On April 30, hundreds of armed protestors stormed the Michigan state capitol building in the United States. The protesters were aggressive, loud, boisterous and angry. Some may even label them “thuggish.” What were they protesting? The relatively weak and ineffective lockdown measures that were put in place in response to the COVID-19 virus. The largely white, middle-class crowd took issue with the loss of their small businesses, the loss of civil “liberties” and what they perceive to be a growing police state. The police response to angry armed citizens taking a government building was to do nothing. They fired zero rounds, launched no tear gas canisters and not a single person was assaulted.
This past week, more protests have been taking place across the United States. This time, the protests are centered around the death of George Floyd. Floyd was a 46-year-old Black man murdered by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. These uprisings were not nearly as heavily armed as the ones in April, but they were twice as angry. As people took to the streets, police fired tear gas, used drones and called in riot units to put down the protests. Repression, longstanding violence against marginalized and colonized people and recent killings of Black women and men are the reasons violence occurred in Minneapolis. Police officers initiated violence when they thought they could ride around the city and murder whomever they want. Riots, looting and burning are nothing more than defensive tactics in a war waged on working class communities by U.S. police. The “offense” in this war stems from the day-to-day brutality through murder, beatings, wrongful arrests, intimidation and criminality that police afflict onto our communities.
There’s no doubt that this is a war. The U.S. war in Afghanistan, beginning in 2001, cost the U.S. 2,216 soldiers; and in Iraq, in 2003, a loss of 4,497 U.S. soldiers. From 2015 to 2020, U.S. police shot and killed 5,142 people, a number which does not account for all the people they have killed, just the ones shot. People in the U.S. have suffered more casualties in a shorter amount of time from their own police, than their military has from foreign groups. Black communist revolutionary Huey P. Newton was correct in describing the U.S. police as “an occupying army.”
The differences in police response are stark. While anti-lockdowners complained about the mythological fascism they were fighting, communities of color and working people suffered the real repressive force of the police state. As police continue to violently oppress these uprisings, right-wing militias have been showing up to defend law enforcement and small businesses. Of course, right-wing property owners are allying themselves closely to those who defend private property: the police. What has been made clear by the distinct responses is that the U.S. continues to be a white supremacist, imperialist state. The lives that matter the most are white lives and the only thing that deserves to be protected is private property.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to connect marginalized people in the imperialist core with victims of imperialist aggression around the world. Why? Because as the U.S. tries to plot a coup attempt in Venezuela, demonizes Cuban doctors and their effort in fighting the pandemic and sanctions and scapegoats China, it is showing that it has no respect for the lives or sovereignty of the people in these nations. The same U.S. imperialists who sanction, kill, fund terrorists and plot coups in foreign countries are bringing their tactics to the homefront. Marginalized and colonized communities are now the target, creating a common enemy between the victims of imperialist oppression in the Global South and the marginalized in the Global North. When Newton referred to U.S. police as “an occupying army,” he drew a similarity between the U.S. occupation of Vietnam and several foreign militaries, to the police surveillance and brutalization of Black communities. The same needs to be done now.
We must highlight how Black victims of the guarimbas in Venezuela, the murders of Indigenous activists, the bombings and destruction of Muslim and Arab countries, the looting and impoverishment of Africa, all relate to the violence against working communities in the United States. This violence against U.S. people by the government is just the beginning. The imperialists are now being forced to turn their violence and profit motive inwards on their own people. When this happens, we need to prepare our communities to defend themselves from imperialist violence by learning from those who are currently struggling against U.S. imperialism. International solidarity will be the only way to advance the well-being of our oppressed comrades in the belly of the capitalist-imperialist beast.