‘Boogaloo’ variety are betting on, in order to run the long con—what historians and revolutionaries call a fifth column.

The ‘Boogaloo’ movement plans on setting a lot of little Reichstag fires, and to do this they are snuggling up to the left; leftists beware or be damned. Their goal is a second civil war, and not one between classes. Their strategy to accomplish this is accelerationism. A fifth column is a tried-and-true fascist tactic dating back to the Spanish Civil War, in which fascist agents were embedded in the republican centers, waiting to go off at any moment.

The ‘Boogaloo’ tactics are being used for similar ends. On the one hand they seek to destabilize the protest movement, to get it labeled ‘criminal’ and ‘terrorist,’ to carry out actions of an adventurist character which the people are not prepared to take on and cannot withstand the repercussions of. On the other hand, they wish to recruit among a mainly left-wing movement into their far-right movement, people who under normal conditions would be totally inaccessible to them. In any case, they are using infiltration and individual terrorism to meet their goals.

On Saturday, August 1, at a solidarity protest for Garrett Foster and Brad Ayala in Austin, armed ‘Boogaloo Boys’ tailed the back-end of the march and were verbally confronted by several demonstrators. Invariably, the members of the far-right group proclaimed innocence, stating that they were the victims of a media slander campaign and that while there were some ‘neo-Nazis’ in their movement, they claimed that the movement itself was against racism and the police.

When asked about Garrett Foster, one of them told a supporter of Tribune of the People that they considered him a hero. The man toting a rifle and sporting a Hawaiian shirt even mustered tears. Later, Tribune would receive copies of redacted briefing materials handed out to their membership, which prompted them on talking points when dealing with the media. The two armed men simply stuck firm to their talking points. The briefing items from leadership to their on-the-ground members were complete with the ‘Boogaloo’ logo of an Igloo in the top left corner.

***Update: Tribune of the People recently received video footage from the day of the Garrett Foster solidarity protest in which APD officers politely greet ‘Boogaloo Boys’ and tell them to “enjoy your first amendment right,” while they brutally arrested women protesters the same weekend simply for holding a banner on the sidewalk. In another shot they huddle around Foster’s memorial and one of them says, “Nobody comes to our city, comes in our country, and disrupts our liberty and our peace.  Whether wearing a shirt like this, whether wearing a badge, whether wearing camo pants, I don’t care.  You come to disrupt the peace, we come to stand in your way.”

This example, along with the supposedly ‘classified document’ from the same “Operation Gridlock” below, demonstrates how the ‘Boogaloo’ movement is made up of a lot of wannabe police, trying to buddy-up to the protest movement while acting as armed peace police. They want to earn the trust of both protesters and police and position themselves as the ‘legitimate’ open-carry security.

Make no mistake, the only peace the ‘Boogaloo Boys’ can offer is peace for the ruling class, they have no place within the protest movement for Black lives and allowing them to encircle a march with arms is extremely dangerous. The people are correct when they chant “No justice, No Peace,” and are correct to reject the false ‘peace’ offered by these far-right servants of the ruling class.***

Due to disorganization, as well as the crisis of leadership caused by the liberalism, anarchism, and individualism emblematic of bourgeois society and especially left protest spaces, no concerted effort was made to evict the far-right that has openly insisted that the unrest of the people be used to start the ‘second civil war’ which they call a ‘boogaloo.’ A civil war of a fascist character with no revolutionary or progressive aspects.

It is simple, these reactionaries are armed and organized, and can pretend to be whatever they want, and unless better organized people who are also armed evict them, they can march wherever they want. While other armed fascist militias like the Proud Boy’s (who in this case functioned as a militia) and Three Percenters milled about in packs throughout the night, they stood outside of the march mainly in clear opposition to it, the ‘Boogaloos’ were there to feign friendship and taint the name of Garret Foster with false tears and kind words. The solidarity of fascists must never be welcomed, it is without a doubt only lies, and an attempt to win favor in the protest movement so they can increase state repression and hasten their ‘civil war.’

The danger posed by such forces is significant, but not because they would actually incite a civil war. A class-based civil war is, in fact, what revolutionaries want, but the ‘Boogaloo Boys’ want war without mass participation and against the interests of the most oppressed. They want a fascist war between factions of the ruling class that does not abolish capitalist relations, but makes them more terroristic and anti-democratic. Like the Nazi’s before them, they will traffic in the struggles of the people and even pretend to stand for the worker when it suits them.

The real danger posed by ‘Boogaloos’ is the escalation of violence at precise moments where it would be harmful to the interests of the protest movement and the struggle for Black lives specifically. While the ‘Boogaloo’ movement is eclectic enough (like fascism often is) to never clearly state what this ‘civil war’ will be about, usually citing government overreach and other typical right-wing talking points, there is a reason neo-Nazis join it, and a reason its members are attacking federal police with drive-by shootings at protests for Black lives. This is not because they are interested in the total liberation of Black people or a society which prizes social need and equality above all else. They are virulently anti-communist, anti-socialist, and reactionary.

On Wednesday, August 5, at a memorial for Garrett Foster held in San Antonio, just an hour and a half away from Austin, the ‘Boogaloo Boys’ raised their heads once more, this time to peddle the vile slander that comrade Garrett Foster was one of them, in the process of joining. This was met by a rejection from the crowd and was denounced in speeches; the fascist tried to interject but was drowned out. Before the fascist could be ejected, liberals in the crowd insisted that “it was not the time” or place to confront them, in effect conciliating with fascist propaganda and lies in order to maintain a facade of respectability. This only served to dishonor the memory of Foster and others like him who have died fighting the very system which fascism hopes to make even more abhorrent.

This maneuver on the part of the ‘Boogaloo’ is particularly disgusting and nefarious. They want to link him to their reputation, that of individual right-wing terrorism. This objectively serves the interests of the police narrative that Garrett was a menace and the right wing reactionary Daniel Perry was only acting in self-defense, all of which are lies and everyone knows it. Such reckless and unfounded claims offer ammunition to all those who wish to protect Perry and demonize Foster. It would only have been correct to eject the fascist from the vigil.

The ‘alt-right’ (where the ‘Boogaloo’ boys come from) relied upon getting hip haircuts, dressing as professionals, and distancing themselves from the old neo-Nazi ‘skinhead’ look while preserving the exact same views and goals. The “Boogaloo” are refining this, presenting themselves as neither left nor right, open to anyone and tragically misreported by the media, which is out to get them. Many are susceptible to this smoke screen since the ruling class-owned media often misrepresents them too. Fascists have always done this though; they commit crimes, blame them on others, and then use it as an excuse to get rid of what remaining democratic rights the people have left. Keeping these vermin out of the protest movement is a matter of both community service and self-defense.

Regardless of their rhetoric, the ‘Boogaloo’ movement is fascist, and it is diametrically opposed to the interests of the struggle for Black lives, to the democratic interests of the people, and the people’s need for socialist revolution. They are enemies of the people, as much as the police and government are, and they should be treated as such.

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