More people were shot in Chicago over this past weekend than any other this year, except for the Fourth of July weekend that spanned four days. According to the Chicago Tribune and police data, a total of 63 people were shot and 8 were killed as violence erupted all over the city.
At least 63 people were shot in the city, and eight of them were killed, police said. More than half of them were wounded over 13 hours from Saturday to early Sunday. At least 16 more people were shot through the day Sunday, including three on the same street in South Austin.
The level of violence exceeded the 52 shot on the three-day Memorial Day but fell short of the 102 hit by gunfire over the long Fourth of July weekend, according to Tribune data. Still, fewer people have been shot in Chicago this year than at this time last year: 2,435 compared to 2,710.
The wounded included a 14-year-old boy grazed in the chest and left knee while he walking with his sister and a friend just before 9:30 p.m. Friday in Pilsen.
An officer-involved shooting Saturday night left 33-year-old man with graze wounds to the head. Police said he confronted police with a gun and an officer fired.
The violence in Chicago continues despite the Trump administration sending in dozens of ATF agents to work with the Chicago Police Department back in June. Per U.S. News, ATF agents were sent in to assist with ballistics information intended to help cops track down suspect quicker while identifying repeat offenders.
The ATF is sending 20 agents to Chicago to supplement ongoing efforts and coordinate with local agencies on a strike force aimed at solving shooting cases and using collected evidence and ballistics to find and stop gun traffickers, the Chicago Sun Times reported. They will join some 35 to 40 ATF agents already assigned to Chicago.
The goal is to use ballistics information submitted to a national database to identify when guns are used in multiple shootings and connect them to new cases. The beefed-up strike force, equipped with a mobile lab to quickly test new evidence, will help law enforcement build criminal cases against shooters and those providing the guns.
“We’ve been doing this all along but now it’s being amped up,” Dave Coulson, a spokesman for ATF in Chicago, told the Sun Times. “It’s a more concerted effort.”
“The goal is the prosecute as many of these guys as possible federally where they will serve longer prison terms,” Anthony Riccio, head of the Chicago Police Department’s organized crime unit, told the paper.
Meanwhile, the following daily tracking graph from HeyJackAss! helps to put the surge in violence this past weekend into perspective.
Per the Chicago Tribune, this weekend’s shootings occurred across the city, from Rogers Park on the Far North Side, where a 32-year-old man was killed early Sunday, to West Pullman on the Far South Side, where seven people were shot outside a banquet hall a few hours later the same day.
Finally, as we’ve noted before, 2017 is still shaping up to be every bit as devastating for the residents of Chicago as 2016 was.
Barcelona, 17 August, 5 PM – a white van plows with 70 km/h into a mass of pedestrians, many of them tourists, on the famous Las Ramblas, in the heart of Barcelona. The death toll, 13 plus more than 100 injured. In an adjacent event, the police kill one alleged perpetrator. The main suspect flees and is still at large. Or is he? – Maybe he has already been killed.
All the recent truck killings were carried out by white vans. Does it mean anything? Maybe not. But importantly ISIS has already claimed responsibility, through their news agency Amaq, so say the presstitute media. Does anybody other than the mainstream media check? – Probably not. Doesn’t matter. When ISIS claims responsibilities, it puts hearts and minds at ease. The culprit has been found. It’s always the bloody Islamists-jihadists. We can rest in peace. And life goes on.
Indeed, life must go on and being prepared for more and increasing terror attacks is what the Mayor of London and Mr. Macron, the novice French President, already predicted. They must know a thing or two we don’t. OK, let’s brace ourselves. Much else we can’t do anyway – or can we?
The French head of the conservative Republican Party, François Fillon, a losing contender of the recent Presidential elections, said with regards to the French tourists who died in the Barcelona attack: “We must assume our responsibility…” referring to the fact that he was not elected President – as he, Monsieur Fillon, would have done away with this Islamist terror. How low-low can you sink? There are no words, no comments.
Fortunately, the alleged chief perpetrator leaves, as usual and conveniently, an ID behind in the cabin of the white van. So, he can be traced to Melilla, a Spanish enclave in Morocco. In a related event, in a small town, Alcanar, some 250 km south of Barcelona, where on Wednesday night – well before the deadly Ramblas run, a massive explosion took place in a residence, leaving one person dead and 7 insured. One person was arrested by police. One of the injured persons was suspected to be the driver of the white Rambla van.
