'Baltimore unrest' thread

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Sharkfinn
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May 12 2015 20:54

First of all a clarification: I did not say there hasn’t been cross ethnic unity in labour struggles. I didn’t mention it in detail, because this being libcom, I assumed that the history behind the American IWW and anti-racism would be self-evident for most posters. It is however, irrelevant concerning my previous post which was intended as a response to the opposition against “race-centric” rhetoric.

Quote:
In the sense that they continue to use race-centered lines of discussion and demand, they will end up being the counter-revolutionary wing of anything else that develops on a more class-focused basis.

Stop and search, the prison system, housing discrimination, ext. -are race-centric working class issues. I find it unclear what kind of non-race-centred demands should be used when talking about these issues so as not to become “the counter-revolutionary wing” of the anti-racist working class movement.

The labour movement has an existential need to fight against racism and all divisions within the working class but this cannot be done exclusively through “shared working class issues” in the name of class unity (perhaps we all agree on this, and it’s just the wording that throws me off).

The civil rights movement, race riots & black liberation organisations didn’t achieve their aims through union organising with white workers but through demands made as a united black community and direct action. Revolutionary worker’s movement needs to understand that specific problems (discrimination by race, gender, disability) usually demand specific solutions and the movement has to be able to facilitate and encourage that.

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Pennoid
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May 13 2015 00:02

Class =\= labor movement. But in any case I think we mostly agree, I just don't think "X race community" can much sustain a revolutionary framework without dealing with class.

I further think that class consciousness is not purely spontaneous; learning history and theory is important.

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Joseph Kay
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May 13 2015 07:03

Maybe another way to think about this is:

1) You can't explain state violence/policing without reference to class
2) You can't explain police killings (and the movement against them) without reference to race

Therefore, neither 'class not race' colourblind communism, nor 'race not class' natlib style politics are adequate. How we go about thinking race and class* simultaneously is an open question, there's various theoretical approaches, but any reductionism of race to class or class to race seems untenable.

* and not only race and class

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Pennoid
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May 13 2015 07:47

Fair enough

grin

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Jamal
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May 13 2015 14:38

Police are killing everybody. 40% of unarmed victims are Black. Three times more than white people. Still though, 26% of all police victims are Black.

http://www.mappingpoliceviolence.org

Flint
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Joined: 17-12-05
May 13 2015 21:27
Jamal Rayyan wrote:
Still though, 26% of all police victims are Black.

Yes, and only 12.2% of the U.S. population is Black, but 63.7% of folks are non-hispanic White. Further the black population is concentrated in certain urban centers and rurally in the south. So the perception is that where black folks exist in the U.S., they are disproportionately the victims of police violence (with being killed by the police the most egregious thing). So in a Black majority city like Baltimore you would expect blacks to be the majority killed by the police, except its overwhelmingly the case. Its also the experience that black folks are overwhelmingly the victims of any murder. And not just black folks in general, but specifically black men.

So that's why it seems like a huge race thing, because it is.

Baltimore Murder Map: 2014: Blacks

Baltimore Murder Map: 2014: Whites

Baltimore Murder Map: 2014: Women

Baltimore Murder Map: 2014: 21217 (Sandtown-Winchester + my neighborhood of Reservoir Hill)

Back in my neck of the woods growing up in relatively white-homogeneous rural West Virginia, its usually white folks who have run ins with the police; because its overwhelmingly just white folks who live there.

White privilege (like the privilege not to be harassed by the police to the point of being murdered by them) is a RELATIVE rather than ABSOLUTE privilege. It doesn't matter or really apply to homogeneously-white poor area.

bastarx
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May 14 2015 01:08

This is a good article about Baltimore:

http://www.ultra-com.org/project/rites-of-passage/

And for fans of riot porn, here's a cool video linked in the article:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLp2RCnxjFA

boomerang
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May 14 2015 01:31

Jamal did say that US cops kill blacks three times more than white people. So he's not denying the racialization of police violence. And he's making a good point on pointing out that people of all 'races' are victims of police brutality and murder.

It's important for people to be aware of both things - the racial disparity in police violence, and also it being a general problem. If people lose sight of it being a general problem, then it blocks them from understanding that the police are a problem in themselves, rather than just their racism being a problem.

I've been thinking about all this with the Black Lives Matter movement. How to highlight this reality without taking the spotlight off of racism? Can the spotlight be widened rather than moved? And how?

