Across the country the U.S. government is unleashing a wave of repression attempting to criminalize those who protest against police killings of Black men and other oppressed people. We call on people to resist the repression and to build towards revolution by organizing more mass protests and joining groups like the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
After the gruesome police strangulation of George Floyd, a mass uprising in Minneapolis, with tens of thousands, led to the fiery destruction of the 3rd Precinct police station. It gave the rich rulers of this country a much needed jolt.
The Floyd rebellion then spurred widespread protests in hundreds of cities, even reaching suburbs and small-town America. Millions participated in protests against police killings and judicial impunity, demanding community control of the police and the defunding of police budgets. People are not taking it anymore and are fighting back.
In response, the police consciously plan their attacks using teargas, clubs, rubber bullets – long with other ‘nonlethal’ projectiles that maim and take out eyes – and even gunfire. The politicians are the ones who order and direct the police repression, provoking angry responses from protesters, knowing what the results will be. Let us be clear, the politicians are our main target. Politicians need to make the reforms we are demanding.
At the top, President Trump directs the repression from the White House and it is carried out by the Department of Homeland Security, coordinating with governors and city mayors, both Republicans and Democrats. Portland, Oregon is a good example. The militant months-long sustained rebellion there has resulted in at least 74 people under federal charges.
In Portland, Trump had DHS direct a combined force of federal forces and departments. These federal police stalked protesters on the streets, pulled them into unmarked vans, and locked them away. These same federal officers hunted down and killed anti-racist activist Michael Rienoehl, whose only crime was self-defense against a right-wing extremist who threatened him.
Then there is Kenosha, Wisconsin, where cops shot Jacob Blake in the back and paralyzed him. Again, the police response to protesters was to launch teargas and physically attack thousands of people, to violently drive them away from chanting and rallying outside the local courthouse. The same police let a white supremacist who shot and killed two protesters walk right through their lines, fully armed. A week later President Trump praised these police and their murderous collusion.
There are many examples, but two more stand out: the police collusion with a white supremacist in Tallahassee, Florida, leading to the police banning of street protests and multiple arrests, and the federally-coordinated arrests of anti-racist activists in Denver.
It is clear, the U.S. government is repressing the widespread and insistent movement to stop police killings. We want to share some lessons the Freedom Road Socialist Organization learned from our past experience with FBI Repression ten years ago.
Lessons from the Antiwar 23
On September 24, 2010, the Antiwar 23 were raided by the FBI and subpoenaed to appear in front of a grand jury on allegations of ‘material support for terrorism.’ By mobilizing a mass movement, the Antiwar 23 beat back the U.S. government political repression. We owe a debt of gratitude to our many friends across the U.S. who helped us fight back and win. Solidarity!
In Minneapolis and Chicago, over 70 FBI agents stormed into people’s homes, breaking things and overturning movement leaders’ lives. The FBI carted out boxes of books, newspapers, notebooks, poetry journals and children’s artwork, removed photographs and paintings off the wall, along with computers, laptops, cell phones and passports. The FBI loaded them into vans and drove them away to comb through every detail of people’s lives and activism. The U.S. government aimed to put anti-war activists, labor unionists and student activists in prison on multiple charges, each carrying 15 years.
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, the FBI followed and subpoenaed two more activists. This was a nationwide sweep, where the FBI knocked on doors in Durham, North Carolina; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and San Jose, California asking questions. They did not get far. All refused to speak to the FBI or to appear at the grand jury.
The Antiwar 23 lesson is clear: Do not speak to the FBI. You are required to give your name, but then tell them to contact your lawyer. Do not speak to the FBI or any law enforcement.
Abolish the grand jury
In the months after the FBI raids, the Antiwar 23 refused the grand jury. The grand jury system is rigged to benefit the wealthy rulers of this country. If you really want to abolish something, this is it.
At a grand jury, the prosecutor is the one asking you questions and you are not allowed a lawyer. Once you speak, you are not allowed to refuse to answer questions, or you can be jailed. It is a terrible, one-sided system that is regularly abused. Resistance is key.
Resisting the grand jury means not speaking at all, knowing you might have to sit in jail. A few years ago there were heroic anarchist friends in the Northwest who sat in jail for months instead of testifying. The prosecutor can jail you to coerce you to speak, but not forever.
Prosecutors abuse the grand jury in the other direction too. It is the same grand jury system that lets off killer cops. We say, “Abolish the grand jury!”
Dump ‘material support’ laws
The U.S. government uses ‘material support for terrorism’ charges to choke off free speech, curb freedom of association, and to lock people up. Many of the Antiwar 23 are members of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. All of the 23 were part of very open and public campaigns in solidarity with liberation movements in Palestine, the Philippines and Colombia.
Freedom Road’s newspaper, Fight Back! regularly reports on the heroic efforts of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the political prisoner Simon Trinidad of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) being held in the Colorado supermax prison. The FRSO stands for proletarian internationalism and for solidarity with the oppressed against their U.S. oppressors. We won’t back down.
The FRSO upholds the slogan “Revolution, Socialism and Liberation.” There is no doubt the U.S. government and its Wall Street bosses are threatened by these ideas. That is why the FBI and the courts kept us tied up for eight years, and then they went after our closest comrades.
Sheriffs raided the home of Chicano leader Carlos Montes in Los Angeles. Montes faced trumped-up charges but we defeated the case against him by speaking out and organizing. Then the U.S. government arrested an icon of the Palestinian liberation movement, Rasmea Odeh. An organizer of Arab women in Chicago, Odeh was forced to depart the U.S. after an almost four-year struggle that put Israeli crimes on trial and lifted up the cause for Palestinian liberation.
Let us not forget the 500 or so American Muslims framed by the FBI and other agencies using ‘material support’ laws as part of the phony U.S. ‘War on Terror.’ The FBI and prosecutors continue to use paid informants to frame up people. In many cases, they pretend to be your friend. They tried to do this to the Antiwar 23. It is especially treacherous and ugly.
For the FRSO, we act in solidarity with the workers and oppressed people of the world against U.S. imperialism. We say Wall Street finance companies and banks have no right to rule workers in this country, let alone the peoples of other countries. The billionaire class that dominates this country is on the road to ruin.
We need to replace the dictatorship of rich with the rule of the working class and its allies. Black, Chicano and the Hawai’ian oppressed nations have the right to self-determination. Sovereignty and national development for Native Americans and other indigenous people! Independence for Puerto Rico and other U.S. colonies! This is the future, and we can advance toward it quickly – if we resist U.S. government repression and organize to push forward our movements now!
Organize to win! Do not speak to the FBI or police. Refuse to testify at the grand jury.