In the early morning hours of Friday, hours after the Barcelona van-ram in the beach town of Cambrils, some 120 km south of Barcelona, another van runs a police barricade, attempting to embark on a similar terror attack against a tourist-packed pedestrian strip. Apparently one pedestrian was killed. The police however, so the ‘news’, killed all five alleged terrorists in the van. The police now say they suspect one of them was the driver of the white van that rammed the Rambla. Dead men can’t talk.
All has – sadly but predictably – the putrefied smell of another false flag. And the ‘system’, the deep-deep dark state, again, gets away with it.
The mix of information, is seemingly incoherent and purposely very confusing. Connections must be fabricated. Let chaos reign. Keep people confused. Keep them in the belief that police are on top of it and on the guard. You people must not think. Indeed, shopping, according to RT is almost back to normal. There is a candle vigil going on in plain daylight – and a bit of a somber ambiance – and a crowd is holding an anti-islamisation rally in the center of Barcelona. All the while the Rambla is overflowing with tourists as usual. That’s the way it should be. Shopping is first. Put police in charge. They will protect us henceforth. In case they can’t handle it, the military are right at hand.
In the meantime – and foremost – and immediately after the horror massacre, messages of condolences poured in from such illustrious personalities, like Theresa May, Madame Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Sweden’s PM Stefan Löfven, from Belgium, Denmark…. Sorrow, no end.
Let’s not forget, in the last year the Ram-Truck-Terror, now a convenient tool of horror, fear and killing, has hit Nice, France – 14 July 2016, Promenade des Anglais, 86 killed, almost 500 injured; Berlin, 19 December 2016, Christmas Market, 12 people dead, 56 injured; England twice, 22 March 2017, Westminster Bridge, 5 dead, more than 50 injured; London Bridge, June 2017, 7 dead; Stockholm, 8 April 2017, the city’s busiest shopping street – 4 died, 15 injured. And now Barcelona Spain.
The condolences of these leaders sound hollow and so hypocritical because they, the very leaders, are at the heart of the problem. If not the direct instigators of this simply patterned string of terror attacks, they are utterly complicit, allowing the strings being pulled on their secret services by order of the Master Global Deep State, whose goal it is to subdue Europe, to convert her into a police – military state, chaos, possibly civil war. A civil war not as bad as to curtail essential consumption. But civil strife all the same. Give corporate finance enough room to escalate their debt and profit spiral, but leave the populace poor enough to produce a Europe that is devoid of thinking; no time to reflect, no time to protest – as people will struggle for their sheer survival.
You don’t believe it? Look at Greece and elsewhere, what’s going on around you. Militarization slow motion. Macron is fully committed to it – and doesn’t shy from saying so. The French have understood, and Macron’s popularity has sunk from 66% after the “election” to less than 35% today. Never mind. He is there to stay for 5 years. The French Constitution says so. A (people’s) miracle would have to happen to remove him.
On another occasion, I have mentioned the sophisticated hundreds of millions of euros worth ghost town being built in a German military camp in Saxony-Althaus – for the very purpose of training urban warfare – just in case, you and your fellow protesters, when you can’t take it anymore, you may take to the streets and go on the barricades – that’s when the urban trained forces of power come in to oppress you, even kill you, if necessary. What you saw in Hamburg at the G20 Meeting in early July was just a benign precursor of what’s to come.
Yes, that’s what’s expecting us Europeans – the US is already there, they are always a few notches ahead of us, they are doing the trial run for us. – Barcelona is just a little stone in the mosaic, in the Big Picture of “Full Spectrum Dominance” – the ultimate goal of the PNAC (Plan for a new American Century) – the Washington’s and the Deep-Dark One-Eyed State’s Bible, written and periodically updated by the ultimate One-Eyed Anglo-Zionists on top of the echelon. We are almost there.
Why now Spain? – Spain has been spared of major terror attacks since the 11-M (11 March 2004) attack, when a few explosions at Madrid’s Atocha train station killed 192 people and injured over 2000, three days ahead of Presidential elections. This had nothing to do with Jihadism. Though the terror was immediately blamed on Al Qaeda, no proof was ever found. It was the work of the right-wing government under PP (Partido Popular) in power at the time, blaming the Socialist Party (PSOE), hoping to defeat it. It backfired. The socialists won and stayed in power for two terms, a total of 8 years. But in the second term neoliberal might descended also on the socialists in Spain, as it did and does everywhere in Europe. The Socialists became and still are to this day, traitors to the people.
