Reactionaries, Sellouts & Opportunists: Lessons From the Anti-Police Protests

Nicholas Ayala

BY NICHOLAS AYALA

These last two weeks of uprisings have exposed the evil of the state, but they have also shown there are many among us who are using this moment to further their own interests or popularity. Understanding the tactics of ruling class infiltrators, sell-outs, reactionaries and opportunists is crucial to ensure that future movements are not infiltrated, co-opted and destroyed, as we have seen so many times all over the world.

One of the early tactics used to pacify the movement was the attempt to humanize the police. This was done not just by mainstream media or the capitalist class directly, but rather by some of the “organizers” and “activists” themselves. Attempts to persuade, walk with, kneel or any other sympathetic action or show of class collaboration with the enemy, the state, humanizes the police. These cops have proceeded to beat and shoot the same protesters they marched and kneeled with. They are also actively walking out and resigning in solidarity with their fellow murderers. What has been accomplished by humanizing the police? It provides the state with positive coverage and pushes the narrative that only some cops are bad. It is an attempt to confuse the masses and obfuscate who the real enemy is.

An argument often made by pacifist liberals is that the rioting, violence and looting was done by random white individuals who are either cops infiltrating the protests or people who want to use the uprising for their own violent desires. What is not realized when they make this argument is that it is a reactionary stance to take as it denies the legitimate anger among Black and Brown people in the United States. There is no doubt that the police, FBI and other intelligence officials infiltrate our movements, as they always have done. However, this does not take away from the fact that there is an ongoing war in this country against Black and Brown people. People are lashing out at the state and business class because they use the police to impoverish, imprison and murder millions of us each year. In a society that preys on your destruction, rioting is no more than a defensive reaction. By saying the rioting is caused only by white kids, they delegitimize the justified anger against the government.

Those activists and organizers who believe that the number one strategy for solving the issue is to vote, presumably for the Democrats, are also weakening the movement. In just a couple weeks of protesting and rioting, we have seen numerous reforms across the country. The state felt compelled to make these reforms because of increased pressure from the people. When Barack Obama was President, the police killed hundreds of people every year. However, he only passed major police reform after the 2014 Ferguson uprising and the 2015 Baltimore revolt. Recently, current President Donald Trump did the same with the recent reform bill he passed in response to the weeks long of protesting and rioting. Obviously we do not expect these reforms to achieve much, as it is ridiculous to think that the ruling class would willingly give up its monopoly on violence. Without the violence of the police, the ruling class would be unable to defend its interests from the masses, whom they exploit and oppress. However, it should be noted that voting for Obama or voting for Trump did not immediately bring about these reforms. Rather, both had to have their hands forced by the masses.

During critical times like these, it is important to be extra cautious in who we trust to lead us. We need to be ready to help in whatever way we can, but we must do it in a way that ensures we are contributing to the progress of the movement and not its destruction, co-option or pacification. We need to be on the lookout for so-called “organizers” like DeVante Hill, who advocate for nothing and work to win over white people so they could make a profit and gain popularity. We need to push out those cop activists who like to pose as revolutionaries one second and then go smile and stand with the cops the next. And we need to be critical of our organizations and leaders, so that we do not have leaders who openly state that they will “testify against” those who incite violence or destroy property, like sell-outs at the Black Lives Matter chapter in Salt Lake City, Utah. These are only a few examples of how our movements are hindered by opportunists and reactionaries. However, if we recognize and educate others about the numerous ways in which we are attacked from both outside and inside our movement, we can become stronger, more organized and solidified.

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