Tag Archives: Riot Police

5 Times the National Guard Was Used (& What It Means for the Pipeline Protesters)

By Carey Wedler. Published 9-9-2016 by The Anti-Media

A Maryland Army National Guard Soldier keeps watch in front of City Hall in Baltimore, April 28, 2015. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A Maryland Army National Guard Soldier keeps watch in front of City Hall in Baltimore, April 28, 2015. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple called on the state’s National Guard to contain contentious protests against the Keystone pipeline, which threatens Native lands and water supplies. The decision comes after private security guards unleashed attack dogs on protesters this weekend, sparking further violence authorities predictably blamed on demonstrators.

A summons of National Guard services usually indicates a growing tide of opposition to government policies and the established order. It is almost always accompanied by inordinate numbers of police officers.

Governors often activate National Guard when violence erupts amid tense societal and political rifts. But while calling in troops may be effective at stopping superficial violence (by threatening or using violence), doing so provides a reliable excuse for the authorities to ignore the original reasons for that “unrest.” Continue reading

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New Report Proves US Law Enforcement Preparing for Rioting on a National Scale

By Claire Bernish. Published 4-22-2016 by The Anti-Media

PORTLAND OREGON - NOV 17: Police in Riot Gear Holding the Line in Downtown Portland Oregon during a Occupy Portland protest on the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street November 17 2011

Police in Riot Gear Holding the Line in Downtown Portland Oregon during a Occupy Portland protest on the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street November 17, 2012. Photo: Facebook

Fascism doesn’t often sweep in overnight and take over some hapless nation’s government; rather, it gradually seeps into the cultural fabric — as is quietly taking place all around the globe, evidenced by an upsurge in sales of riot equipment that has gone largely unnoticed.

A new report from analysts with industry research group, Sandler Research, forecasts the Global Riot Control System Market for the next four years — but beyond a burgeoning market to parallel the expanding global police state, it appears world governments are also keenly aware of civilian discontent. Sandler predicts the market will have an annual growth of 3.5 percent, and makes a telling juxtaposition, emphases added, involving the United States: Continue reading

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Hiding in plain sight: the history of the War on Drugs

The War on Drugs was a direct response to the African American uprisings of the 1960s. Its racist and repressive effects continue to be felt today.

By Paul Bermanzohn. Published August 13, 2015, by ROAR.

Photo: A scene of the 1967 Newark Rebellion, by Don Hogan Charles.

Photo: A scene of the 1967 Newark Rebellion, by Don Hogan Charles.

Recent US history, from the 1960s until today, shows the War on Drugs to be a crusade of repression against African American people, incarcerating millions to prevent a renewal of the struggle for freedom.

We need to look at the whole picture of this drug war, not just a fragment or a piece of it. Most writers on this subject either get lost in the details or cannot see past the lie that the US is a “democracy.” In either case they often fail to see the realities of this history, even though the facts are clear. Presenting well-known events in chronological order clarifies the inner connection among these events and brings out their larger significance.

Indeed, placing the history in sequence makes it plain: the Great Migration brought on a Great Rebellion. A vindictive Great Repression was orchestrated to crush the Great Rebellion and prevent its continuation. Masked as the so-called “War on Drugs,” which has swept millions into prisons and jails across the US, the Great Repression has, in effect, punished generations for the “sins” of their ancestors — those who dared to rebel.

This repression is still underway today. Its effects are clearly racial. But, camouflaged as a “War on Drugs,” it has allowed the country’s rulers to appear “colorblind” or race-neutral — as if they are merely enforcing the law.

The Great Migration

In the early 20th century, fleeing the decaying Jim Crow system of agricultural labor in the fields and farms of the South, millions of African Americans moved out, seeking jobs in the military-industrial centers of the North, the mid West and the West. From World War I to the 1960s, millions migrated from virtual chattel slavery in the South to wage slavery in the North. They found little improvement.

Herded into old ghettos, or into quickly-created new ones, they found discrimination, barely habitable housing with a constant threat of dislocation by projects of urban renewal, or “Negro removal.” Giant housing projects, little more than stacks of shacks, were built to house the many migrants. Overcrowded and neglected schools provided poor or non-existent education for their children.

The misery was compounded by relentless police abuse. When Malcolm X spoke of “the so-called Negro out here catching hell,” he was talking about (and to) this group. Malcolm lived this experience and became the spokesman of urban ghetto dwellers. The desperation and outrage experienced by these migrants made explosion inevitable.

The Great Rebellion

Violent repression of civil rights demonstrators seeking basic respect combined with the migrants’ sufferings to ignite a series of mass urban uprisings across the US. These insurrections are generally seen as individual explosions, city by city, but to grasp their cumulative significance we need to see them as a single process: African Americans striving for freedom in racist America. The rebellion was at the heart of the ’60s and drives American politics to this day, even under the nation’s first black president.

