Popular Resistance Newsletter – Ferguson And Global Struggle For Justice
Since the killing of Michael Brown, Ferguson, MO has been the epicenter of struggle and resistance. The same city where Dred Scott challenged slavery has become the place of awakening for current racial oppression. Ferguson exposed the reality of militarized and racist policing and created a teachable moment for the nation. The sad reality for many who have studied or lived US history is the killing of African Americans is not new. For decades it has led to both protests and more police violence. The failure to confront this reality is a critical example of a what Thomas Adams describes as a dysfunctional nation in political decay.
The killing of African American men by police without punishment is an ongoing reality. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and Kevin Berends go further in Black Agenda Report and write about how Ferguson is an example of the long-term occupation and ethnic cleansing of Africa-America. These killings occur throughout the country. During the Ferguson protest there was also a protest in Ohio for 21 year old John Crawford, III who was killed in a Walmart without justification; and in Los Angeles for 25 year old Ezell Ford where the police have delayed the release of the autopsy. This week another man was shot and killed by police in St Louis County, 25-year-old Kajieme Powell was shot for brandishing a knife. A video emerged that showed a different story from the one police told.
While things seem to be calming down in Ferguson, the reality is this is a false calm, as the DC Media Group reports, because the underlying issues that lead to police violence and abuse in African American communities has not been addressed. Chris Hedges sees new African American suburbs, where blacks have been pushed out of cities but the power structure remains dominated by whites, as a likely place where rebellions and insurrections will occur.
For many around the world Ferguson showed the United States to be a ‘failed state.’ And, with the recent Israeli slaughter in Gaza, people recognized the connections between Ferguson and the US impact on the world. The tear gas used in Ferguson was made by the same Jamestown, PA company, CTS, that provides tear gas to Israel and Egypt. Henry Giroux wrote about how Ferguson is an example of neoliberal state violence that is taking hold worldwide, exported by the policies of the United States through the IMF and World Bank, if not directly; and often including the same militarized police forces.
The killing of Michael Brown has created an opportunity for Americans to hear the voices of young black men who tell us how by the age of twelve “You get trained up for Us against Them.” People want the police under the control of elected officials not funded independently by drug forfeiture proceeds or acquiring military equipment without elected officials involved. Once again business interests, in this case the weapons industry, lobbied for militarization of police.
Ferguson has led to calls for change including an end to militarized police.
David Lindorff writes how police must be remade into ‘peace officers.’ A popular proven success is requiring police to wear body cameras. This has reduced police violence and complaints against police. This is being debated in NYC where public advocate Letitia James is urging police cameras but Mayor de Blasio is opposed. Another suggestion was that police be required to have liability insurance so if they injure someone, that person is financially protected.
People are looking at the realities of divisions in the United States. The all-time leading NBA scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a powerful piece in TIME Magazine that warned that the coming race war will not be about race, but about class. The struggle is really between the haves and have-nots with race as a heightening factor.
Ferguson also showed the American people how police are used to disrupt protests and undermine Constitutional rights. People saw how escalating violence by militarized police led to violence by people seeking to protest. They also saw new tactics where reporters were placed in a separate ‘free speech zone,’ kept away from protesters who were in another ‘free speech’ zone. And, where police seemed to cut-off livestream used by the citizens media to show what is happening. While this was occurring in Ferguson, the California legislature passed a bill requiring a ‘kill switch’ on telephones which shut-off phones as a crowd control technique.
Part of crowd control was intimidation of reporters, not only members of the citizens media (who were treated differently than the corporate media). This intimidation included arrests of 14 accredited journalists. Aaron Ernst, an al Jazeera reporter, described how he was not only threatened with arrest but by a police officer shouting “I’ll bust your head.” During Ferguson we were reminded by NY Times reporter James Risen that President Obama is the “greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation” for his threats against reporters, raids on media outlets and punishment of whistleblowers.
As with other issues, people are seeing how the events in Ferguson are connected to other issues, i.e. not only obvious connections like police abuse, mass incarceration, war on dissent but the black-white housing gap and climate justice to name two among many.
The week ended with calming in Ferguson. On Thursday evening, the community lined the street with a thousand roses in memory of Michael Brown. On August 23 there will be a protest in Washington, DC and then another in DC on August 27 at 4:00 at the Department of Justice. Monday, August 25 will be the public memorial for Michael Brown.