Today, Spain, with a smooth Parliamentary coup in 2016 that went almost unnoticed, has quietly slipped back to the neoliberal Rajoy Government. So, Spain is supposed to be safe for the system. It also followed the strict rules of the IMF, today reaching 100% debt to GDP, up from about 66% before the neoliberal manufactured crisis hit Europe and the western world in 2007 / 2008.
That’s exactly what the system wants. Spain is ready for another economic collapse, orchestrated in connivance with her leadership. Ready for another round of rent taking – more privatization, pension and base salary cuts – the usual. Again, look at Greece and you see the pattern. Wall Street’s appetite is never satisfied. It’s the fraudulent dollar (and euro) economy we are enslaved to that makes this human tragedy possible – and people don’t seem to even notice who and what is behind the planned misery.
Spain is on track for further ‘milking’. So, why more suffering now? – Spain is an important NATO country with three naval and military bases. The majority of the population hates NATO, would like to get rid of it. What better way of convincing the people that the forces of NATO are useful defenders against Islamist attacks. Yes, weak and with fear you accept (almost) anything. Actually, you call for your hangman to protect you – in fact, it’s the collective Stockholm syndrome.
Therefore, let’s not get sidetracked by the hollow and hypocritical words of sorrow of the chief vassal-leaders (sic) of our three most powerful European countries which are meant to lead the way for the people of the European Continent to become gradually but surely enslaved into mere hapless and powerless serfs, deprived of civil and human rights. We are well on the way there. Have you noticed?
It’s called Fascism with a smile. It’s a slow-moving soft but deadly fascism that fascinates you at every corner, pulling you deeper and deeper into the hole of no return. It’s the neoliberal fascism, that has abrogated and done away with every law, every regulation that may have protected you and your hard-earned savings and public assets; it conveyed everything to the market. Even your pensions and your saving. They are no longer yours. The market decides. Don’t believe it? – Just look at Greece. – “Hasn’t happen yet to me” – Well it will, I guarantee it, if you don’t take over your nation and make her again YOUR sovereign country. Act rather sooner than later. Time is running out.
Naturally, the situation will become unbearable to the point where you can’t take it anymore, and you will want to take to the street. It’ll be too late. Urban warfare will be ready against you.
Fascism with a smile has brought you to the point where there is no going back. It’s a new fascism. It’s not Hitler’s fascism. It’s soft, sophisticated and deadly, if you oppose it. You are manipulated by a blue-managed matrix, encircled by police and military, ready to fire – but you will be fine and get fed as long as you nod, as in agreement.
Barcelona, Nice, London, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Stockholm – and whatever else is to come, are mere little pebbles in a growing mosaic. You better look ahead what the picture, the mosaic may look like when its finished – the Big Picture is nasty, very nasty.
Think about the message of sorrow Mr. Putin sent to King Felipe VI of Spain:
“We strongly condemn this brutal and cynical crime against civilians. What has happened once again emphasizes the need for the global community to join efforts to fight against the forces of terror.”
Mr. Putin has not mentioned Islam. He knows that he talks to western leaders who are in bed with terror, that getting them out of bed is a pipe dream. They are bought or threatened – with promises of heaven – to lead this system of terror all the way to a One World Order, or as India’s President Modi said so eloquently in a recent RT interview – until the world is eventually one happy family. Bingo.
But it is not the end. There are alternatives. The western world is like a sinking ship. It’s a slow sinking ship, slow and smiling as the fascism that drives it. We may not notice it. But look all around you, the massive killing, the fraud, the lawlessness at every step, up to the highest levels of government. Forget the msm presstitute, they are lying.
Most everybody knows this today. The next few centuries or more, are the Age of the East – Russia and China are opening the gates for an Economy of Peace, led by President Xi Jinping’s initiative, the enormous multi-pronged OBI – One Belt Initiative, formerly the OBOR – One Belt One Road; a new Silk road that stretches from Shanghai to Hamburg and from Vladivostok to Lisbon and connecting Syria and Iran in the South.
