The recent spike in the size and intensity of the street protests surrounding the racist murder of Eric Garner, most notably in New York City and Berkeley, California, is a profound phenomenon. But while the protests and street battles in Ferguson, Missouri had been consistently maintained since early August, it was only after Eric Garner’s murderer was not indicted, only a week after another grand jury failed to indict the police officer who murdered of Mike Brown, did the protests and street battles really take off.
The rolling over of the struggle between these two incidents represents a unique moment, when masses of people both maintain the continuity of the struggle, and reap the benefits of experience and a higher level of consciousness, with new militants and leaders emerging very quickly.
But these moments of continuity also provide a wealth of experience and information to develop our analyses, strategies and tactics. What follows are a series of discussions written by a number of members of Unity & Struggle based on our experiences and conversation with other militants in the streets. We offer them up, in order to further develop our theory and practice, and welcome other contributions to the discussion.
- 5 Ways to Build a Movement After Ferguson by Unity and Struggle
- Burn Down the Prison: Race, Property, and the Ferguson Rebellion by TZ with edits from Chino, HiFi, and JF
- Turn Up Htown: Reflections on Nov 25 Day of Action by Out of the Flames of Ferguson
- The Old Mole Breaks Concrete: The Ongoing Rupture in New York City by JF and friends
- Points for Discussion on Race in the United States from Noel Ignatiev
Also, courtesy of Servius of RIFAMS Distro, a printable pamphlet of the discussion
4 thoughts on “Discussion: Ferguson and the Unfolding Rebellion in the U.S.”
Thanks for this, these are really interesting. A quick question: obviously there’s no definitive answer to this, especially so early on, but how do you think the police shootings at the weekend have changed the terrain? Have the possibilities that were opened up in the last few weeks now been closed down, how far have the social groupings that came together in the streets been driven apart by different reactions to the shootings, is there still room to do anything or would radicals trying to act now be way too isolated? Hard to get a feel for these questions from the other side of the Atlantic, so would be interested to hear your perspective.
Hey so sorry for the delay on this! We have actually been spread really thin in NYC because of some state repression our comrades are facing here. This is directly linked to the shooting in Brooklyn, as well as some other vigilante-type attacks against police over the last couple of months.
In my mind, we are facing two new issues: (1) state repression and the political sharp shooting between City Hall, the courts, and the various fractions of the NYPD; and, (2) a potential polarization in the movement if things kick back up.
1. As things unfolded here in NYC, the NYPD were at first unified against Mayor de Blasio, claiming his support for the protests created a climate conducive to police assassinations and other forms of violence against the police. As time went on, different fractions presented themselves, mostly along racial lines; some cops undermining the Police Chief to publicly denounce de Blasio while others’ opposition weakened, and still others actually came out in support of the protestors. However, the NYPD has been unified in its opportunism against protesters, demanding at best that protesters stop protesting, and at worse that protesters be subject to many forms of terrorism for their acts of protest. While this strategy isn’t necessarily shared by the DA or the courts, the NYPD is trying to throw the book at activists who were arrested for any small sort of militant act. Further, they are using the shootings as an opportunity to conduct a witch-hunt, including raids, arrests, and beatings, to neutralize high-profile activists. This is not an exaggeration; we have seen people literally being threatened with deportation and disappearance, and getting pushed around by these pigs.
2. Unfortunately, there was a natural ebb in the movement around the time of the shootings. It is hard to tell what impact the shootings and statements by nonprofits, police and de Blasio had. But from what we’ve seen on social media, everyday people are not buying the “stop protesting out of respect” bullshit. There is an interesting opening for polarization, and I think for the first time in a long time in NYC, the rank and file of this movement would leap to the left of the nonprofit and liberal “leadership.” We are not sure if things will kick back up when Akai Gurley’s murder, Peter Liang, faces a Grand Jury, but if it does, I’m betting the shootings, and more broadly questions of self-defense, will polarize the movement in new and exciting ways.
Sorry again for the delay. Let us know what you’re thinking about all this.