Palestine, Israel and Gaza
Amidst all the challenges they face the people of Palestine took time to express solidarity with the people of Ferguson. This week Desmond Tutu wrote in Haaretz that Israel will liberate itself when it liberates Palestine, and urged the world to boycott Israel with divestment and economic sanctions. The reality of the Gaza slaughter has led to fading Jewish support for Israel in the US, as this Jewish woman explains in this powerful video, How I Became a Self-Hating Jew.
Protests against Israel are becoming more audacious, such as this Jewish Voice for Peace ‘shame on you’ protest at a fundraiser by the Jewish United Fund celebrating Israel’s war crimes. In this massive protest in NYC, nearly 1,000 marched across the Brooklyn Bridge while a massive Palestinian banner, urging support for the BDS movement, was unfurled from the Manhattan Bridge; and in Oakland protesters blocked an Israeli ship from unloading for 4 days. Even in Tel Aviv, the peace movement is getting active, where this week ten thousand protested for peace in Israel’s capital.
Converging For Climate Justice
There is one month to go until the People’s Climate March in NYC on September 21, which is two days before the United Nations Climate Summit. This is expected to be a massive event of thousands of people. The UN is working towards an international binding climate agreement to be signed at the COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. This treaty will begin when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2020.
The problems are that the COP meetings are dominated by corporations seeking to make a profit from the climate crisis, not to mitigate it and that like the rigged trade agreements that are currently being pushed, the Paris Treaty will subvert democracy and advance the global neo-liberal financial agenda. There is no expectation that the treaty will take the major steps that must be taken now in order to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
We are truly at a moment when the people must unite and take action together to put real solutions in place from the bottom up. That is why Popular Resistance is participating in the Global Climate Convergence and together with System Change not Climate Change, we are holding a two-day conference in New York on September 19 and 20. There will be plenaries featuring international speakers and more than 100 workshops and skill shares. We will look at the roots of the climate crisis and the obstacles to addressing it, examine false solutions versus real solutions and explore how to build a unified movement that takes effective action. There will also be art space to prepare for the march.
The New York Climate Convergence is free and open to the public. On Sunday, participants in the convergence will march together with our message of People, Planet and Peace Over Profit. We urge you to join Popular Resistance in New York for this necessary work.
While people are planning for this major event, the continued destruction of the ecology of the planet continues from the fossil fuel and nuclear energy economy. This week an Ohio River oil spill closed a 15 mile stretch of waterway; a spill from a copper mine in the US on the Mexican border closed 88 schools and polluted waterways. The Neskonlith Indian Band in Canada served an eviction notice to Imperial Metals, the company responsible for the massive tailings pond breach at Mount Polley Mine in British Columbia.
People protested methane gas, fracking and export of liquefied gas in Washington, DC at the office of America’s Natural Gas Alliance and students protested a Salem, MA gas power plant at its headquarters in NJ. In Washington, the first tree sit in the state since 1999 is occurring to protest clear cutting for a mall. In Appalachia activists opposed to coal and mountain top removal delivered ‘citizen mine inspection letters’ to a coal company. Californians are mobilizing against fracking in the oceans. In the UK a massive fracking protest is developing around an Action Camp. In Canada, the Nak’al Koh First Nation Tribe promised to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline. And Clean Up The Mines! traveled to Washington, DC this summer to build support for clean up of the more than ten thousand abandoned uranium mines that are contaminating water and causing cancer and other serious health problems.
And, public pressure had a success this week, stopping a plan to ship crude oil through Hudson Bay.
The US is escalating its campaign in Iraq and after the murder of reporter James Foley is threatening to go into Syria to fight the Islamic State. The creation of IS came out of US war and occupation and more war will only strengthen hatred for the United States.
This week it became public the military does not allow its members to read the publication The Intercept. They’ve banned that publication. Wow – talk about demonstrating their insecurity and fear of the truth! Congratulations to Glenn Greenwald and company for challenging the military-intelligence community.
The New York Times reports “Since President Obama took office, the Pentagon has transferred to police departments tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.” The Times provides a listing. Our view is that we should end providing military equipment to civilian police and at a minimum need to demilitarize the police and not allow the police to order military equipment without public review. Join us in urging Holder to demilitarize, here.
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed has just completed a four part series in Occupy.com that looks in-depth at how the Pentagon is funding new data-mining tools to track and kill activists. This is a must read if you want the latest on the government’s war against dissent. See Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.
Actions This Week