Shit’s Going Down
Originally posted to It’s Going Down
This week brought another uprising against the police, after a police officer shot and killed a 23 year old man, Sylville K. Smith, in the Sherman Park neighborhood of Milwaukee. The uprising, which saw right-wing Governor Scott Walker call-in the national guard to sit standby in case the riots escalated, happened against the backdrop of continued rampant police killings and the growing social degradation of poor and working people in the United States. This is the second time in two years that Walker has called in the National Guard to deal with protests against the police and the fourth alongside Ferguson and Baltimore in the US.
But these rebellions point to deeper tensions caused by the systems of domination inherent within industrial capitalism and white supremacy, which is policed and protected by this government. In the case of just Milwaukee, Niles Niemuth wrote:
Milwaukee has been devastated by decades of deindustrialization and financialization, which has produced the highest levels of inequality since the 1920s. The factories that provided decent wages and benefits for tens of thousands of workers have all but disappeared.
The city lost three-quarters of its industrial jobs between 1960 and the 2010. The disappearance of manufacturing employment had a particular impact on black male workers in the city. From 1970 to 2010, the employment rate for black men aged 16 to 64 in the metro Milwaukee region fell precipitously, from 73.4 percent to only 44.7 percent.
The city’s overall poverty rate in 2014 was 29 percent, nearly double the national rate. Children and youth aged 18 and under were the worst affected, with more than 42 percent growing up poor. More than 43 percent of the population in the Sherman Park neighborhood lives below the poverty line.
At the same time, despite continuous slumps in US productivity, the rich just keep getting richer. As Andre Damon wrote:
In 2015, the International Monetary Fund noted in its annual report that the decline of business investment is at the heart of the failure of the global economy to recover from the 2008 crisis, despite the flooding of financial markets with cheap credit.
Major corporations are hoarding trillions of dollars in cash, which they are not investing in production or research and development. Instead, they are using it to buy back stocks, increase dividends, and carry out mergers and acquisitions, all of which increase the payouts of Wall Street CEOs and shareholders.
As a result, stock markets around the world are at or near record highs, corporate profits are surging, and the wealth of the top 0.1 percent in the United States and internationally continues to soar at the expense of the working class.
But while it is becoming more and more clear that the only solution the elites have to continued immiseration and poverty that is endemic in capitalism is simply more repression and police, the very system of industrial resource extraction and production that is making a few elites so rich is also threatening all life on this planet. This summer, scientists have recorded the hottest months ever in June and July.
At the same time, the South was hit by disastrous floods that destroyed homes and left many homeless as Obama vacationed at Martha’s Vineyard and thousands were crammed together in shelters and curfews were put into place to stop people without food or water from looting. In many ways, all of these instances should be seen as signs of not only the kind of system we live under, but the trajectory it is hurling us towards. While the rich and powerful drink wine in tranquility, our homes are washed away, we work harder and harder for less and less, and an ever growing police presence watches our every move and taxes, harasses, and kills us without cause. Meanwhile in the background, the military is at the ready should a rebellion pop off.
But a rebellion is growing, and one that cannot be contained or smothered by either the police or the military, or the attempts of politicians, activist bureaucrats, or media pundits to stop people from fighting for and creating a world worth living in.
In that spirit, let’s get to the news.
Destroy the Elections
While the “Political Revolution” of Sanders seems to have run its course, some people are hoping that it will only change figure heads to that of Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. But just as Sanders served to usher millions of angry young and working people back into the Democratic Party, historically the Green Party as severed much the same purpose. According to Scott Jay on LibCom.org:
The Green Party in the US has a history of running candidates who use the party and then dump it for a career in Democratic Party politics. It is worth reviewing the role that the Green Party has played in helping the Democratic Party.
Audie Bock was an active Green Party member for several years when she ran for California State Assembly in 1999 as a Green, won, and then soon after left the Green Party. By 2002, she was officially a Democrat and ran against Congressmember Barbara Lee, stating that Lee’s opposition to the Afghanistan war was unpatriotic.
