Dec. 2 — The new movement protesting injustice, racism and police brutality in the United States has entered its second week with undaunted determination and militancy. African-American youth in the main and other youth of color have led this movement. People — especially young people from all communities — have taken part, accepting that leadership.
This movement expresses a will to put an end to a system steeped in bias, inequalities and decay. Judging by its placards, banners and slogans, it sees its similarities with the struggles of other peoples who are oppressed and exploited — from Palestine to low-wage workers here at home.
Horrible, racist and criminal events sparked the birth of this movement. At this point, we don’t know exactly where it is headed and how it will take shape. But at this moment one thing is clear: It is splendid.
Following a week of street actions after the innately bigoted, pro-cop prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the results of a barely concealed conspiracy to free killer-cop Darren Wilson, this movement called out another protest for midday on Monday, Dec. 1 on just a few days’ notice.
The National Ferguson Response Network listed more than 150 actions in a total of 40 states, many at colleges and high schools, on Dec. 1: from Chicago to Oakland, Calif., outside police stations, courthouses, city halls and federal buildings; from vigils at the ivy-covered colleges of Harvard and Yale in the northeast to marches from Union Square in New York City throughout midtown, blocking the 14th Street Bridge and laying down before the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., and holding a die-in in St. Louis. This series of nationwide protests kept up the momentum of those standing in solidarity with Michael Brown and all victims of police violence.
An invitation to meet with President Barack Obama shows that this movement already has a weight that the highest levels of government can’t ignore. Not that those meeting with Obama found his “concessions” adequate. Not that there is even any guarantee that local police will get less surplus Pentagon heavy weapons. But as a symbol the meeting shows that the movement is already being taken seriously — even if the goal of the authorities is to derail that movement. A first sign of this movement’s skepticism was when Black youth in Atlanta disrupted a talk by Attorney General Eric Holder last night at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, chanting, “No justice, no peace.”
In 1969, when there was a vibrant mass youth movement — very different in composition from today’s — protesting the U.S. war against Vietnam, the liberal Supreme Court Justice William Douglas wrote a book called “Points of Rebellion.” Essentially it was a message directed at the U.S. ruling class that, despite the anger and rebellious attitude of the young activists, the rulers should not push them outside capitalist society. As long as they were not won over to Marxism and to working-class revolution, Douglas wrote, they could be brought back into the fold of supporting the capitalist system.
The movement today confronts an enemy that uses two tactics: one, that shown by the Obama administration — which may well be aware of Douglas’ ideas — that right now is attempting to quiet and weaken the rebellion; the other, that of the violent, vicious and racist state apparatus that refuses to give up its heavy weapons and it option of using them against the people. Despite their different tactics, both are antagonistic to the development and growth of this new movement.
Some have called this a “21st century movement,” in that participants have relied on the instant communications of Internet-based social media to connect — to inspire each other for traffic-stopping events and encourage a readiness to take risks, and to build an internal solidarity that is then reinforced by common actions.
The mood of the participants? Workers World reporters — who are also activists and organizers of these events — tell us that the young people are saying: “We are going to stop police brutality. We are going to end this.” And they know that they have to commit for the long term.
For the moment, the movement is continuing to call actions.
Workers World calls on its readers to give full support to the development of this movement. Participate in the actions. Work in your unions and in your communities to win verbal, organizational and logistical support. Fight racism at every level. Demand no police repression, no interference with this movement’s right to protest and to rebel led by the youth and young workers, be they spontaneous or organized.
To resist is justified!