These rebellions are generally dismissed as “riots” and their significance erased.

Kenneth Stahl titled his website and book on the Detroit Rebellion of 1967 The Great Rebellion, but I expand the use of this term to include all these uprisings. Virtually all were precipitated by violent police attacks or rumors of such attacks. Since officials often lie, it is impossible to know what exactly happened in every case, but at any rate a large number of uprisings took place across the country: over 300 cities rose up in the ‘60s, according to the best estimates.

The first insurrection, in New York City, was touched off by a police murder. The initial focus of the demonstration, called for by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), was the disappearance of three civil rights workers in Mississippi. However, when in the early morning of July 16, off-duty police Lieutenant Thomas Gilligan killed 15-year-old African American student James Powell, CORE decided to change the focus of their protest to police brutality in Harlem.

The protest was peaceful, but rage at the murder grew into a mass confrontation with police. Bands of looters operated in Harlem’s streets at night. Upheaval soon spread to Bedford Stuyvesant. After the New York City insurrection abated, like a series of aftershocks, smaller uprisings took place throughout the area, in upstate NY, NJ and Pennsylvania.

A year later, on August 11, unrest broke out in Watts, LA. Among the first targets of looters were gun stores — and they made full use of their weapons. For almost a week, people fought the police and army to a standstill. Black and white looters working together led King to state that “this was not a race riot. It was a class riot.” The Situationist International even treated the rebellion as a “revolutionary event,” with looting seen as a rejection of the commodity system, “the first step of a vast, all-embracing struggle.”

In 1966, there were 43 civil disturbances of varying intensity across the nation, including a notable uprising in Chicago, where the Puerto Rican community exploded into a week-long rebellion after a police shooting. On April 4, 1967, King delivered what is probably his most important speech: Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break SilenceThe relevance of this speech is often downplayed, and if mentioned at all, it tends to be portrayed as King’s speech opposing the US war in Vietnam. It was much more.

In the address, King embraced the world revolution saying, “if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.” He called the US government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” and called for an end to “the giant triplets of racism, materialism and economic exploitation.”

The speech galvanized the anti-war movement. Just eleven days later, on April 15, 1967, over 400,00 people marched to the UN to demand an end to the war. It was the first demonstration I ever attended. I vividly remember the excitement in the gathering place, Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, still packed with marchers, when word came that the front of the march, which filled the streets the whole way, had reached the UN over a mile away. The movement’s power continued to grow as the spirit of revolution spread.

In just a few years, the US military began to disintegrate. Eighty percent of soldiers were taking drugs. Combat refusals, naval mutinies and fragging incidents — soldiers shooting their officers — became widespread.

In 1967, over a hundred instances of violent upheaval were recorded. Most notably were the uprisings in Newark, were the violence was sparked by rumors of a black cab driver being killed by police after decades of housing discrimination and massive black unemployment, and the one in the Motor City, Detroit, where 43 people were killed after 12,000 soldiers descended upon the city in an attempt to quell the protests.

The Great Repression

The year ’68 proved to be the watershed. The Rebellion reached its peak and the initiative was seized by the forces of order, who subsequently organized the Great Repression. On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was killed, probably by government assassination. His murder, one year to the day after his revolutionary speech, strikes some as a signal sent by the government to deter people from taking the revolutionary path. If this is so, it did not work. Following King’s murder the largest insurrection occurred. Over 100 cities exploded.

The Holy Week Uprising was the most serious bout of social upheaval in the United States since the Civil War. The largest insurrections took place in Washington, D.C.BaltimoreLouisvilleKansas City, and Chicago — with Baltimore experiencing the most significant political events. The Liberal Republican Governor of Maryland, Spiro T. Agnew, gathered African American community leaders and subjected them to a dressing down for not supporting the US government strongly enough. Seeking to divide and conquer, he said: “I call upon you to publicly repudiate, condemn and reject all black racists. This, so far, you have not been willing to do.”

Agnew’s speech received national headlines and led to his role in the presidential elections later that year, which centered on the urban uprisings of the preceding decade and created the miserable legacy of today. US politicians refined a coded language to conceal their racial motives. The Republican candidate Richard Nixon ran against the liberal Democrat Hubert Humphrey. The civil rights movement drove not only the KKK; it also drove overtly racist language underground. It did not end either.

The election centered on Nixon’s call for “law and order,” a slogan that meant a tough response to insurgents (called “rioters”) and the still popular notion that politicians should be “tough on crime.” Crime, disorder and violence became synonyms for being black.

Nixon eagerly stated to work on a war on drugs before his inauguration. Early in his presidency, he outlined his basic strategy to his chief of staff: “[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

Nixon’s diabolical efforts to develop a War on Drugs along these lines involved the highest officials in the US government, including William Rehnquist, later appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by Reagan. Nixon initiated a war on crime as well as the War on Drugs, setting the pattern for future presidents.

