Repression and Resistance: Week in Protest, November 13-19

Cover photo of bloody Trump supporter at “Million MAGA March” by Jacquelyn Martin

“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

Many of the cases for protesters arrested since the May Uprisings have started court proceedings this month, and thousands of charges have been dropped. This good news has been overshadowed by intensified persecution of so-called ‘violent’ protesters, who federal and state prosecutors have continued to scapegoat for this year’s mass rebellion against the racist and inherently unequal society of US imperialism.

Over 14,000 protesters who participated in the nationwide movement for Black Lives have been arrested, with many being first-time protesters. The scale of this year’s uprising surpassed even the first wave of the Black Lives Matter movement several years ago, with every corner of the country seeing outrage at the ongoing oppression of Black people in the US.

The restraint shown by prosecutors is not out of the goodness of their hearts, but mainly because the bourgeois legal system is already overwhelmed due to coronavirus lockdowns postponing other cases. Even if there wasn’t a backlog, the premises for many of these arrests are flimsy at best.

One notable example is in Portsmouth, Virginia, where police chief Angela Greene was fired this Monday at the same time that charges against protesters, who had allegedly defaced a confederate statue, were dropped. Charges were also dropped this week against protesters in Louisville who had taken to the streets in response to a grand jury’s failure to indict any police officer for the murder of Breonna Taylor.

On the other hand, protesters who are facing charges related to property damage or other acts of ‘violence’ are being increasingly singled out by the state. In Denver, local monopoly press media recently published investigative reports in an effort to criminalize protesters in line with state prosecutions. As one defense attorney pointed out, police have shamelessly targeted protesters for consistently demonstrating in the streets.

In Portland, opportunists are coming out of the woodwork to distance themselves from ‘violent’ protesters to safeguard their own sell-out careers. “When people set fire to a building, it really does not liberate me one bit,” the recently elected councilmember Mingus Mapps recently told the monopoly press. “It does the opposite. It fuels the political culture that makes racism possible.”

Mapps has it backwards. It is the criminalizing of protesters who are fighting for Black Lives that reinforces the imperialist state that serves as the foundation for racism in the US. Now that the spontaneous uprising has faded, it is a time for progressives and revolutionaries to band together and unequivocally defend all protesters, not side with the state in persecuting them. To regurgitate the state narrative that the mass rebellion in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd is to lie to the people and obscure the slogan that united the movement from the beginning: “No justice, no peace!”

District of Columbia

Over the weekend, the “Million MAGA March” of Trump supporters confronted a large counterprotest, and several fights broke out between the two sides. The fascist Proud Boys instigated a skirmish at 10th Street and New York Avenue NW where one man was stabbed and hospitalized with serious injuries. Counterprotesters also surrounded a small group of Trump supporters at a restaurant where fireworks were set off.

Trump supporters also tore down anti-racist and anti-police signs that had been hung up on what has become known as “Black Lives Matter Plaza” at 16th Street between K and H streets Northwest. Some counterprotesters defended the signs. Around two dozen in total were arrested.

Salt Lake City, UT

Utah State Representative Jon Hawkins proposed a bill this week that would give motorists greater leeway to assault protesters. Reactionaries (including police) have injured and killed multiple protesters this year by driving their vehicles into marches for Black Lives, including in Seattle and Austin. In numerous cases, protesters have defended themselves and fired shots at drivers.

State politicians, like Hawkins and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, draft bills like these to cater to the most backward sections of the people for their electoral campaigns but the state also relies on vigilante reactionaries to do its dirty work.

Video still of when a driver attempted to drive through a June protest in Provo, UT and was shot at and injured in response. (Photo by KSLTV)

Ontario, CA

This week a National Guard armory outside of Los Angeles was broken into, and various riot gear was taken including shields, batons, and armor. It is unknown who expropriated the equipment, but they broke through a chain-link fence to get to the storage unit.

Police use riot gear against protesters in May in Los Angeles (Photo by Mark J. Terrill)

Waukegan, IL

Kyle Rittenhouse, who murdered two protesters this summer in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, claimed self-defense in an interview with the press monopoly this week. He was also charged with attempted homicide for injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, and his bond was set at $2 million earlier this month.

John Huber, the father of Anthony Huber who Rittenhouse killed, has previously condemned Rittenhouse’s self-defense argument. “[Rittenhouse] had already killed a guy and tried to run. My son was a hero. He tried to stop him. He was a hero. Anyone who says otherwise is dead wrong.”

Scene from Kenosha protest after police shooting of Jacob Blake (Photo by Brendan Mcdermid)

Asheville, NC

The Asheville Police Department is facing a slew of a new complaints related to incidents of police brutality over the summer, and has denied local media requests for specifics around the filings. Many of those who submitted complaints did so anonymously out of fear of retaliation.

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