Be brave! Dare to detach. Detach from the lie and fraud we have been living for the last two millennia, all the way back to the Roman Empire and which may be reaching soon a peak, a fiery and bloody peak which may end life as we know it in a nuclear all-annihilating holocaust. Because the dying beast may not want to leave survivors on this planet of ours.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America.
Chicago has already topped its 400th case of homicide so far this year. In the weekend of Aug. 12 and 13 alone, nine people have been reportedly killed. Eight of these killings were well within a 17-hour time frame on a Sunday, which involved both double and triple homicides.
This Sunday’s violence started when a 20-year-old man was gunned down during an argument in Old Town just after midnight. Another person was fatally shot at the Back of the Yard half an hour later. An off-duty police officer has also reportedly shot an 18-year-old man during a confrontation about 5:05 a.m. The confrontation occurred at the 11100 block of South Hermosa Avenue in the Morgan Park neighborhood on the Far South Side.
After a few hours, two men were fatally shot on the steps of Friendship Baptist Church in South Austin. Later in the afternoon, a man told authorities that he gunned down three people who allegedly broke into his home on the Southeast Side. According to the police, the victims were the victims were a 17-year-old boy, a 22-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman.
According to the Chicago Tribune data, at least 2,331 people have been shot in the city so far this year. There have also been at least 432 reported cases of homicides so far in 2017, the data showed.
Chicago, other big U.S.cities see upswing in homicide cases
According to the report, more than 3,000 homicides have already been reported so far this year, which marks a 3 percent increase during the same time last year. The survey also showed that the reported cases of aggravated assault so far this year was nearly 4,000 more compared with 2016. In line with this, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recently announced that the Justice Department put programs in place to reduce gun violence and illegal drug sales and combat gangs.
“The uptick in murders is a continuation of the violent crime wave seen over the past several years. A challenging priority for the Department of Justice is dismantling the criminal gangs, which function as the street-level drug distribution networks for transnational drug cartels and fuel much of the violence in our country through turf wars and violent drug trafficking. The Department of Justice is committed to working with law enforcement partners to reduce violence — not just through grant funding — but if jurisdictions deliberately and intentionally adopt policies that are hostile to and obstruct the rule of law, they create an even more dangerous environment that will not be fixed by simply throwing more money at a lawless system,” Justice Department spokesman Drew Hudson told The Washington Times online.
When editor-in-chief of the Atlantic Jeffrey Goldberg asserted that “the struggle in Charlottesville is a struggle within our own civilization, within Trump’s own civilization,” and that in the wake of such events “an American president should speak up directly on behalf of the American creed, on behalf of Americans who reject tribalism and seek pluralism, on behalf of the idea that blood-and-soil nationalism is antithetical to the American idea itself,” who, exactly, can place his logic?
It reads nicely, and it seems a conscionable thought to have after a woman dies fighting Nazis on American soil. But, really, what history books has Mr. Goldberg been reading?
“Our civilization’s” ongoing genocide against indigenous groups and the violently enforced systematic oppression of Black Americans notwithstanding, the US government – of which Trump is now Commander-in-Chief – has a storied and bloody history of assassinating foreign heads of state precisely because, democratically, a body of citizens or voters “seeking pluralism” elsewhere in the world had commenced down an antifascist political path that did not suit Washington’s interests.
Ariel Dorfman, for instance, reminisces of the 1970s presidential inauguration of Salvador Allende in Chile: “[A]lmost three years later, a few days after the Hawker Hunter planes under the control of General Pinochet attacked the palace on September 11, 1973. Their bombs left a black yawning gap where the balcony stood. Where the president once waved his handkerchief, there is nothing. Allende is dead. And we can sense that outside the frame, below where the balcony jutted out, there is only emptiness…”
Oh, were it so easy to condemn Trump for failing to say the “right thing” at the “right time” and to have that be the end of it. Is this what the Liberal pluribus desires from America’s much-detested Caesar? It may be enough to keep Rachel Maddow employed, but, unfortunately, the reason for the president’s neutrality on fascism is much more serious than this—and let there be no doubt that he, especially, is unaware of the profound impetus for his proven Nazi-sympathizing.