Following in his predecessors’ footsteps, Reagan outdid Nixon in his get-tough-on-crime policies and oversaw the steepest rise in incarceration rates. Bill Clinton signed into law an omnibus crime bill in 1994, increasing capital offenses and the federal “three strikes” provision mandating life sentences for criminals convicted of a violent felony after two or more prior convictions, including drug crimes. He poured over $30 billion into militarizing the nation’s police. His group, the Democratic Leadership Council, brought much of the Democratic Party to embrace coded racial politics in order to win over white voters.

For a new beginning

As a movement to stop violent police repression grows across the nation, some of our current rulers seem to understand that they have a tiger by the tail. The Clinton team has begun to suggest that mass incarceration might end. Clinton, herself, as part of her presidential campaign, called “for a re-evaluation of prison sentences and trust between police and communities.”

The Black Lives Matter movement recognizes that discontent fueled by mass incarceration contributes to the movement to stop police murders. Less well-recognized is that granting the police immunity is itself part of the generalized repression of African Americans. The system of mass incarceration rests on a high degree of police discretion in choosing whom to suspect, interrogate and arrest, and in how to do these things. Restricting the police can hardly be allowed if the police are to continue the overall project of racial repression.

Part of developing a new revolutionary movement is to reclaim our history. The masters keep us enslaved by blinding us to our collective strength. The story of the ‘60s uprisings is one rich in power and agency; this is the reason why the rulers want to erase this period from the collective memory altogether.

At the same time, we must also recognize that the uprisings of the ’60s failed. Despite the vast strength revealed in the Great Rebellion, our enemies were able to use the images of violence and looting to further the divisions in US society and to institute their vengeful repression with at least the passive consent of the “white” majority. Time and again, the mainstream media proved a powerful tool in promoting the image of black and brown people as violent, criminal and dangerous.

It must be acknowledged that widespread looting and violence frightened the “white” majority, making it easier for the rulers to split the people and institute the Great Repression. King’s revolutionary non-violence had a much different effect on the American people. This must be pondered by serious revolutionaries.

Conditions for a new revolutionary movement are gradually maturing. There are growing rebellions seeking a new way of life throughout the world. In the US, an ever-spreading movement affirms the value of black lives as increasing numbers of European-American youth take up the struggle of African Americans as their own. Such a movement may, in time, bring an end to the socially constructed notion of whiteness, eliminating a key pillar of the rulers’ domination.

In the Virginia colony in the 17th century, the masters were horrified to see African and European laborers combine to seek to destroy the system of enslavement. Their response was to create a sharp division in condition between their African and their Europeans slaves. They “invented” the white race to split the laborers and preserve their power — a remarkably effective and durable approach.

Race is a social construct devised and manipulated by our masters to maintain their rule. Only by eliminating class society, which continues to depend on racism, can racism as such be swept away.

Paul Bermanzohn, son of Holocaust survivors, is a retired psychiatrist and lifelong political revolutionary. He was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, in which five of his close comrades were killed. His web site is Survival and Transformation.

This article is an edited version of a talk presented at a meeting of the End the New Jim Crow Action Network, on 14 July 2015 (Bastille Day), Kingston, NY.

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Police Arrest 50 Demonstrators as State of Emergency Declared in Ferguson

Under Moral Monday banner, protesters marking one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death take part in civil disobedience outside Ferguson courthouse

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-10-2015

Protesters blocking I-70 in St, Louis, 8-10-15. Photo via Facebook

Protesters blocking I-70 in St, Louis, 8-10-15. Photo via Facebook

At least 50 people were arrested outside the Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse in Ferguson, Missouri on Monday, where they were demanding the dissolution of the Ferguson Police Department.

Meanwhile, despite mostly peaceful protests marred by an officer-involved shooting overnight that left a teenager in critical condition, the St. Louis County declared a state of emergency for Ferguson on Monday. Demonstrators are marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown, who was killed by white police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014. Continue reading

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Still Occupied?

The Washington Post ran a story on Wednesday, “Occupy Wall Street just won.” With the 2016 Presidential campaign heating up, the article claims Occupy just won because the discussion of the 99% is the center of this election cycle.

Our victory is not new or recent; the media has refused to credit Occupy with the numerous conversations that began with the 2011 Occupy Movement. The public that didn’t pay attention then is realizing that what we were talking about had merit, and maybe they should have listened.

Zuccotti Park, September 18, 2011. Photo by David Shankbone (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Zuccotti Park, September 18, 2011. Photo by David Shankbone (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The media back in 2011 wanted to cover the Occupy story the same way they covered everything: show up, interview 4 to 8 people, shoot some film and head back to the office. They made the story about tents and parks, about homeless hippies and jobless layabouts. Instead of listening to what the real message was, they did the old reliable trick of pleasing the editors by finding the strangest, most unusual person and ask them questions until they can’t answer one with articulation, and that’s what makes the news.

