Mobilize Workers Action Against Racist State Terror
Rally in Solidarity
with Kenosha Anti-Racist Protesters
Union Square NYC August 30 rally called by the Internationalist Group and Revolutionary Internationalist Youth in solidarity with anti-racist protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, besieged by city police, county sheriffs, National Guard from Wisconsin and several other states, and hundreds of federal agents.
On Sunday, August 30, the Internationalist Group and the Revolutionary Internationalist Youth held a militant protest of 80 people at New York City’s Union Square in “Solidarity With Kenosha Anti-Racist Protesters.” The Wisconsin city exploded in outrage earlier in the week over the videotaped August 23 attempted murder of Jacob Blake by police, who shot seven bullets into his back as he was getting into his car where his three young sons were sitting. Blake, a 29-year-old African American, somehow survived, but has been paralyzed from the waist down. Grotesquely, the cops shackled him hand and foot to his hospital bed, as if on a slave ship.
Then on August 25, Kyle Rittenhouse, a white teenager from Illinois who came to Kenosha to join fascistic militias acting as auxiliaries in the police repression, shot and killed anti-racist protesters Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and seriously wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, a medic. Kenosha is now under occupation by National Guard troops, ordered in by Democratic governor Tony Evers, and hundreds of federal agents and National Guardsmen from other states. These were sent by President Donald Trump, who earlier sent federal police to Portland, Oregon, to terrorize and suppress ongoing protests there since the police murder of George Floyd in May.
The call for the NYC protest demanded “Cops, Feds, and Fascists Out of Portland and Kenosha!” and “For Mass Worker/Black/Immigrant Action Against Racist Terror!” The rally began with chants of “Jacob Blake, we are with you!” and “Seven shots in the back, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Only revolution can bring justice.” Saying that the working class needs to mobilize against the murderous attacks on Blake, Rosenbaum and Huber, comrade Tristán, who emceed the rally, led demonstrators in chanting “Strike, strike, strike, Strike against racist terror!”
The fact that Jacob Blake was repeatedly shot in front of his three children (ages 3, 5, 8), she noted, recalls the police murder of Philando Castile in Minnesota, in 2016, while his girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter witnessed the horror from the back seat of their car. Unlike Castile, Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many other black people “wantonly assassinated by the police for existing while black,” Blake survived. Tristán underscored the connection between the cops and their fascistic auxiliaries, noting how the police had told the group of vigilantes that included the racist killer Rittenhouse how much they appreciated the militias’ presence.
“I am enraged, exhausted and sick to my stomach watching video after video of police snatching the lives and brutalizing black people with impunity. We are witnessing modern-day legal lynching by the police,” she exclaimed. “The capitalist system was born from the blood and toil of enslaved black people, under the threat of the lash and the noose. And the origins of the police are rooted in the slave patrols.” “The function of the police cannot be reformed away,” she added. “And that function is to enforce capitalist law and order.”
Speakers for the Internationalist Group highlighted the shutdown of all 29 West Coast shipping ports on June 19 (Juneteenth) by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, in protest against police brutality and systemic racism. This points to the kind of multiracial workers power that needs to be brought out in the fight against capitalist state repression. Protesters chanted, “Shut it down, this is the hour – Labor/black/immigrant power!” Demonstrators carried photos of several victims of racist terror, repeating “We remember” as the names of dozens of those who have been killed by the police and the fascists were read out.
Gordon, speaking for the Internationalist Group, said that “The fight for black freedom – and for that of all working people – requires class power.” “Racism is the reflection of material oppression. Racism is not merely an attitude,” he continued. “Racism is an ideology that is deeply embedded in this system.” There have been a lot of calls to “defund” the police, he noted. But “the police will still exist, even if ‘defunded.’ And black people will still be shot down.” Look at Jamaica: “the police do not have a lot of money there, but they are extremely violent toward the working class, as they are everywhere that capitalism reigns, because that is their function.”
Others talk of “abolishing” the police, Gordon said. “This misunderstands the nature of the state we live in, a capitalist state, run by capitalists. They need armed bodies of men, and women, and now increasingly ‘black faces in high places’.” He pointed out that a leading light of prison “abolition,” Angela Davis, has called to vote for Joe “Shoot them in the legs” Biden! “The only answer is a revolutionary workers party, that separates from every capitalist politician and party,” he said, adding: “We need to strike against racist terror and imperialist war.” So “if we want black freedom, if we want black liberation, it only comes through socialist revolution.”
Speakers called for workers mobilization against racist terror, citing the example of the June 19 shutdown of all 29 U.S. ports by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to protest police brutality and systemic racism.
Another IG speaker noted that, instead of protesting in solidarity with Kenosha, many anti-racist activists had gone to Washington, D.C., for an August 28 “Commitment March 2020” that attempted to recreate the 1963 liberal “March on Washington.” The D.C. protest aimed to channel anger at racist police murder into “getting out the vote” against Trump and for the Democrats. Yet Democratic nominee Biden opposed busing for school integration and authored laws for the mass incarceration of black people. And his vice president pick, Kamala Harris, has long enforced racist repression as prosecutor, district attorney and California attorney general.
Protesters chanted “Not Biden, not Trump – Build a workers party!” Emphasizing how the curfews and racist repression meted out against nationwide George Floyd protests were carried out by Democrats, like New York City’s supposedly “progressive” mayor Bill de Blasio, they added, “Mayors, cops, courts and jails – Racist system, go to hell!” As the IG/RIY banner proclaimed: “Democrats Are the Bosses of the Racist Killer Cops.”