As we are thoroughly living in an oligarchy, we should turn to Deleuze to elucidate a root cause of the Oval Office’s reigning fascist bent: “The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods. It’s only a matter of administering their last rites and of keeping people employed until the installation of the new forces knocking at the door. These are the societies of control…”
Clearly, the rightward-leaning have shown a distinct susceptibility to every brand of hate-driven politics—and we should recall that the colonial residence of bigoted pilgrims did not predate the arrival of slave ships on American shores but followed one year later (1620 and 1619, respectively). Nevertheless, Liberals have their work cut out for them if they expect to right the ship of American democracy simply writing lukewarm editorials about “the American idea” and babyishly debating whether it is “ok” to punch Nazis in the face. In fact, our democracy is a ship that has always been listing! It has hardly been a democracy! And those who cry wolf because they think our political vessel is only now foundering really must have little-or-no experience with political organizing beyond the soothing environs of the yoga studio. Luckily for them, there is a very toothsome radical history they can get on board with.
Nearly a century ago, Spanish anarchist Buenaventura Durruti offered very valuable advice during an interview he gave with the Toronto Star: “No government in the world fights Fascism to the death. When the bourgeoisie sees power slipping from its grasp, it has recourse to Fascism to maintain itself. The Liberal Government of Spain could have rendered the Fascist elements powerless long ago. Instead it compromised and dallied. Even now at this moment, there are men in this Government who want to go easy on the rebels… We want revolution here in Spain, right now, not maybe after the next European war. We are giving Hitler and Mussolini far more worry with our revolution than the whole Red Army of Russia. We are setting an example to the German and Italian working class on how to deal with Fascism.”
Our fight against fascism requires that we also set an example for the world. Huffing and puffing about what Trump says or fails to say is superficial. Of course, it is much easier than mounting a revolution to fight fascism to the death. And just how many bourgeois liberals are willing to pony-up?
Kim Kelly is an editor at Noisey, VICE’s music and culture channel, and is based in New York City.
July 21, 2017
On June 12, 2017, New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP) added a new name to its list of “domestic terrorist” threats: Antifa.
The report characterises “Antifa” as a group of “anarchist extremists” who “focus on issues involving racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism, as well as other perceived injustices,” a half-baked definition, while technically accurate, is far from comprehensive. Unlike the other American entities that have earned this dubious distinction (and despite what hysterical FOX News hosts like to shrill), Antifa isn’t an organised group, a gang, or even a society.
Antifa – shorthand for anti-fascist – isn’t an organisation at all; it’s an idea, one that’s been knocking around since the 1930s and that has found newfound relevance on our shores since the rise of Trumpism and the current administration’s sharp pivot towards the far right. It’s also one of the few bulwarks left against the rapid growth of America’s white supremacist movement, a development that seems to leave the state, the authorities, and the police wholly unconcerned.
Given the simmering threat of violence, police are a constant fixture at the now routine public clashes where the far left meets alt-right in the drawn-out battle for the soul of Trump’s America. During these rowdy protests and counterprotests, there’s often nothing but a thin blue line in riot gear separating the twain, armed to the teeth and bearing pepper spray, sound cannons, and L-RADs alongside their firearms.
That line holds when it’s escorting Ku Klux Klan members or acting as a barrier between alt-right attention-seekers and black-clad Antifa protesters, but becomes awfully porous when it wants to be. I’ve witnessed many instances in which non-violent, masked protesters find themselves beaten or behind bars while Trump devotees and white nationalists brandishing Confederate flags and wearing flag bandanas (do those masks not count?) are herded into safe spaces and given police protection at protests.
While both sides have been known to employ violent tactics, there’s a double standard at work; for example, critics of the black bloc have been oddly silent about the gun-toting Klansmen in Charlottesville and the National Rifle Association’s bloodthirsty threats masquerading as advertisements. The police seem to know who they want to target, and somehow it’s never the old white men wrapped in American flags or spotty teenagers in Roman warrior cosplay.
One of the more interesting tidbits in an accompanying NJ OHSP report, titled The Face of White Supremacy in 2017, noted that, “NJ OHSP assesses white supremacist extremists remain a moderate threat to New Jersey. Since January, white supremacist extremists conducted four attacks, one plot, and three stockpiling incidents across the United States”. The write-up mentions several white supremacist groups like Identity Evropa and Vanguard America, noting their campaigns to intimidate and recruit at New Jersey universities; curiously, militia groups like the Oathkeepers, 3 Percenters, and Patriot Prayer and gangs like 211 and the Proud Boys are not mentioned, despite their violent track records and penchant for harassment.