Rebecca Kaplan was also a mainstay of the Oakland Green Party for many years, running for City Council several times before winning in 2008. In order to earn the support of the Alameda County Central Labor Council, she changed her party registration to Democrat.
Ross Mirkarimi was a leading activist in the Green Party in San Francisco for several years …[but] later won election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, [and] changed his registration to Democrat, and then won election as Sheriff of San Francisco County.
Jane Kim is currently a Democrat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors but she ran previously as a Green before switching her allegiance.
They all used the Green Party as a stepping stone into the Democratic Party, building left-progressive credentials and developing a base of support, then abandoning the Green Party when it suited their career.
This rallying behind Jill Stein by much of the left shows how completely bankrupt so much of it is and how desperate the key players and organizations are to mobilize an extremely passive base which can funnel in money, membership, and allegiance. As Jill Stein stated in a widely televised ‘Town Hall’ on CNN:
Many people have looked to us from Bernie’s campaign as ‘plan B,’ so that if they ran into trouble they could continue building this revolutionary campaign, but now all the stronger for being inside of a revolutionary party that supports the work that you’re doing and will continue to build it until we prevail.
This is nothing but the selling of the same snake oil twice. Not only is the Green Party not a vehicle for revolutionary change, no third party is going to be built that can create the kind of world we need through electoral means. By continuing to use the arena of the election cycle as a mode to build an organization, many people remain trapped within a system that is designed to physically exclude them, yet at the same time give, them a vote to cast towards their own domination.
Hillary Clinton has officially picked a TPP and fracking advocate, and former Colorado Democratic Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to be the chair of her presidential transition team. This decision comes weeks after Clinton picked Tim Kaine who has also come out strongly in favor of the disastrous TPP trade deal.
Meanwhile, the Trump train continues to derail and face declining poll numbers and incite controversy. In the past several weeks, Trump has come out and articulated tax cuts for the wealthy and traditional ‘trickle down economics.’ John Cassidy wrote:
On tax policy, however, Trump has stuck to the standard G.O.P. script, promising a slew of tax cuts skewed toward businesses and the rich. To be sure, until Monday, Trump hadn’t talked much about his tax plan, but the broad outlines of it were there on his Web site, serving as a reminder of the limits of his populism.
In a speech in front of the Detroit Economic Club, Trump outlined a broad attack on American workers and the environment. As an editorial in the Sacramento Bee wrote:
[Trump’s] big economic plan was mostly a mix of tired Republican favorites – getting rid of regulations and repealing Obamacare – and his own faulty ideas, such as tearing up…climate change agreements…
In short, much of the same old shit we’ve seen under both parties. Attacks on public services, deregulation, and getting rid of environmental protections. While some praise Trump’s stance against the TPP and NAFTA, in many ways he wants to create many of the same conditions in the US (attacks on workers, scapegoating immigrants, cutting down on working conditions and protections on the environment) to the same degree that other countries do.
But while the image of “Trump the populist” was dying, “Trump the fascist” is still going strong. In Charlotte, NC, a young man of half-Indian decent was booted from a Trump by staff who claimed he was an anti-Trump protester. According to Raw Story:
He says he was standing there when a security staffer tapped his shoulder and asked him to come with him. Jake Anantha says the staffer said, “We know who you are. You’ve been at many other rallies.”
“I thought (Trump) was for all people. I don’t believe he is for all people anymore,” Jake said. “Why are all these white people allowed to attend and I’m not?”
Trump also made a big move this week by hiring Stephen K. Bannon of far-Right BreitBart News and former Goldman Sachs banker as his new chief executive. Also, be sure to check out this nice run down of Trump’s connections with the far-Right. Raw Story wrote:
Thousands of low-wage workers marched through the streets of the former capital of the Confederacy to “draw links between the racist history of the United States and current policies … and the low wages workers are experiencing…”
Fight for $15 organizers are also pushing themselves for a living wage and the right to unionize. According to an article posted to In These Times:
On Friday, Jodi Lynn Fennell, a child care worker organizer from Las Vegas, attempted to deliver a letter from a Fight for $15 organizers asking the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to acknowledge it was their employer and to give them the right to organize.