I remember when the #CrimingWhileWhite hashtag got popular, I felt very ambivalent about it. On the one hand it helped people in denial about racism who took the view that "Well those blacks must've been up to no good if the cops did [insert terrible thing] to them!" So that's good. On the other hand, it gave this very false impression that cops letting whites get away with shit is the norm. A dangerous view, and one that inhibits a proper understanding of cops, their role in society, etc.

I remember I actually used to believe this, that cops were not a threat to white people. I remember even thinking that whites should experience MORE police brutality so that it would help them wake up about the fucked up nature of this society! A despicable and shameful view!

When I found a website that archived various police brutality videos, I remember being shocked to see how many white people were getting brutalized by police for no damn reason. Even a frail little old white lady who was bed ridden was tasered in her bed. Hell, there was even a video of a cop pepper spraying a friggin baby squirrel in front of school children begging him to stop! These videos are when I realized that cops aren't just racist... many are bullies with god-complexes who break into narcissistic rage if you don't bend over and lick their boots. That's when I finally developed a healthy fear of the cops.

Flint
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May 14 2015 04:12

This jail has been politically controversial from the beginning. The Algebra Project fought it, as did Occupy Baltimore. Supposedly, it was a dead project.

Quote:
The Board of Public Works unanimously approved the deal without discussion on Wednesday, a marked shift from the debates that consumed plans to build a $70 million youth jail twice as large two years ago.

Advocates say they hope plummeting populations of young offenders charged as adults and changes in state law will eventually render the $30 million project obsolete.

State of Maryland approves $30 million for new youth jail

Occupy Baltimore – and media – booted from public sidewalk near youth jail site (2012)

Juvenile jail scrapped, but state still plans $70M for facilities (2013)

First day of Occupy Baltimore

They can find $30 million for a unneeded Youth Jail, but not for recreation centers,

Quote:
the city had spent too much on policing compared to providing rec centers, alluding to the 2011-12 battles when Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake closed down or privatized more than 20 recreation facilities. The city has since opened a center in Morrell Park and rehabilitated several facilities in East and Northeast Baltimore.

Closing rec centers and slashing youth programs were root causes of riot, councilman asserts

ACLU: police seizure of protesters’ Rec Center sign “spectacularly improper”

Mayor proposes rec center closings and transfers in 2013 budget

Flint
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May 14 2015 13:05

Also, it should be noted that the new Republican Governor Larry Hogan's proposed budget would cut $144 million from Maryland schools.

source

Baltimore City would get $11+ million in school cuts, while black-majority Prince George's County would get $20+ million in school cuts.

source

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Jamal
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May 14 2015 14:56

I've been thinking about the demand to disarm the police. Considering the US bourgeoisie would never, ever go for that, it could be an interesting fight. It would expose a lot of the contradictions of capitalism in ways many don't understand.

But of course if the whispers became shouts and the US ruling class did "reform" the police enough to quell mass dissatisfaction that would just restore confidence in capitalism and the state.

So what do we do?

Flint
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May 15 2015 16:20

"Right Back", Comrade

Comrade just put out a track for the Baltimore Uprising.

(Comrade actually preformed at this winter's holiday party at UNITE HERE Local 7. We also had Dimitri Reeves.)

ChumpChange
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Joined: 10-02-15
May 17 2015 13:47

"Baltimore"

Beat-up little seagull
On a marble stair
Tryin' to find the ocean
Lookin' everywhere

Hard times in the city
In a hard town by the sea
Ain't nowhere to run to
There ain't nothin' here for free

Hooker on the corner
Waiting for a train
Drunk lying on the sidewalk
Sleeping in the rain

And the people hide their faces
And they hide their eyes
'Cause the city's dyin'
And they don't know why

Oh, Baltimore
Ain't it hard just to live?
Oh, Baltimore
Ain't it hard just to live?
Just to live

Get my sister Sandy
And my little brother Ray
Buy a big old wagon
To haul us all away

Live out in the country
Where the mountain's high
Never gonna come back here
Till the day I die

Oh, Baltimore
Ain't it hard just to live?
Oh, Baltimore
Ain't it hard just to live?
Just to live

Nina Simone

boomerang
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May 17 2015 14:17
Jamal Rayyan wrote:
But of course if the whispers became shouts and the US ruling class did "reform" the police enough to quell mass dissatisfaction that would just restore confidence in capitalism and the state.
So what do we do?

Well this is the problem with any movement that wins reforms.

What to do? I have no specific plan, but I believe trying to win people over to revolutionary and anarchist goals through education (done within the context of organizing and struggle) is the general thing to do.