This text is written from an anarchist analysis in response to the demo in Seattle, which was for five murders (now six) committed by the police in the general Puget Sound area. The text here is seen as more of a drawing of points for a larger discussion to occur on the very idea of the police, their role, place in society, and a strategy of how to act next:
A demo was held in response to the murder of John T. Williams in Seattle. This demo started at the corner where John was murdered, Howell and Boren, a busy intersection a few blocks away from downtown. Diverse groups of people and individuals were present. In attendance were those who consider themselves anarchists or anti-authoritarians expressing solidarity against the murder with the family and friends of John as well as people from the streets and the front group for the RCP* – the October 22nd Coalition**.
The October 22nd Coalition are the ones that organized the demo for that day. They dominated the megaphone during the entirety of the demo, expressing that “these bad cops need to be held accountable” and that “there needs to be justice for the murder of John T. Williams”. Even during the walk to the West Seattle Police Precinct, they took the lead on their megaphone chanting “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”. Anarchists began taking over the chants during the breaks in the megaphone, chanting, “Cops, Pigs, Murderers!” and “No Justice, No Peace, Fuck the Police!”. Those there could feel the change in the air. The crowd seemed to become angrier and physically more pissed off. Middle fingers went up in the air from family members, anarchists, and people on the street. RCP stopped chanting for those moments, only to take over a few minutes later.
It is quite obvious that they, October 22nd Coalition, are a front group for the RCP. During the beginning of the demo that day, and at the precinct, many of their papers titled “Revolution”, where handed out. Nearing the end of the demo they played a tape of Bob Avakian's (one of the chair members of the RCP) speech about the police. Many of the members present at the demo spouted on and on about their rhetoric of revolution and needing to create a workers party through individual conversations as well as in megaphone speeches. Members were also denouncing the chants that where more explicitly targeting the police for their “profane content” and telling us that we cannot get violent. Space was given to those to express their anger against the police. Some people spoke with a concise verbal analysis of the police, defining them as terrorists on the streets who target homeless, poor, and people of color. One women, in response to the RCPers, told them not to tell her to calm down nor to use explicit language. The RCP members had looks of disdain and uneasiness as this women spoke. After that the RCPers took back the megaphone, one member corralled the crowd by saying we need to follow “this man's (Bob Avakian) ideas and his revolution”. By that time the numbers had dwindled to around thirty people from the crowd of about seventy.
Clearly the October 22nd Coalition has demands for using the same “justice system” that murdered John to hold the police accountable. How can the same system that lets off police time and again, be used to hold the police accountable? BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle can be a more recent example of the way this “justice system” holds the police accountable for their actions (though he has not been let off entirely and is still going through the legal procedures).
As an anarchist I am against any form of large scale organizing (coalitions, platforms, or parties - more specifically the many mutated forms of the left) and see the form of organizing most pertinent to these situations as one that is determined by the few individuals sharing a certain reciprocal affinity. This can be an intermingling of other individuals who have a desire to act similarly in those situations. I also see that those who desire a similar project or idea of conflict against the state and do not want their practice to be mediated by the state, do not rally behind a specific political discourse or any form that a recuperative element could take.
The act of taking the street is a clear defiance of the normality of everyday life, which even at this demo did not happen. Taking the street should not be seen as a meager attempt at some form of “protest” unless it is just that; taking the street temporarily for some time in a small cry of outrage against a vast landscape of alienation. One's power, whether it be as a group of individuals or an individual, can take the space which capital habtitates continually, but it needs to push outside of those specific limitations.
I don't see it as a simplistic equation that 1 + 1 = a. I don't believe one action reaches a specific point where another step will inevitably follow, such as a ladder. Each situation has a dynamic ability to it and an essence of difference. A certain social intuition can be felt and a qualitative change begins to be seen as the social fabric begins to degrade around us. There can be a constellation in a sea of actions acting autonomously from one another. A burning barricade is a erected in one place; another group attacks the police from behind and from the front; others find themselves liberating a store front of certain commodities, as others throw molotovs against physical manifestations of the police. I do not believe that community policing programs nor cop watches are the answer or that there are any “answers”. These types of demands are pre-constructed dead ends. There is no need to speak truth to power that has no desire to listen.
I feel we need to move away from stating the obvious to people who already understand mentally and physically the acts of the police. Police brutality, murders by the police, and the entire police apparatus itself as an armed assemblage of the state is not just going to disappear. It is not an accident that these structures exist, they did not just appear suddenly. They are part of a history of continued domination and exploitation over our lives through capitalism, colonization, gentrification, racism and a class system.
How do we as anarchist intervening and agitating these situations empower those to act without mediation or large scale organizations? How do we move from these recuperative elements of “political struggle”? Can we take territories or spaces not as places to feel comfortable or safe in, but to physically attack the police? Furthermore, what about society, the state, capital, civilization and these ever expanding spaces of alienated social relationships? Can an entire West Coast light up in flames of solidarity? I leave with these questions not simply to read once and leave at that but to continue again and again by experimenting with a multiplicity of action/s such as, a general assembly for certain neighborhoods, strategic attacks, or demos to express our collective power. When do we begin? When to act? And how?
For freedom and social war.
- An Anonymous Anarchist.
*Revolutionary Communist Party – originally known as the Communist Union, a Maoist Communist party formed in 1975 in the United States.
**October 22nd Coalition - The October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation has been mobilizing every year since 1996 for a National Day of Protest on October 22nd, bringing together those under the gun and those not under the gun as a powerful voice to expose the epidemic of police brutality. (http://www.october22.org/