is nothing but a continuation of politics by other means." – von Clausewitz
is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed."
ANGELES) Immigration activist Roberto Lovato was there when the Los Angeles
Police Department launched its brutal assault on a park full of migrant families
with children last week in LA, and this is what he saw and understood. "I saw
the LAPD," he wrote "dragging the immigrants and the entire country into
dangerous terrain, a new threshold in the immigration war raging
around the country."
saw was more than an Iraq-style surge; this was an all out escalation, a new
strategic plateau in the U.S. government’s War on Migrants.
Rodriguez, an immigration activist with L.A’s March 25th Coalition,
called it a "political decision" to "dismantle this [immigrant rights]
year, in 2006, millions of migrant and their allies – their familia
– took the streets, giving birth to the most powerful mass movement in the
U.S. since the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s and 70s.
movement stunned the US ruling class, drove the deepest of wedges straight into
the heart of a seemingly unstoppable neo–con drive toward fascism, exposed the
essential brutality and racism at the core of the Republican, neo–con agenda,
began the public unraveling of the Bush regime, and opened the door to the
stunning exposure, repudiation and defeat of the neo-cons in the House and
Senate, who had led the racist charge to make felons of all undocumented
migrants – and of anyone who so much as gave a ride to someone undocumented.
their counterparts in the 60s era, the reactionaries of today saw the
unmistakable outlines of the threat presented by brown resistance to their power
and their drive toward a fascistic state. Like the reactionaries of that era,
they moved to kill the movement with mass arrests and state intimidation. Only
this time, it wasn’t the FBI, COINTELPRO, the murders or imprisonment of Black
leaders, or the mass incarceration of Black and other peoples of color that the
State relied on. This time, it was the department of Homeland Security, ICE, and
a strategy of direct vengeance – the deliberate terrorization of the millions
who had taken the streets and who had precipitated the collapse of the
methodology was not the one the reactionaries used to crush AIM on the Pine
Ridge Lakota Reservation in the 70s, or in Guatemala and El Salvador, nations
from which many of today’s migrants fled – no death squads yet this year.
rather, the weapons include mass raids on meat packing plants, pre-dawn raids by
ICE agents on people’s homes, incarceration in prisons thousands of miles away
from lawyers, families and friends, and the terrorization of small children
whose parents had been locked away, or who were themselves taken into custody
and locked up like felons in federal prisons with their mothers and fathers.
this year’s pro-migrant demonstrations were dramatically smaller than those
last year came as no surprise to the movement’s leadership.
Shortly before the pro-migrant demonstrations on May Day this year,
Panama Alba, an immigrants’ rights activist with New York’s May 1st
Coalition, spoke plainly of the
impact of the government’s effort to crush the new movement. "In light of the raids, any migrant who steps into the streets is a
hero or heroine," he said.
signal-sending, intimidation and terrorization didn’t stop with secretive
raids on people’s homes in the dead of night or on isolated factories and
packing plants. Chicago, the city that set the pace for last year’s massive
protests, faced a new reality this year, when, a week before the scheduled mass
protests of May 1, ICE carried out its first mass raid in a public place, a
shopping mall in the heart of the
Mexican American district La Villita,
marching into the mall with bullet proof vests and carrying M-16 military
assault rifles, shutting down the mall, and holding brown employees and
customers alike for questioning at gunpoint, while letting whites go free. A
Chicago immigrants rights activist said, "They sat people down on the ground
and busted down bathroom doors . . . Only 12 people were arrested in Chicago, but
there were 250 people being held. But people didn’t run away. They were
furious and we started protesting immediately.'
Los Angeles, the storm center of the national struggle for migrant’s rights,
the LAPD, under the leadership of the nation’s "top cop," Republican
police chief William Bratton, made another strategic intervention aimed at
nationwide intimidation of the new movement; a brutal, no holds barred, clearly
premeditated, tight and highly disciplined police assault on an entirely
peaceful gathering of migrant families with children – hundreds of children
– in MacArthur Park – an assault involving some 600 cops who struck
pedestrians with moving motorcycles, and who, while marching in close formation,
fired uncounted volumes of tear gas and volley after volley of rubber bullets
from "less lethal weapons," shooting indiscriminately into the crowd,
waiting on cue and in unison for the crowd before them to retreat, while
viciously clubbing journalists, smashing cameras, and striking anyone else they
could strike with repeated blows from batons. Seventy people were injured and
sent to hospitals. Despite LAPD claims that the attack was in reaction to having
been pelted with plastic water bottles and rocks by young "agitators", and
despite the hundreds of police present, not a single arrest was made. While the
young people did, very bravely, hold a protective line between the cops and the
families under attack – taking the brunt of police violence on their own
bodies, the assault on the migrant families was in no way "provoked," any
more than the ICE raid in the Chicago mall was provoked.