Other speakers at the rally included two members of Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas (Class-Struggle International Workers, an organization of immigrant workers aligned with the IG), who spoke of how Democrats and Republicans denied relief to immigrant workers during the pandemic. Marjorie Stamberg of Class Struggle Education Workers pointed to the racist segregation of New York City schools, the fact that after all the protests, police are still there, and called for union-led teacher-student-parent-worker committees to block unsafe opening of the schools (see “Get Ready to Strike to Make NYC Schools Safe to Reopen,” The Internationalist, 30 August). Protesters chanted, “Cops out of the Unions, Cops Out of the Schools!”
Melissa, also of the CSEW as well as RIY, spoke of how thousands of adjunct professors have been laid off at the City University of New York, which is a blow against the education of the CUNY students, who come from working-class, immigrant, black and Latino families. With unemployment at a record high for months and the COVID epidemic raging on, “capitalism is continuing to show its inability to meet the needs of the population,” she said. “Racist police terror is one of the many symptoms of a system in crisis. And what is that system? Capitalism.” She concluded with a call for socialist revolution, saying: “Capitalism is literally killing us, and it needs to go.”
A speaker from the Laundry Workers Center, who was refused personal protective equipment by her employer, fell sick with the disease and was then fired, spoke of the struggle of immigrant workers against wage theft. Her young daughter also spoke eloquently on her behalf. An attorney who represents tenants spoke about the threat of mass evictions in New York City of hundreds of thousands of people who cannot pay the rent due to loss of jobs and income during the pandemic.
The protest was covered by El Diario (31 August), the largest Spanish-language daily paper in New York, in an article titled “Blacks and Hispanics Called on to Unite Against ‘Racist Terror’.” The article cited Leticia Torres of the Internationalist Group to the effect that “racist police brutality is always pandemic under capitalism.”
“‘To combat this plague, it’s urgently necessary to mobilize working people, black people, Latinos, Asians and immigrants in powerful class actions, including workers strikes that can shut down large cities like New York. We have the power, it must be used,’ Torres emphasized….
“‘The Republican president’s racist rhetoric and provocative military moves are part of his reelection campaign, as he proclaims himself the "law-and-order candidate." Yet the actual repression of anti-racist protests has been carried out by police and National Guard under orders of the Democratic mayor and governor,’ Torres added. ‘Internationalist protesters are demanding cops, feds and fascists out of Kenosha and Portland. We say No to Trump’s martial law threats and point out that Democrats are the bosses of the racist killer cops’.”
In addition, one hour of the protest was broadcast in livestream coverage on the Facebook page of WFLA News Channel 8, an NBC affiliate, in Tampa, Florida, with 117,000 views and more than 3,000 (overwhelmingly hostile) comments.
In the Face of Racist Provocations…
Protesters Hit Racist Shooting
of Jacob Blake, Tyler Rambo
Revolutionary Internationalist Youth marched in Spokane, Washington, protest against Kenosha racist attacks.
SPOKANE, August 30 – Members and supporters of the Revolutionary Internationalist Youth (RIY) took part in a hundreds-strong protest in downtown Spokane, Washington against the racist police maiming of Jacob Blake. Protesters expressed outrage at the epidemic of police violence, demanding justice for those who have been brutalized or killed by the cops coast-to-coast.
A case in the Spokane area is that of 19-year-old Tyler Rambo, a young black man who lost both his legs after being shot 14 times by police last year in neighboring Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Tyler remains in jail on the charge of “attempted murder” to this day. His mother, Nicole Ellis, spoke poignantly at the demonstration, saying that, like Jacob Blake and many others, “In the end, he is the one being blamed for the injustices and violence committed against him.”
In contrast to the numerous speakers who implored protesters to vote for “change,” presumably for the Democrats’ Biden/Harris ticket, RIY stood out for our communist politics. As we marched, a sizable section of the crowd joined in chanting “Only revolution can bring justice” and “Jacob Blake, Michael Brown, shut the whole system down!” As we crossed the Monroe Street Bridge, Internationalists at Sunday’s protest also called for “Cops and feds, out of Kenosha” and chanted “Break from the Democrats, build a workers party.”
As the marchers arrived at City Hall, we distributed leaflets and sold Revolution (the RIY newspaper) and The Internationalist to the crowd. Shortly, a procession of right-wingers in cars and trucks flying Trump 2020 and “Thin Blue Line” flags began shouting out their windows, revving their engines and “rolling coal,” spewing smoky exhaust in an attempt to intimidate and provoke protesters.
Additionally, several individuals open-carrying weapons watched the protest from a distance. Following incidents of local militias brandishing rifles at previous protests in Spokane, this provocation brought to mind the shooting deaths of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum by a racist teenage vigilante in Kenosha earlier in the week.
It was made known the next day that Spokane Democratic Socialists of America co-chair and tenant organizer Jeremy Logan had been seized by a plainclothes squad, put into an unmarked van shortly before the protest, and held for a day and a half. The Spokane Police cover story for this joint operation with the Sheriff’s Office cited an alleged outstanding warrant (although the county that supposedly issued the warrant kept changing) and “hostile comments” by Logan. The Revolutionary Internationalist Youth has issued a statement denouncing this ominous repeat of the feds’ snatch squads in occupied Portland, Oregon.
In the face of such armed provocations and police intimidation, the revolutionary program which RIY has put forward in the ongoing protests is all the more urgent in fighting for the emancipation of all the oppressed. ■