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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Not a riot: REBELLION!

by Monica Moorehead

A MILITANT, youth-led uprising, ignited by police terror, has swept across the USA like wildfire and is now entering its second week. Trump has proudly declared himself the “law-and-order” president whilst threatening to send in the army to quell the protests. But this – and the present catastrophic coronavirus pandemic, resulting in over 102,000 US deaths and rising – has failed to contain the uprising sparked by an horrific videotaped police murder exposed on 25th March for the whole world to see.

For almost nine minutes, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was tortured and then killed by Minneapolis police as he lay face-down and handcuffed in the street. One police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee to Floyd’s throat, two others pinned him down whilst another stood and watched. Before Floyd completely lost consciousness, he was yelling “I can’t breathe” and calling for his late mother. Floyd was initially detained after being accused of using a counterfeit $20 note.

Even though the police officers were fired after the incident, none of them were immediately charged with Floyd’s death. Four days later Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three have still not been charged.

On 26th May protests began to erupt in Minneapolis and other cities, demanding justice for Floyd and arrests of the officers. In an audacious act on 28th May, protesters torched the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct Headquarters where the four officers had worked.

Dozens of curfews in many cities – backed up by the presence of local and state police and the National Guard – have not deterred young people from exercising their right to stay on the streets to let their outraged voices be heard. Thousands of people have been arrested for breaking curfew over six days of political outrage, expressed by burning cop cars and shutting down bridges and motorways.

Young people, including children, have been tasered, pepper-sprayed and knocked down in clashes with riot police. Reporters from the mainstream media have been detained or indiscriminately hit with rubber bullets and pepper spray along with protesters.

The protesters only have rocks, water bottles, bricks and skateboards to defend themselves. But they’re using guerrilla-like tactics to evade the cops, who are armed to the teeth with batons, rubber bullets, chemical sprays and even tanks.

The youth of today are fed up not only with what happened to Floyd, but with police killings of other Black people in Minnesota. In fact, this uprising – which has spread to at least 130 towns and cities – has helped to expose the cases of other Black people who recently lost their lives to police violence.

White supremacist, pro-Confederate symbols have not escaped the wrath of the protesters, who have toppled or defaced Confederate monuments in the South.

Trump has been called the “number one white supremacist” – and rightfully so. He calls the protesters “thugs”. He says that when the “looting” starts, the “shooting” starts. He has declared the Antifa movement a “terrorist” organisation, and calls state Governors “jerks” if they don’t “dominate” and arrest protesters. He even made a veiled threat to call out his neo-fascist base to confront the protesters before he backed off on that threat.

Thousands of protesters have confronted Secret Service agents and local police outside the White House in Washington DC. For several nights, firecrackers exploding were loud enough for those in the White House to hear.

There is no telling how long this uprising will last. But there is one absolute: this rebellion is unprecedented not only for being composed of predominantly young people, but it is multinational with Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian and White protesters joining together. They refuse to be silent when it comes to being in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and for condemning all forms of police violence.

This uprising, much like the pandemic, has impacted every sector of US society. Prominent sports figures have spoken out against racism and, in some cases, attended demonstrations along with entertainers.

Liberal bourgeois and reactionary politicians and their media mouthpieces are attempting to drive a wedge between participants in the uprising, labelling many Black protesters “peaceful” and many White protesters “anarchists”.

These apologists for the ruling class are fearful of how far and how deep this rebellion could go in rupturing the fragile capitalist system, already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing economic crisis.

This rebellion needs political solidarity, not isolation! That is reason enough to demand: No police state! No military dictatorship! Amnesty for all arrestees! Withdraw the police and National Guard! No justice! No peace!

Workers World (USA) edited