assault has been compared to the infamous and racist repression unleashed by
police chief Bull Conner of Birmingham, Alabama against the Civil Rights
movement when the Old South was still the Old South. African
American writer Anthony
Abdullah Samad says of Bratton, "He'll never be able to explain away the
rubber bullets hitting women and children. No more than Bull Connor could
justify turning fire hoses and dogs on women and children in Birmingham in
whole point was to incite widespread terror and intimidation - that’s
precisely why no one – not children, not journalists, not pregnant women, was
spared from the onslaught. Far from the LAPD being once again "exposed" as
the nation’s most brutal pigs, the worldwide media coverage, especially and
intensely concentrated on Spanish language TV in the U.S., was a public
relations coup of a high order for those bent on striking fear and crushing any
further resistance to pre-dawn raids, the plans for massive construction of new
immigration prisons, the further incarceration of children in a Texas-style
Guantanamo, or the even more massive raids and mass deportations to come.
powers that be could not have picked a more chilling place from which to have
signaled their brutal message to the pro migrant movement. LA has the largest
population of migrants in the nation, and a Chican@ mayor and political
establishment with a level of power unrivalled by Brown people anywhere in the
nation – no where else in the U.S. can migrant populations expect the kind of
sympathy and support that is ostensibly available in LA. But LA mayor Antonio
Villaraigosa, a "rising star" of the Democratic Party, rode last year in a
Pacific Palisades parade that included in its official entourage a contingent
from the "Minuteman Project," and kept his political distance as police
stormed the South Central Farm, brutally uprooting supporters of the many
migrant families who had grown their food there until faced with eviction in a
shady deal that involved secret deals and City Council improprieties.
Mayor, after facing intense criticism for his appearance at last year’s
million- plus march in downtown LA, arranged to be out of town for this year’s
year, it was only after criticism of the LAPD reached a red hot crescendo that
the Mayor returned from a trip abroad on "city business" to denounce the
LAPD attack as a human rights violation, and to attempt to quell any mass "unrest" that might be brewing.
Chief Bill Bratton, in the meantime, is having none of the Mayor's human
rights rhetoric. Two high ranking LAPD officers have been reassigned, while
Bratton has pointed to "tactical errors," falsely implying the cops were
"out of control" rather than fulfilling a strategic political imperative of
the Bush regime. But the cops were not out of control, this was no police riot;
the police were acting with discipline on direct orders from Bratton’s Deputy
Chiefs, making it clear that the planning for the police assault occurred at the
highest levels, in all probability in meetings with Bratton himself, who has
strong ties to the Department of "Homeland Security," and who has been
mentioned as a potential candidate to head the DHS under George W. Bush.
Bratton to land that post, he would not only head up the government’s internal
spying program, but would be the ultimate head of ICE, and responsible for
carrying out Homeland Security’s "Operation
Endgame," with its objective of raiding, rounding up, imprisoning and
deporting millions of migrants.
1, at MacArthur Park, Bratton may have proven himself "fit" for just such a
meantime, if legislation now before Congress is approved, local police,
including the LAPD, would have the authority,
and funding from the Department of Homeland Security to carry out public raids
in areas where migrants concentrate; to act as local enforcers of national laws
on immigration, to help carry out the mass deportations of brown people that
Operation Endgame implies. That’s the plan. That’s the trajectory.
Conversely, if no legislation is passed this year, and no moratorium on raids is
declared, Operation Endgame remains the official policy of the DHS and ICE. In
the absence of any other plan, Bush’s raids can only intensify, and do so with
the aim of fulfilling the goals of Endgame; it will be the only policy on the
attacks in LA and Chicago were by no means random, and by no means local in
their meaning or impact. The neo-con powers that be brought forth their latest
"surge" in the War on Migrants and the Chican@ community, and signaled with
unmistakable clarity their intent to crush the movement that has cost them so
much and that has threatened the stability of their rule.
escalation of the War on Migrants, and the plan to bring police into the battle
at a national level – a move backed by Republicans and Democrats alike –
means that from the standpoint of the white power elite of the U.S. – despite
the rhetoric of one wing of the pro migrant movement – "we are not
America – que "NO somos
America." It means that the white power elite views migrants as a
dangerous force for political instability and for undermining the white cultural
dominance of the U.S.. It means that migrants and the pro migrant movement are
the targets of America, no matter how many US flags are waved, how much
English is spoken, or how much profit is provided for the exploiters.
vulnerability of the system – its open embarrassment at being
exposed for it brutal machinations, its efforts to cover its tracks,
means that it is only resistance and exposure that the system fears, and that
only resistance and exposure will cause it to back down from draconian measures,
just as it sought to distance itself from the openly fascistic Sensenbrenner
bill in 2006.
resistance can take many forms – barrio Migra Watch/ Ojo a la Migra
committees, the continuing establishment of Sanctuary cities and Sanctuary
churches, the planning of escape routes and the setting up of defense committees
in factories and other workplaces – and marches, many more marches, to demand
the end of raids and deportations, the firing of LAPD Chief Bratton, full
legalization of all, and the end to the exploitation of Latin American and other
third world economies by US finance capital. Without such open and defiant
resistance, the system will concede nothing, and the future will hold nothing
other than more brutality, more raids, more vigilantes like the Minutemen, more
destroyed families, and a more openly racist culture ruled with the iron fist
from the Right.