A small group of supporters accompanied Fennell as she approached the stage where SEIU President Mary Kay Henry was scheduled to deliver the keynote address. But security guards stopped them from delivering the letter and…a supervisor told Fennell and four other organizers they had to fly back to Las Vegas early Saturday morning, at their own expense.
CWA members continue to face harassment from management after the Verizon strike. As Shannon Jones quoted several workers stating:
There has been harassment and suspensions. It is taking a subtle form, but it is all about productivity. The union is doing nothing.
The guys in the field are being harassed at an unmerciful level.
I think management is doing it because the union signed away their rights. That is what allowed these workers to be fired. Dennis Trainor signed the agreement. They signed away their rights.
Most workers understand that you can be fired for ‘hate speech.’ What they don’t understand is that the union signed off on it.
In Baltimore, Democrats derailed the passing of a meager $15 an hour raise on the minimum wage.
In New York, people protest a press conference to dencouce a housing development for wealthy people. According to Gothamist:
Inwood residents who fear a proposed rezoning and new residential development project will further the neighborhood’s gentrificationclashed with their local councilmember during a confrontational rally and press conference.
On Monday evening, locals assembled at the corner of Sherman Avenue and Broadway to protest the proposed rezoning of 4650 Broadway, which would allow the Acadia Realty Trust to construct a mixed-use building, at least 15 stories tall, on the site. If the rezoning passes, 4650 Broadway will be the first development to be constructed under Mayor de Blasio’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing plan.
In Portland, actions continue on the streets against landlords:
— PDX Tenants Unite (@PDXTenantsUnite) August 19, 2016
— PDX Tenants Unite (@PDXTenantsUnite) August 19, 2016
Lastly, in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, according to DNA Info:
Seven Little Village families are facing eviction from their apartment building on 2622 W. Cermak Road after it was purchased by real estate investor, Barnett Capital LTD, in April.
During a protest on Tuesday, the tenants unfurled banners from their windows that read: “Barnett Capital Stop the Eviction!” They chanted, “La Villita is unified, we will not be gentrified.”
The residents formed the Cermak Tenants Union to attempt to negotiate terms with the new owner, but they insist they’ve been unable to reach the company.
— Fusion (@Fusion) August 11, 2016
A heavily armed SWAT team shot and killed Donnell Thompson after he was mistaken for being a carjacker that shot at police who were pursuing him.
[I]n Los Angeles, community members held a vigil to mourn the death of 14-year-old Mexican-American Jesse Romero, who was killed by police Wednesday. Police say they were responding to a call about teenagers writing graffiti in the L.A. neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Police say they shot and killed Romero after he ran away from police and fired a gun. But witnesses contradict the police’s claim.
In Stockton, CA, anger is growing after a video has surfaced from a recent police shooting, while in Denver police recently shot a car jacking suspect. Back in LA, the release of a 2012 video tape from inside a jail shows deputies laughing and smiling as a man dies in front of them. Meanwhile, in Minnesota the officer that shot and killed Philando Castile is back at work after his long paid vacation. According to The Guardian, at the time of this writing, 685 people have been killed by the police in the US in 2016.
— Ash J (@AshAgony) August 18, 2016
Protests continued across the country in response to police violence. In Louisville, Kentucky, people protested the militarization of the police and in Baltimore a lock-down took place at a police association conference.
— The Real News (@TheRealNews) August 15, 2016
Meanwhile, the anti-police occupations and protests at #FreedomSquare in Chicago continues along with #AbolitionSquare in New York, while the police moved to evict the encampment in LA, but have not at this time succeeded.
— Radicalized Doc (@RadicalizedDoc) August 17, 2016
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) August 10, 2016
— Complex (@ComplexMag) August 18, 2016
A Baltimore defense lawyer, Greg Keith Allen, has been fired after his decades of Neo-Nazi ties have come to light. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Allen’s history with organized racism and anti-Semitism is deep. Records obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) show he was a dues-paying member of the National Alliance for years. Allen was also a subscriber to the NA’s racist publications, purchased entrance to a Holocaust denial conference the group held and bought a Holocaust denial DVD the group sold.
