Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What I Learned This Year -- Part The Third

Activism works.

Of course I knew that from long experience, but we have been living under a system which insists that only "approved" activism works. Color revolutions only, you see?

The revolt against police violence and abuse seemed to take the Powers That Be by surprise (putting it mildly), and they still haven't figured out what to do about it. My sense of the situation has been that they will try to crack down, hard and all at once, much as they did with Occupy, but something tells me now, before the New Year, that they may try a different tactic:

Taking out or buying off the "leaders" who aren't slippery enough to escape their grasp.

I've seen many signs of it already.

The massing of military style police forces, just like an occupying army would do, after James Boyd was killed in Albuquerque, then after Mike Brown was killed in Ferguson, along with the massing of police-troops all over the country to counter the protests that ensued became something of an embarrassment to Our Rulers given the constant rhetoric about freedom of expression and assembly and so on.

No, it wouldn't work.

Military-style forces were told to stand down, and for the most part they did, though in St. Louis they were held in reserve "just in case" the Negroes got too far above themselves. Faith leaders and even the New Black Panthers were recruited to manage the protest crowds instead. The police continued their false claims of being fired on and assaulted by members of the crowds of protesters, but for the most part, protests went on relatively unimpeded, except when the feelings of the police were hurt -- as in Berkeley (CA), Oakland (CA), New York, and St. Louis, where the po-po are always butt-hurt over something or other.

Direct assaults against protests were limited; the snatch and grab tactic along with arrests and/or smears of protest "leaders" were substituted. By taking out the most outspoken or the most eagerly followed activists, it was thought that the protests would collapse. Didn't happen though.

I remember at one point, Antonio French, who was seen as a leader of the protest movement -- he isn't though -- was arrested and held for quite a while, but it only further inflamed the protests, it didn't cause them to collapse. That was because Antonio French wasn't leading the protests.

A concerted effort was launched to smear Mustafa Hussein who had been valiantly livestreaming the protests for Argus Radio News.  So far as I can tell at this point, Mustafa has stepped back and is no longer in the vanguard of livestreamers from Ferguson. He was clearly hurt by the smears and other assaults he faced. But it didn't end the livestream coverage of the protests. If anything, there are more streamers now.

Another livestreamer, Bassem Masri, is currently being smeared. He's also been arrested a number of times on bogus charges, and there have been reports that he's been offered "something" to turn against the protesters or to serve as a mole of some sort. Whether any of that is true, I don't know. But he's still out there covering the actions as best he can, and not solely in Ferguson and St. Louis. He's been traveling quite a bit around the country, and has made a number of mainstream television appearances.

An outspoken member of the Ferguson Commission was arrested for something, I forget what, the day after he was at the White House meeting with the President; another outspoken activist was arrested for arson and burglary for setting fires the night Antonio Martin was killed in Berkeley (MO).

A livestreamer in Los Angeles, Bryan Hayes, was run down by a driver from Rhode Island the other night -- no consequences to the driver, apparently. The running down/running over of protesters has become one of the "things" anti-protesters do, as the protests have been blocking streets and freeways as civil disobedience tactics.

Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of protesters have been arrested since August. Some have been charged with felonies for trivial offenses. That too is part and parcel of the government tactics against this uprising

There have been reports that all of the protest "leaders" are being monitored by the FBI -- COINTELPRO on steroids.

The primary tactic, however, appears to be to wait out the protests on the premise that they will go away on their own. A few bones will be thrown now and again to divert attention from the problem of police violence and abuse, but nothing substantive will change.

Except that substantive changes are being made in the way the country is policed, and radicals are actually proposing and here and there implementing alternatives that will eliminate police as we have grown accustomed to them.

Big changes are afoot.

Peter Gelderloos has written a pretty profound manifesto regarding "A World Without Police." Whether we'll get there, I don't know. But his insight and powerful rhetoric on the topic will have an influence, no doubt.

Albuquerque's police culture appears to have changed dramatically in the last several months. New York's police unions are focusing on change there. We're seeing the spread of change throughout the national policing culture. Activism works.

It is a profound lesson that needs to be relearned from time to time.

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