When a group of Texas workers started discussing job problems and what to do about them a few months ago, their list of complaints would have been familiar to Starbucks baristas, Amazon warehouse staff, or restive young journalists at new and old media outlets. With little notice, their employer changed work schedules and transferred employees to a new job location. Some of those adversely affected applied for hardship waivers, based on family life disruption, but many requests were denied. Meanwhile, access to a major job benefit—tuition assistance—was sharply curtailed. Even paychecks were no longer arriving promptly or at the right address. When a few brave souls called attention to these problems, management labelled them “union agitators” who were trying to “mislead” their co-workers.
Following several union meetings on Wednesday night, I was made aware that a National Guard unit was occupying the St. Paul Labor Center in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. Other union members and I were sharply aware of the National Guard’s role in repressing protests during the trial of Derek Chauvin and the recent killing of Daunte Wright, and we concluded immediately that our union hall had no place in those militarized efforts against the Black community, activists, and working class people. Rank and file union members, community activists, and various union staff members assembled at the Labor Center Wednesday night and found more than 15 armored vehicles, and 50 National Guard troops had been given the keys to the central union facility. Workers from CWA, MNA, UBC and other locals informed the soldiers
On June 2, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot firmly rebuked President Trump for threatening to unleash a military crackdown on Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country. Trump made his menacing remarks at a press conference the day earlier, declaring that he would deploy the U.S. military to any city or state that “refuses to take the actions” to quell mass protests against police, touched off by the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man. Responding to Trump at a press conference, Lightfoot proclaimed, “It's not gonna happen, not in my city. And I'm not confident that the president has the power to do that. But we have our lawyers hard at work, and if he tries to do that and usurp the power of our governor, and myself as the mayor, we will see him in court.”
Some National Guard and active-duty GIs are refusing to deploy to U.S. cities rising up against police-perpetrated killings, saying no to complicity in the repression of the American populace and that they have not been properly trained in riot response or de-escalation tactics on domestic soil. Veterans and GI rights organizations told Truthout that dozens of GIs are reaching out to assess their options as President Trump orders military and federal police onto the streets of Washington, D.C., and threatens to use the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty military into cities across the U.S. if governors cannot repress dissent in their states. The National Guard has already mobilized 20,000 members in at least 29 states, and some governors, including Minnesota’s Tim Walz, have already declined Trump’s offer to send in military police.
Courage to Resist is currently assisting members of the National Guard who resisted Trump’s orders to violently attack people on the streets of Washington DC peacefully and lawfully protesting racial injustice. Now that Trump is threatening to use the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops in cities across the US, it’s time for every member of the military to search their conscience. We want to make sure we’re there to support the brave men and women who continue to refuse these illegal orders. One Guardsmen who is resisting Trump’s orders originally hoped to join medical missions assisting in natural disasters. Addressing the current situation he says, “I can’t do it. Even looking at my uniform is making me feel sick that I’m associated with this...
The National Guard has drastically increased its response to unrest sweeping America over what prosecutors say was the murder of a handcuffed black man by Minneapolis police. There are now more than 17,000 National Guard troops in 23 states and the District of Columbia have been activated to help quell the unrest. That’s more than a three-fold increase in just over a day. “The hardest mission we do is responding in times of civil unrest,” Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in a statement posted on the NGB homepage ."The activation of Guard members in response to civil unrest has unfolded in multiple cities in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis."
Veterans For Peace calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Minnesota National Guard. We are appalled to see military weapons, vehicles and equipment once again deployed in U.S. cities to control community members who are reacting to a long history of state-sanctioned violence. When an already embattled community is subjected to militarized intimidation, by design, their environment becomes a war zone. We call on all those who are serving with the National Guard to refuse to serve violent and racist interests. Veterans For Peace denounces the ongoing instances of police violence against Black bodies and people of color, this time resulting in the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We also stand in opposition to the State of Minnesota's and the Minneapolis police force's militarized response to the right to protest.
In addition to Minnesota, where a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, the military is tracking uprisings in New York, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee, and Kentucky, according to a Defense Department situation report. Notably, only Minnesota has requested National Guard support. The documents were originally stored on an unclassified server but were subsequently “elevated” to a classified system. While the documents reveal significant National Guard force capabilities in each of the seven states, one Minnesota Guard member expressed concerns about the troops’ lack of training in responding to civil unrest. One document pertaining to the Minnesota National Guard, marked “For Official Use Only” (FOUO), describes one operation’s purpose: “Augment MN State Patrol Civil Disturbance Operations with a show of force.”
We write you as fellow veterans and service members with full knowledge of what’s at stake as many of you are being asked to mobilize against civilians in your own country. As your neighbors fill the streets demanding the justice this country promised them, your command is undoubtedly telling you that you’re being activated in service to your community. And yet, it is your community members who fill the streets, while your Commander in Chief tweets about using you to murder people over something as insignificant as property damage. A moral choice lies before you. As veterans who have faced similar tests of conscience, only to realize too late that we chose wrong, we cannot stress enough the impact this decision will have on the rest of your life.
A young friend is seriously considering joining her state’s National Guard. She’s a world-class athlete, but also a working-class woman from a rural background competing in a rich person’s sport. Between seasons, she works for a local farm and auctioneer to put together the money for equipment and travel. Each season, raising the necessary money to compete is a touch-and-go proposition, so she’s now talking to the National Guard.
By Charly Haley for The Des Moines Register - The Des Moines Fire Department had to cut the four protesters from their concrete barriers, said Brian O'Keefe, a spokesman for the department. Firefighters gave the protesters facemasks and other protection from debris as the concrete was being cut, he said. An organizer for the group of about 20 protesters is Frank Cordaro, a former Catholic priest affiliated with the Catholic Worker House. Ultimately, Cordaro wants the Air Guard base to stop flying military drones, which he believes are killing innocent women and children overseas. "We're asking for attention to a moral issue that's not being addressed," he said. Cordaro, 66, has been protesting at the base with a small group regularly since May and has previously been arrested there for trespassing. Uniformed Air Guard personnel standing near the protest declined to comment. Iowa National Guard spokesman Col. Greg Hapgood said in a statement Tuesday that Guard members "serve proudly to uphold the free expression rights" of protesters, but added that contacting U.S. senators and representatives would be more effective in this case.