With all of this tension and violence percolating throughout the country, placing Antifa in the same category as hatemongers like ISIS, the KKK, and Identity Evropa is not only disingenuous, it’s patently absurd.
In the report on Antifa, though, there are no such warnings; instead, the report seems to grasp at straws to justify its own existence. It cites out-of-state incidents in Berkeley and Sacramento to illustrate the perceived threat, while a “small fight” on March 28 serves as the sole example of Antifa allegedly causing problems in New Jersey.
If anything, the OHSP’s efforts show that Antifa’s more disruptive tactics are a direct response to the danger posed by white supremacists, et al: “Violent confrontations between Antifa members and white supremacists – as well as militia groups – will likely continue because of ideological differences and Antifa’s ability to organise on social media. In the past year, Antifa groups have become active across the United States, employing a variety of methods to disrupt demonstrations.”
Why, then, has Governor Chris Christie and his cohorts decided to brand a loose group of anti-fascist, anti-racist, anti-Trump protesters as “domestic terrorists”? As he’s made quite clear over the course of his fitful eight-year term, Christie is not overly concerned with the well-being of the people of New Jersey, and certainly doesn’t give a fig about how the state’s marginalised communities are coping under the Trump administration’s draconian policies.
He does, however, care about currying favour with the boss, glumly playing lapdog to the petty tyrant who inadvertently launched one of 2017’s most delightful oxymorons by whining about “professional anarchists” ruining his paltry inauguration party. Demonising resistance wins Christie a few of those coveted “law and order” points, and makes him look like he’s actually doing something besides wasting taxpayer money and worming his way into the sports radio circuit.
Here, Christie is indulging in a perverse kind of “virtue signalling”, that favourite alt-right insult. By taking a specific stand against “Antifa” and using state resources to do it, Christie and his pals are saying, “Any enemy of Trump’s is an enemy of mine” and working to tamp down any signs of rebellion against their guy – even if it means tacitly turning a blind eye to the white supremacist organising that bears a far, far greater threat to the American people than the actions of ultimately utopian anarchist anti-fascists.
A win for the right wing
It’s telling that right-wing conspiracy theory site InfoWars and other alt-right blogs celebrated the NJ OHSP report; it was a definite win for them since they view any effort to delegitimise those they oppose as an endorsement for their own rancid ideologies.
It’s no surprise that conservative politicians are pulling out all the stops to quash dissent. They benefit the most from America’s ingrained white supremacist heteropatriarchy, and any challenge to their place at the top of the totem pole isn’t going to be met with open arms. Silence against the white supremacist threat signals complicity and is especially dangerous given the power that racist white nationalists like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller wield in the White House and the explosion of hate crimes that have rocked marginalised communities since Trump came to power.
In May, the Trump administrationslashed funding for 30 organisations – including six police departments – that work to counter white supremacist extremism; anti-Muslim hate crimes have risen 91 percentsince he took office, while anti-Semitic hate crimes have surged 86 percent; this year has seen the murders of 15 trans women of colour, while 54 unarmedblack people have been killed by police since January 2017.
With all of this tension and violence percolating throughout the country, placing Antifa in the same category as hatemongers like ISIL, the KKK, and Identity Evropa is not only disingenuous, it’s patently absurd. The whole situation sounds like a rejected Sean Hannity bit, and yet, here we are.
An ongoing pattern
This cockamamie “domestic terrorist” ploy is part of an ongoing pattern. The mass arrests that took centre stage at Trump’s inauguration have set a worrisome precedent for his administration’s treatment of dissenters, as does the fact that over 200 protesters are still facing a bevy of felony chargesthat could land some in prison for 70 to 80 years.
In a throwback to the way lawmakers attempted to hobble labour organising in the 19th and 20th centuries, Republican politicians in 18 states haveintroduced legislation aimed at curtailing the ability to protest, and the president himself often lashes out publicly at anyone who dares to question him or his policies.
Even worse is the growing sense that, despite the expectation of impartiality that the adage “protect and serve” might inspire, as agents of the state – especially this incarnation of the state – the police cannot be trusted to protect protesters on both the left and the right.
