Friday marks the third day of protests over the Akron police shooting death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker, an Akron DoorDash driver who was killed by multiple shots following a police chase on Monday. Previous protests were small, a couple dozen people. But as news of Walker's death spread across the city and national organizations like Black Lives Matter took note, today's protest downtown is expected to grow. Reporters and photographers from The Akron Beacon Journal will be reporting live from today's protest. Follow their reporting as it unfolds below.
Fourth of July
D12 held an outdoor rally today in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., for Black liberation and the liberation of all oppressed people. Banners reading “Health care is a right! Fight! Fight! Fight!” lined the street. People gathered in front of Sistas’ Place at Frederick Douglass Square. D12 members renamed the corners of two streets named after slave owners—Jefferson and Nostrand—for Douglass.
The U.S. isn’t young anymore. One can’t help but wonder what Fredrick Douglass would say if he were to give a speech on the country’s 245th birthday. The “great streams” of American racism, white supremacy and sexism have indeed worn deep. A full 169 years after Douglass’s speech, the U.S. is still bogged down by many of the same contradictions.
Once again, this Fourth of July, Americans will celebrate — to the unwitting militarist racist tune that is the “Star Spangled Banner” — more than just the nation’s Independence Day. Though most folks will, if at a reasonable social distance, focus more on the backyard beer and brats, U.S. jingoism and exceptionalism will invariably be on the menu. That last sentiment, particularly amidst the COVID- and mass protest-exposing era of forever war at home and abroad, deserves a closer and critical look. For exceptionalism is truly a national disease that ravages American bodies and democratic institutions alike. This malignancy must be named and shamed in pursuit of precisely the “participatory patriotism” the holiday purports to celebrate. As the (late) man said, “Always look to the language;” so let us begin there:
A labor strike is brewing in the NYPD. A pair of flyers making the rounds among NYPD officers are encouraging them to call out sick July 4 — as retribution for police reform and a perceived anti-cop climate following the outrage over high-profile police killings of unarmed black men across the country, multiple cops told The Post. One message calls for the strike to kick off at 3 p.m. July 4. “NYPD cops will strike on July 4th to let the city have their independence without cops,” the message, which is being passed among cops via text, according to sources. “Cops that say we can’t strike because of the Taylor Law,” the message reads, referencing a law that makes public worker stoppages punishable with fines and jail time.
The National Park Service will divert about $2.5 million in fees gathered from park-goers to help pay for the hefty costs of President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July celebration, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. The White House has been preparing for the president’s “Salute to America” on Thursday, a grand parade meant to showcase what Trump has called the “strongest and most advanced” military on the planet. Tanks have been shipped from Georgia, and a flyover by Air Force One is scheduled, as well as a promised “biggest ever” fireworks display, according to Trump. But such plans have reportedly stretched the event’s budget far past normal. The Post noted that the entire Independence Day celebration usually costs the National Park Service about $2 million, but the NPS was directed to divert park entrance and recreation fees to help cover some of the additional costs of this year’s event, according to two anonymous sources familiar with the planning.
“Putin’s America,” tweeted Anand Giridharadas, a pundit who was genetically engineered in a Monsanto laboratory to appeal to NPR listeners on every possible level. Giridharadas used these words yesterday to caption a short video clip of two tanks being carted through the streets of DC in preparation for their appearance in a parade for Independence Day, a holiday in which Americans gather to eat hot dogs and drink Mountain Dew in celebration of the anniversary of their lateral transfer from monarchy to corporatist oligarchy. The military hardware parade is taking place at the behest of President Bolton’s social media assistant Donald Trump, and critics have been vocally decrying it as alien and un-American. Pundits like Giridharadas and Steve Silberman have been saying it’s something Russia would do.
By Benjamin Naimark-Rowse for Political Violence at a Glance. There is much more to the story of the campaign for independence of the United States than the 56 people who signed the Declaration of Independence. There was a decade of resistance campaigns before 1776 that involved common people who have not shared historical recognition. In this period, women were key leaders but then war brought military men to the forefront. In fact, some say independence was won in that decade and the war was Great Britain’s effort to retake the colonies by force. Colonists used what today are considered classic tools of nonviolent resistance struggles. Founding Father, John Adams wrote that, “A history of military operations…is not a history of the American Revolution.” American Revolutionaries led not one, but three nonviolent resistance campaigns in the decade before the Revolutionary War. These campaigns were coordinated. They were primarily nonviolent. They helped politicize American society. And they allowed colonists to replace colonial political institutions with parallel institutions of self-government that help form the foundation of the democracy that we rely on today.