In Queens, NY, according to Raw Story:
A NY imam and his assistant were both shot by a lone gunman on Saturday as they left prayer services at the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid Mosque in Ozone Park.
“That’s not what America is about,” said resident Khairul Islam to the Daily News. “We blame Donald Trump for this…Trump and his drama has created Islamophobia.”
Neo-Nazi Jayme Liardi has managed to create a click-bait media splash by promoting something called “Trump Youth,” which is an attempt at organizing millennials around white nationalist ideas.
Near Sacramento in California, Damin Anthony Pashilk, the man suspected of starting a string of arsons has turned out to be a Neo-Nazi. The fires started by the white nationalist have left more than 175 homes completely destroyed. Also near Sacramento, Neo-Nazis put up a string of white power graffiti in the Gold River community. According to one news report:
The “N” word, swastikas and pornographic images were spray-painted on at least 10 homes and three cars in one neighborhood Monday night.
This area of California is home to a variety of Neo-Nazi groups that rallied at the state capitol in late June, in support of the Traditionalist Worker Party. One of the group’s members, an attempted rapist and gang member, Derik Punneo, was involved in stabbing multiple people and was interviewed by local news media afterwards while he joined in the “Blue Crew,” which put up ribbons to support the police.
Near Long Island, KKK members claim they will protest an upcoming Black Lives Matter demonstration. According to Patch.com:
The KKK, with its long history of murder and violence, plans to bring members to a Black Lives Matter rally scheduled for Sunday in Westhampton Beach, according to a man identifying himself as a high-ranking KKK member. That rally is slated to begin at noon at the traffic circle near Village Hall.
Meanwhile, in Mississippi, the National Socialist Movement is planning a public BBQ and “meet and greet” in Tupelo.
— Shut Up Liberal (@bosnianglilly) August 19, 2016
Fire to the Prisons
The D.C. Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) secretive Communications Management Units, or CMUs. Documents uncovered in the lawsuit revealed that prisoners are routinely sent to the units without meaningful explanation or other procedural protections, but rather in retaliation for their protected speech and religious practice in prison. However, the district court ruled that prisoners had no “liberty interest” in avoiding placement in a CMU – and thus did not need to receive any process at all before being sent to one – despite the severe communications restrictions, stigma, and years-long segregation that come with such placement. Today’s ruling means the district court will now have to review the prisoners’ evidence of extensive due process violations.
Also, the Department of Justice released plans today to end its use of for profit prisons over the next five years, however as many have already pointed out, private prisons are just players within mass incarceration and won’t end the practice overall. According to In These Times:
There are currently over 22,000 prisoners—about 11 percent of the total federal prison population—in 13 federally contracted private prisons around the nation. The memo does not detail where the prisoners will be moved, but Yates told the Post that by May 1, 2017, the total federal private prison population will fall to less than 14,200 inmates.
The reign of record hot months in 2016 continues, with last month claiming the title of hottest July on record globally, according to data released by NASA on Monday. This July was also the hottest month on record for the world, confirmed a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday.
Report after report continues to be produced by a variety of mainstream government and science organizations that all conclude that unless fossil fuel use is stopped now, drastic consequence will take place due to global warming. Many point to the threat poised by the release of huge amounts of methane through the melting of ice and the potential stopping of the oceanic gulf stream. Already, many are pointing towards this summer’s extreme weather as proof that in many ways, climate chaos has already begun. This summer we’ve already seen massive fires, floods, and extreme heat. Unless this system of industrial production is shut down, and shut down soon, this is only the tip of the melting ice-berg.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins from One People’s Project has a new interview out on the ‘Dispatches from the Underground’ podcast which you can listen to here.
Order a copy of the Certain Days calendar now, which benefits political prisoners.
A mighty rest in power to Jordan MacTaggart from Colorado, who gave his life righting against ISIS and for the Rojava Revolution. According to a statement by the YPG:
Our comrade was a modest and genial person, who was always at the frontline of the fight against terrorists. Martyr Jordan raised the flag of freedom and fraternity of peoples. His struggle and resistance has enriched the Rojava revolution and carved his name into the history of our peoples.
It’s Going Down
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