Whether they’re turning a blind eye to violence (as I saw first-hand at a recent “March Against Sharia” counterprotest and myriad other protests in New York City), treating neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK with kid gloves, arresting Antifa and left-wing protesters on trumped-up charges, or reacting with seemingly arbitrary excessive force, it’s become exceedingly apparent to those on the left that the cops do not have our best interests in mind. Whether that’s because they’re following orders from up top or acting on their own prejudices remains to be seen, but it paints an ugly picture no matter what the impetus.
“Cops and Klan go hand in hand,” goes the sing-songy old protest chant that’s long been a staple at political demonstrations and protests – a battle cry that aims to infuriate its targets while galvanising those who stand in opposition.
Like any good slogan, it boils down a complicated belief system into a short, sharp shock of verbal ammunition that neatly encapsulates the anarchist viewpoint that the police are a jackbooted instrument of state repression, equating the men and women in blue with Klansman’s white hoods.
While this viewpoint may be difficult for many to stomach in a world where “Blue Lives Matter” is a popular T-shirt design, I implore you: watch the footage of Charlottesville police officers forming a protective phalanx around a small group of unapologetically sieg-heiling Klansmen to keep them away from crowds of angry protesters, and tell me just who the cops – and their bosses – are really trying to protect and serve.
Kim Kelly’s writings on music, culture, and politics have appeared in the Guardian, NPR, the Atlantic, Rolling Stone, VICE, and Pitchfork, among others. She’s currently an editor at Noisey, VICE’s music and culture channel, and is based in New York City.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.
Venezuela is heading towards an increasingly dangerous situation, in which open civil war could become a real possibility. So far over 100 people have been killed as a result of street protests, most of these deaths are the fault of the protesters themselves (to the extent that we know the cause). The possibility of civil war becomes more likely as long the international media obscure who is responsible for the violence and as long as the international left remains on the sidelines in this conflict and fails to show solidarity with the Bolivarian socialist movement in Venezuela.
If the international left receives its news about Venezuela primarily from the international media, it is understandable why it is being so quiet. After all, this mainstream media consistently fails to report who is instigating the violence in this conflict. For example, a follower of CNN or the New York Times would not know that of the 103 who have been killed as a result of street protests, 27 were the direct or indirect result of the protesters themselves. Another 14 were the result of lootings, in one prominent case because looters set fire to a store and ended up getting engulfed in the flames themselves. 14 deaths are attributable to the actions of state authorities (where in almost all cases those responsible have been charged), and 44 are still under investigation or in dispute. This is according to data from the office of the Attorney General, which itself has recently become pro-opposition.
In other words, it is possible that much of the international left has been misled about the violence in Venezuela, into thinking that the government is the only one responsible, that President Maduro has declared himself to be dictator for life (when he actually confirmed that the presidential elections scheduled for late 2018 will proceed as planned), or that all dissent is being punished with prison (when a major opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, who was partly responsible for the post-election violence in 2014 was just released from prison, now under house arrest). If this is the reason for the silence on Venezuela, then the left should be ashamed for not having read its own critiques of the mainstream media.
All of the foregoing does not contradict that there are plenty of places where one might criticize the Maduro government for having made mistakes with regard to how it has handled the current situation, both economically and politically. However, criticisms (of which I have made several myself) do not justify taking either a neutral or pro-opposition stance in this momentous conflict. As the South African anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Perhaps the Venezuelan case is also confusing to outsiders because President Maduro is in power and the opposition is not. It could thus be difficult to see the opposition as being an “oppressor.” However, for an internationalist left it should not be so confusing. After all, the opposition in Venezuela receives significant support not only from private business, but also from the US government, the international right, and transnational capital.
Perhaps progressives feel that the Maduro government has lost all democratic legitimacy and that this is why they cannot support it. According to the mainstream media coverage, Maduro canceled regional elections scheduled for December 2016, prevented the recall referendum from happening, and neutralized the National Assembly. Let’s take a brief look at each of these claims one by one.
First, regional elections (state governors and mayors) were indeed supposed to take place in late 2016, but the National Electoral Council (CNE) postponed them with the argument that political parties needed to re-register first. Leaving aside the validity of this argument, the CNE rescheduled the elections recently for December 2017. This postponement of a scheduled election is not unprecedented in Venezuela because it happened before, back in 2004, when local elections were postponed for a full year. Back then, at the height of President Chávez’s power, hardly anyone objected.
