“Policing our own” is not the answer

September 28, 2010

I HAVE a couple of points to make regarding the article "A balance sheet from the G20 protests."

The article states:

Immigrant rights advocates, in their demonstrations, do not allow participants to undertake provocative actions that could give the cops a pretext to victimize undocumented participants. Demonstrators in solidarity with Palestine do not allow banners that could be used to slander the action as anti-Semitic. Workers in factory occupations do not permit freelance destruction of property.

The same approach is needed at high-profile confrontations with police repression such as the G20 protests.

First, the thrust of the article seems to be that we on the left should "police our own" and somehow dis-invite or otherwise discourage participation in mass demonstrations of anarchists in order to avoid police confrontation.

The authors of the article do not suggest how this should be done. Do we set up interview booths outside of the start of a demo and grill people on whether they intend to engage in "violent and/or riotous behavior?" In a demo of hundreds of thousands, this task could be quite daunting.

Or should the screenings just be limited to those wearing black? And what about people wearing mostly black--or just black T-shirts? And how do we screen the anarchists who aren't choosing to wear black? Second, the larger point to be made is that police don't need broken windows or flaming cop cars to justify repressive behavior.

They'll just make up an excuse. Indeed, the above-quoted passage about immigrants rights advocates effectively "policing their own" marches so as to avoid police repression forgets the police crackdown on the immigrants rights march in Los Angeles in 2008--from everything I've read, hundreds were beaten and arrested, and there was only literally a handful of people throwing items.

More to the point were the crackdowns at the Republican National Convention protests in New York City in 2006. Again, hundreds were beaten and over a thousand were illegally arrested--with very few reports of "anarchist activity."

Without much violence to report, the cops just trumped up charges against activists (along with anyone else they could get their hands on). The article also ignores the long history of police repression against Blacks and Latinos--many of whom were caught up in the criminal system of injustice despite being completely innocent of any criminal activity (Troy Davis anyone?).

The point is that police are certainly there to "serve and protect"--erve and protect capital--and at any cost and using "any means necessary," including lies and distortions.

Fighting police repression calls for more solidarity, not less. And how we build that solidarity depends more on what we do in between the mass marches than what we do at them.
David Bliven, Briarwood, N.Y.

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