My first visit to Occupy in 2011 was quite different than what the press told me I would find. There were college professors, doctors, lawyers, retired teachers, people from all walks of life. The conversations that were taking place were the most interesting. I wasn’t sure about Monsanto, and I didn’t know much about GMOs. I heard a lot about “People Over Profits,” Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” “Who’s streets? Our streets!,” and a multitude of messages about wages, inequality, discrimination, corporate dominance, women’s rights and yes, even anti-war sentiments.

The heavy-handed response from local police in each encampment then became the focus of any news coverage. Gone were questions about why we were there, what we wanted, and why we felt change was mandatory. Any gaining public support was quickly destroyed with the media showing only the worst, not the good parts, of the fracturing camps. Continue reading

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We Don’t Need “More” Culture!

Image via Facebook.

Image via Facebook.

As world news unfolds daily, one of my alternative news sources interviewed a recent immigrant to the United States. A comment made by this person stays in my mind; “In America, the system is designed to force you to need more: why is it not that you can work hard and have enough?”

They used the example of how they started to save just a few dollars a month, and thought that was part of the dream, until the rent went up and took all of the savings. They worked hard enough to purchase a car – to learn they now had to afford the taxes, plate and title fees, insurance and maintenance.

If you look at the top of any web page, there is almost always a button that says “More.” Television ads have voice-overs that scream “But wait! There’s MORE!” Magazine articles lure you to other content: see “more” on page…” Newspapers move you to other pages and advertisements by making you follow the “More on A18…” just to read an entire article. “More for your dollar” is a familiar line in grocery market ads. New packaging tells us a product is “now with more…” whatever the ingredient-of-the-month club is touting.

Isn’t this the design of a system that got us into this mess in the first place? We were told we needed “more” house. We were told it was easy to get “more” credit. We could ask our lenders for “more” financing. And while we were doing this, they all recognized it really meant “MORE” for them. Continue reading

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Bold Step or Quick Fix? Obama to Restrict Military Hardware for Local Cops

Announcement of new initiative follows nine months of community uprisings over racism, police violence, and the militarization of local law enforcement

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published May 18, 2015

Many of the specific proposals Obama will talk about on Monday are taken from a White House-commissioned panel, the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which issued a lengthy report in December on a variety law enforcement and community strategies designed to decrease the incidents of police brutality while making communities safer. (Photo: White House)

In response to long-held—and increasingly elevated—criticisms of the way predominantly poor neighborhoods and communities of color have been treated by law enforcement, President Barack Obama on Monday will announce a series of federal initiatives that will include new restrictions on the kinds of military-grade equipment made available to local police departments.

Though welcomed by many as a bold step, others question whether the new rules amount to little more than a “quick fix” that does too little to address the trend towards increasingly militarized police forces across the country. Continue reading

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Protests in Algeria intensify as shale-gas drilling continues

The ongoing anti-shale gas protests in southern Algeria look increasingly like a head-to-head confrontation between the Algerian government and a well-organised, conscious population.

Algerians protest shale gas drilling, tensions build as government ignores them. Image via Twitter.

Algerians protest shale gas drilling, tensions build as government ignores them. Image via Twitter.

By RACHIDA LAMRI , Published 02-13-15 in OpenDemocracy

Despite the ongoing anti-shale gas protests in the province of Ain Salah in the great Algerian south, the Algerian government is pressing ahead with its shale gas development plans, according to Mr. Said Sahnoun, head of state-owned oil company Sonatrach.

Continue reading

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Fare Thee Not So Well

The US media has been almost entirely focused on the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris and the subsequent manhunt. Flashy and bloody stories, especially those which support the idea of militarized police as a necessary evil in today’s society, are the media’s bread and butter. And, the media will usually overlook stories of protests both here in the US and in other countries. Hence, you may not have heard about the protests in Brazil.

São Paulo protests. Photo by Media NINJA

São Paulo protests. Photo by Media NINJA

A group of Brazilian citizens called the Free Pass movement were the organizers of the demonstrations. What were the protests about? A raise in transportation fares. In São Paulo, the city with the largest demonstrations, fares went up by 17%. In 2013, the Free Pass movement was successful in getting the government to revoke a 7% increase, and they hoped to put the pressure on the government to do the same again. Continue reading

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Same As It Ever Was – Myanmar Edition

On December 22, 2014, Daw Khin Win, a 56 year old woman, was shot and killed in Moegyo Pyin, Myanmar (also known as Burma) by police while protesting the expansion of a Chinese copper mine. This has led to protests in Myanmar’s two largest cities; Yangon (Rangoon) and Mandalay, as well as a standoff in the area of the mine itself. But, how did this all start? Continue reading

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