By Mike Ferner for War Is A Crime. A historically critical article about the American Revolution would typically discuss how the democratic promises of the Declaration were left hanging at war’s end, followed by a decidedly undemocratic constitution six years later. Examples of that would include abandoning ideals stated in the Declaration like: “all men (sic) are created equal” and have unassailable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It could cite that: Slaves weren’t included in “We the People,” they were only the property of their owners. Because this human property, unlike a bale of cotton, could plan to run away, particular attention was paid to securing it. “A person (the indelicate word “slave” never appeared) held to service or labor in one state…escaping to another…shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.” ( IV, sec. 2) To appease Southerners interested in gaining the maximum number of seats in the new House of Representatives, the Fathers of Our Country declared, in writing, that these “other persons” would each count as three-fifths of a human. ( I, sec. 2) Women did not have the right to vote, nor did Catholics and Jews in some states. White, Protestant, men had to own qualifying amounts of property. Thus, only about 6% of the new nation’s population was eligible to vote in the first presidential election and only 3%, or 38,818 people actually did.
By Benjamin Naimark-Rowse for Political Violence @ A Glance. John Adams wrote that, “A history of military operations…is not a history of the American Revolution.” American Revolutionaries led not one, but three nonviolent resistance campaigns in the decade before the Revolutionary War. These campaigns were coordinated. They were primarily nonviolent. They helped politicize American society. And they allowed colonists to replace colonial political institutions with parallel institutions of self-government that help form the foundation of the democracy that we rely on today. During the decade leading up to the war, colonists articulated and debated political decisions in public assemblies. In so doing, they politicized society and strengthened their sense of a new political identity free from the British. They legislated policy, enforced rights, and even collected taxes. In so doing, they practiced self-governance outside of wartime. And they experienced the power of nonviolent political action across the broad stretches of land that were to become the United States of America. So on future Independence Days, let us celebrate our forefathers’ and mothers’ nonviolent resistance to British colonial rule.
While much of America marks July 4th with fireworks, barbeques and family gatherings, people should also take a moment to pause and consider the state of the very freedoms, liberties and rights that the Declaration of Independence was produced to acquire for the population. At a mere 1302 words subject to editorially consent by its creators, the Declaration of Independence from British monarchical rule listed clear intentions of the-then 13 colonies that wanted to become the United States of America. The preamble is more widely known than the rest of the document, but worth restating for its potency: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” The ideology behind the document reflected a sense of spirituality, respect and commonality with God and Nature, but more than that, it underscored essentials that a government should provide the governed, and that the governed were entitled to receive, if said government was to remain appropriately responsible and humane to its citizens.
As the Fourth of July is celebrated across the US – in the glow of unprecedented economic polarization, a ballooning prison population, and a barrage of dire climatological studies, among other pieces of evidence leading ever more people to consider whether our collective way of life is in need of a fundamental transformation – an examination of the ostensible objects of our celebration (independence and democracy) seems in order. Aside from the concept of independence (and the question it implies: independence from what?) democracy, it should be remarked, is an especially vague and ambiguous concept. Indeed, because democracy can refer to egalitarian, emancipatory politics, as well as to the political-economic systems of the slavery-based societies of the southern US or ancient Athens – an initial distinction should be drawn between egalitarian forms of democracy (which tend to be organized more or less horizontally, with social resources distributed more or less evenly) and what, in practical terms, are really plutocratic societies – or what, perhaps, can be termed market-based democracies (which tend to be more or less hierarchical and representational). And it’s the market-based or plutocratic society that, with only minor egalitarian democratic interruptions and adjustments, exists today and characterizes what democracy has meant since the bourgeois democratic revolutions of the late 18th century.
This July 4, the fireworks won’t just be in celebration of Independence Day. There will undoubtedly be fireworks in cities throughout the Middle East, as the region, engulfed in violence, further explodes. The US military and US taxdollars are already deeply entangled in Middle Easterners’ lives (and deaths), and President Obama is under pressure to get further involved in the wars in Iraq and Syria. But what advice would our nation’s founders give the 44th president this July 4? The Founding Fathers, who revolted against a foreign power, were vehemently opposed to getting involved in military adventures overseas. George Washington cautioned our new nation against the “mischiefs of foreign intrigue.” James Madison said the US should steer clear of unnecessary wars. Thomas Jefferson said, “If there be one principle more deeply written than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.” Secretary of State John Quincy Adams warned in 1821 that America should not go abroad in search of “monsters to destroy”—for such folly would destroy “her own spirit.”
The United States of America is an expression that Tom Payne invented and used to apply to what had been 13 colonies in revolt against Great Britain. So we're talking about an era before the U.S. has been formed. We're talking about a period of historical creation. And it's complex. There are several sides to it. One side, it's the struggle of freedom against monarchy, a struggle of the notion of a republic against monarchy. And that is probably the principal theme of the Declaration of Independence. I would suggest, you know, that people reread the Declaration of Independence, because they'll find 28 reasons for declaring independence from Great Britain. And these reasons reflect "a long train of abuses and usurpations" (or takeovers), to use Thomas Jefferson's language in the Declaration of Independence. And I think one of the most important of these grievances was that the King of England had opposed conditions for new appropriation of land. This is the seventh of 28 different reasons for declaring independence. And what that meant was that these settlers from Europe wanted to appropriate lands belonging to the Indians, belonging to different Native American peoples--the Haudenosaunee people, a confederation in New York; the Cherokee people of what's now Tennessee and the Carolinas; the Potawatomi, from my part of the country, in Michigan and Ohio. The settlers wanted these lands.