Repression and Resistance: Week in Protest, October 23-29

“Repression and Resistance” is a column from Tribune of the People that highlights rebellions and repression happening in protests across the US each week. If you want us to cover a protest happening in your city, please send us a pitch.

National

Law enforcement agencies around the country are bracing for the anticipated protests on Election Day (November 3) next week. The ramping up of police presence in large cities is being done under the pretense of ‘protecting voters,’ but the intended effect is to reinforce elections as a low-level form of counterinsurgency against mass rebellion of the working class (who mostly don’t vote) as well as to crack down harder on the protests for Black lives which have rocked the country since the May Uprisings.

The police are fooling few when they say that they will go out of their way to confront rightwing reactionaries and fascists, the main perpetrators of voter suppression, when police departments have a well-documented history of being lenient on these types, not to mention recruiting them.

The only explanation is that US imperialism, through its police force, is enforcing an unwritten law that declares boycotting the election illegal. Abstaining from voting alone is permissible, but working people uniting together to reject the electoral system, along with the unequal class society it legitimizes, is not.

Philadelphia, PA

West Philadelphia has exploded with people’s rage this week after the police murder of Walter Wallace Jr. Read our full coverage here.

Portland, OR

At an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in South Portland this week, protesters took on federal agents who fired tear gas at the crowd in an attempt to defend the building. ICE has been the target of protests in Oregon for months, as it is despised for its role in terrorizing immigrants and breaking up families. A court filing earlier this month revealed that the parents of hundreds of immigrant children, separated by the 2017 Trump pilot program, could not be located.

District of Columbia

Protests have been raging in Washington DC this week after Karon Hylton was killed by a motorist after being chased into the street by a DC police officer. On Tuesday night, windows of the police precinct were smashed and police vehicles damaged. Multiple officers were injured by projectiles.

On Wednesday night, during a standoff between police and protesters, a firework was detonated above the police line, sparking a clash.

Charlotte, NC

This past Sunday, protests in solidarity with the international ‘End SARS’ movement continued in uptown Charlotte.  Over 50 people gathered to protest the recent murders of civilians by the Nigerian military.  Nigerian President Buhari blamed the violence on “hooliganism,” the same way protesters in the US have been criminalized for fighting for Black Lives.  Several of the speakers at the protest identified this as a tactic to weaken the movement and said that there was only “one Nigeria.”

Chicago, IL

This week, Alderman Nicholas Sposato at a Chicago City Council hearing referred to protesters as “savages” for demanding the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park this summer.

One of the protesters targeted by these racist remarks was teenager Miracle Boyd, whose teeth were punched out by a police officer ‘defending’ the statue. Miracle had bravely returned to the site with others days later to continue demanding that the statue of the genocidal colonizer be taken down. In July the City conceded and evacuated the statue in the middle of the night.

Bend, OR

Police announced charges against seven individuals this week who were involved in a brawl between attendees of a Trump Rally and a Black Lives Matter picnic at the beginning of the month. The conflict between the two groups began when someone snatched a Trump flag off a truck.

The organizer of the reactionary rally, Nicholas Dieringer, had intentionally moved the location to disrupt the activist event. What was supposed to be an ambush turned into a back and forth of mace and punches, both sides being fairly disorganized.

As the outcome of the election promises to embolden the far right, those on the left must take security more seriously and be prepared to collectively defend themselves against these kind of attacks.

Bellevue, WA

Bellevue police invoked a state of emergency ahead of a protest last weekend which banned anything that could be used as a weapon. It was the first time such a declaration had been made since the May Uprisings.

The protest turned out to be relatively tame, making the police appear to have overreacted. To justify their escalated repression, the police posted a strange photo of sticks and rocks to their social media, claiming that they had been discovered along the “protest route.”

This staged photo is another attempt by police to criminalize the movement for Black lives as part of its oppression of the working class in general. Police Chief Steve Mylett made it clear in his comments to the bourgeois press that this “emergency” was called to protect private property, out of fear of a repeat of the expropriation of businesses in May.

Scarborough, ME

The Scarborough Public Schools District sent out a memo this week reminding staff not to wear clothing or display signs with any controversial phrases in the lead up to the election, and as an example it listed “Black Lives Matter.” Students from Scarborough High School organized a protest in response.

Photo from WMTW

Omaha, NE

The Omaha police department released a 78 page report this week on the 10 days following the May Uprisings and concluded that they needed more equipment and more funding to better handle future uprisings. Police chief Todd Schmaderer blamed protesters for initiating any violence during this period of time, and that the police were simply trying “to protect the city.”

The police protect private property, and they will paint protesters as violent extremists to load their arsenal with more weapons to turn on the people. Omitted from the report was the case of Officer Gentile, who shot a protester with a pepperball gun in the genital area and bragged about it later.

Omaha police fire pepperballs at crowd during the May Uprising (photo by Omaha World-Herald)

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