Cover photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez
“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.
As law enforcement agencies feared, widespread protests have swept the country following election day on November 3, the results of which for the presidential race are still unclear as of this posting. The liberal and conservative camps of the bourgeoisie were ready for this unrest and ramped up their counterinsurgency schemes to divert rebellion down the dead-end road of elections.
Democrats and their allies have pushed the “count every vote” slogan at protests this week, which is also the name of a campaign organized by nonprofit Issue One, an organization run by various former politicians and corporate executives. In its mission statement, the campaign website lists patience, peace, and patriotism as its core principles. The slogan is meant to counter the efforts of US President Donald Trump to stop the tallying of votes in the battleground states.
On the other side, Amy Kremer, one of the co-founders of Women for Trump, started the Facebook group “STOP THE STEAL,” which got over 300,000 users to join before it was shut down. Even with the social media platform discontinued, pro-Trump protesters in Arizona and Nevada among other places have chanted the slogan outside vote counting centers.
While each side accuses the other of foul play, in effect they are both serving US imperialism by treating the electoral system as the bastion of “democracy” which must be defended. The majority of working people who don’t vote know that US democracy is bankrupt, but those taking to the streets demanding real change are preyed upon by sell-out opportunists like “progressive” Rashida Tlaib, who made a speech at protest on Wednesday in Detroit where she spread the lie that voting is how people should struggle against inequality. No matter what bourgeois politicians say, voting rubberstamps inequality, because every vote is a validation of US imperialism and the oppression and exploitation inherent to it.
Revisionist organizations, like Refuse Facism and National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, have also come out of the woodwork and played into the hands of their Democrat masters by luring the more combative elements of marches under the banner of “count every vote” with phony “socialist” language.
The press monopoly has also played its role by inaccurately covering protests for Black Lives or against Confederate monuments this week as “pro-voting” affairs.
Despite the bourgeoisie doing its best to tame the protests with electoral slogans, there were still many instances of rebellion among the people this week as well as state repression. Police departments continue to post photos of “discovered” weapons and describe those arrested as “violent” extremist so as to criminalize the protest movement as a whole. The people have not been discouraged by the state’s intimidation and have defiantly applied the slogan “No Justice! No Peace!”
A large protest in the city that sparked the May Uprisings shutdown major streets and highways Wednesday night, including sections of I-94 and I-35W. In response, police kettled and arrested 646 protesters for unlawful assembly and public nuisance. This mass arrest shows the lengths the state is willing to go to cut down democratic expression in the streets in order to uphold the reactionary bourgeois democracy of US elections. It sets a tone of zero tolerance out of fear that there will be another spark that sets off another wave of mass rebellion, because the objective conditions are ripe for it.
For the first time in 50 years, the Oregon National Guard was deployed to Portland to help quell protests downtown on Wednesday. The last time the guard had been dispatched to the city for this purpose was for a protest against the US imperialist war on Vietnam.
The rowdy reputation the Portland protests have earned since the May Uprisings continued this week, with the burning of US flags, police shielding themselves from projectiles, property damage, and prolific anti-police graffiti. At least 12 were arrested.
New York City, NY
The nonprofit-backed chants of “Count Every Vote” were overwhelmed by more militant chants like “Burn the Precinct to the Ground!” on Wednesday night in New York. A Joe Biden campaign sign was set on fire, met with applause from the crowd, and fires were lit on street corners as protesters clashed violently with police.
One officer was spit on at point blank range, and a police chief was allegedly punched in the face as he was attempting to arrest another protester. Over 60 were arrested.
As a protest march through downtown Denver on Wednesday, windows were smashed, fires were set, and anti-police graffiti was spray-painted on walls. The crowd chanted “No borders! No Walls! No USA at all!” Eight were arrested.
Peter Cherry contributed to this section
At an art event on Tuesday called “Gathering & Party: Elections Are for the Rich!”, 30 activists and students gathered in Schenley Plaza at University of Pittsburgh to paint banners and give speeches. The group then marched down Forbes Avenue, chanting “Every four years the ruling class chooses, no matter who wins the working class loses!” At one point a US flag from a Biden campaign table was taken and set on fire.
On Wednesday, there was a rally and march against President Trump at the County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh, which culminated in a break off march which condemned the electoral farce and both candidates as two parts of the same ruling class.
Outrage over the police murder of Walter Wallace, Jr. could still be heard in the streets of Philadelphia this week as a thousand people marched after footage of his final moments was released on Wednesday. The crowd moved from Independence Hall to the Mayor’s office, where they chanted Walter’s name.
Last week, four more protesters were indicted on federal charges related to the torching of police vehicles during the May Uprising, in an obvious move by the state to curb the resurgence of rebellion in the city.
Los Angeles, CA
On Election night, 51 protesters were arrested after train tracks near the Staples center downtown were blocked. The following night at another protest, two journalists were singled out and arrested. “They very clearly just looked for the people with the cameras who are there the most and just grabbed me,” one said. “As I was livestreaming, I saw multiple officers pointing me out.”
In line with the zero tolerance posture taken by other law enforcement agencies around the country, the Seattle Police Department employed a new tactic this week of aggressively attacking anyone at a protest they perceived to be damaging property. Video of arrests shows that the police used this apparent loosening of restraint as an excuse to brutally beat protesters.
A march organized to call for the removal of a local confederate statue (mistakenly reported as a pro-voting march by some bourgeois outlets) was pepper-sprayed and brutalized by police last weekend. Children were among those marching and suffered from the tear gas.
District of Columbia
Court documents obtained by bourgeois news revealed that a protester, involved in clashes of the now infamous police sweep in Lafayette Square ahead of a Trump photo op in front of a nearby church, was arrested on the basis that facial recognition software matched his social media profile picture to video of a police officer being assaulted on that day.
The use of National Capital Region Facial Recognition Investigative Leads System is often not even disclosed to defendants who were identified by it, and a federal study last year found that the algorithm is racist and sexist in that it disproportionately misidentifies Black people, Asian people, and women.
The software is another weapon of surveillance at the disposal of the ruling class, but no amount of advanced technology can save the imperialists from the unstoppable force of the masses as they drive history forward.