As for the recall referendum, it was well known that it would take approximately ten months to organize between its initiation and its culmination. However, the opposition initiated the process in April 2016, far too late for the referendum to take place in 2016, as they wanted (because if it takes place in 2017 there would be no new presidential election, according to the constitution, and the vice-president takes over for the remainder of the term).
Finally, with regard to the disqualification of the National Assembly, this was another self-inflicted wound on the part of the opposition. That is, even though the opposition had won 109 out of 167 seats (65%) outright, they insisted on swearing in three opposition members whose election was in dispute because of fraud claims. As a result, the Supreme Court ruled that until these three members are removed, most decisions of the national assembly would not be valid.
In other words, none of the arguments against the democratic legitimacy of the Maduro government hold much water. More than that, polls repeatedly indicate that even though Maduro is fairly unpopular, a majority of Venezuelans want him to finish his term in office, which expires in January 2019. As a matter of fact, Maduro’s popularity is not as low as several other (conservative) presidents in Latin America at the moment, such as that of Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto (17% in March, 2017), Brazil’s Michel Temer (7% in June, 2017), or Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos (14% in June, 2017). Compare these to Nicolas Maduro’s 24% approval rating in March 2017.
Now that we have addressed the possible reasons why the international left has been reluctant to show solidarity with the Maduro government and the Bolivarian socialist movement, we need to examine what “neutrality” in this situation would end up meaning – in other words, what allowing the opposition to come to power via an illegal and violent transition would mean.
First and foremost, their coming to power will almost certainly mean that all Chavistas – whether they currently support President Maduro or not – will become targets for persecution. Although it was a long time ago, many Chavistas have not forgotten the “Caracazo,” when in February 1989, then-president Carlos Andrés Perez meted out retaliation on poor neighborhoods for protesting against his government and wantonly killed somewhere between 400 and 1,000 people. More recently, during the short-lived coup against President Chávez in April 2002 the current opposition showed it was more than willing to unleash reprisals against Chavistas. Most do not know this, but during the two-day coup regime over 60 Chavistas were killed in Venezuela (this figure does not include the 19 killed in the lead-up to the coup, on both sides of the political divide). The post-election violence of April 2013 left 7 dead, and the Guarimbas of February to April 2014 left 43 dead. Although the dead in each of these cases represented a mix of opposition supporters, Chavistas, and non-involved bystanders, in almost all of these cases the majority belonged to the Chavista side of the political divide. Now, during the most recent wave of guarimbas, there have also been several incidents where a Chavista was too close to an opposition protest were chased and killed because protesters recognized them to be a Chavista in some way.
In other words, the danger that Chavistas will be persecuted more generally if the opposition should take over the government is very real. Even though the opposition includes reasonable individuals who would not support such a persecution, the current leadership of the opposition has done nothing to reign in the fascist tendencies within its own ranks. If anything, they have encouraged these tendencies.
Second, even though the opposition has not published a concrete plan for what it intends to do once in government (which is also one of the reasons why the opposition remains almost as unpopular among the general population as the government), individual statements by opposition leaders indicate that they would immediately proceed to implement a neoliberal economic program along the lines of President Temer in Brazil or Mauricio Macri in Argentina. They might succeed in reducing inflation and shortages this way, but at the expense of eliminating subsidies and social programs for the poor across the board. Also, they would roll back all of the policies supporting communal councils and communes that have been a cornerstone of participatory democracy in the Bolivarian revolution.
So, instead of silence, neutrality, or indecision from the international left in the current conflict in Venezuela, what is needed is active solidarity with the Bolivarian socialist movement. Such solidarity means vehemently opposing all efforts to overthrow the government of President Maduro during his current presidential term in office. Aside from the patent illegality that the Maduro government’s overthrow would represent, it would also be a literally deadly blow to Venezuela’s socialist movement and to the legacy of President Chávez. The international left does not even need to take a position on whether the proposed constitutional assembly or negotiations with the opposition is the best way to resolve the current crisis. That is really up to Venezuelans to decide. Opposing intervention and disseminating information on what is actually happening in Venezuela, though, are the two things where non-Venezuelans can play a constructive role.
While Silicon Valley seems obsessed by ‘blood boys’, its another part of the world that appears to have gone full Mad Max. As the following clip shows a gang of bikers chase down and attack a truck (with molotov cocktails) to steal its sugar payload…