Ferguson: Thug Illusion in a Media Revolution

[In the US in recent years, the prominence of the repressive arm of the state has grown to a larger scope than ever before.  The occupation of Black and Brown communities, migrant communities, of increasingly and permanently vulnerable communities of occasional and unstable work, of displaced and homeless communities, youth castaways from schools and jobs, from broken families and internally abusive communities, have all suffered from repeated rounds of criminalization, police violence and mass incarceration.  Such attacks have been endorsed, promoted and justified in daily hysterical media accounts, in political and religious and cultural campaigns for ever-enlarging police forces, for overt and covert racist profiling, for militarization of police, and for multiplying the surveillance and snitch networks.  Opposition to these measures has also grown, and protest movements have also become major targets for political suppression and for beatings, arrests, and killings by cops, all reaching epidemic levels.

Not only does this repression hit at the increasingly re-proletarianized sections of the so-called “middle class” but many from the most oppressed peoples have joined the new and recurrent protest movements, at great personal risk.  Those who have histories of arrests and imprisonment and participation in many illegal and semi-legal pursuits have along with other sectors become politicized and have joined together to change the system.  In a number of cities, gang members have pointedly and significantly stood together, in de facto truces with each other, to defend their communities from attack – a pattern rarely, if ever, reported.  If anything, the twisted reports which occur in the media, are always of the horrifying and frightening “thuggishness” of protest movements.  This is a central ingredient of the media assault on all militant protest movements which now terms such protests as “terrorist.” 

The following article from revolution-news.com, describes these features as they have been seen in Ferguson, Missouri, and in the protest movements that have grown nationwide in recent months.  A largely untold story, we appreciate the courage of revolution-news in bringing it to light.  —  Frontlines ed.]

2/16/2015, Revolution News

“The revolution won’t be televised ya’ll know that.
And if it does get televised they gonna make it look as bad as possible.” – Shoota

The nationwide protests after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson have brought much needed attention to issues of institutional racism, police brutality and the killing of unarmed black men across the US. The #BlackLivesMatter protests have also brought people together and created unity in black communities throughout the country.

Mainstream media (MSM) broadcast images from Ferguson of stores being looted and buildings up in flames. The images shown in MSM succeeded in creating a massive media spectacle. MSM combined with some elements in social media also managed to push false narratives into the public discourse regarding who exactly was in the Ferguson streets and what they were doing there. The narrative that “thugs” were causing destruction and mayhem in Ferguson was amplified in MSM in attempts to smear and discredit the #BlackLivesMatter protests. But who are these so-called “thugs” running amok in Missouri? Continue reading

When Are Violent Protests Justified?

 [The New York Times is not starting this discussion, but noting that many are raising the question of mass violence (and a challenge to the “non-violent” mantra) in the wake of repeated state violence against oppressed people and popular protests.  This is a discussion long held, but growing and intensifying, as growing numbers of revolutionary activists discard polite appeals to an oppresive system, and take more active and determined steps.     —  Frontlines ed.]
By    | opinion | New York Times

Credit: Jim Young | Reuters

Demonstrators in New York and around the country, angered by a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, have seized on Mr. Garner’s last words as a rallying chant: “I can’t breathe.”

Some observers noted a chance congruence between those words and a quotation from the influential Martinique-born philosopher of anti-colonialism Frantz Fanon: “We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.”

The demonstrations last week coincided with the New York release of “Concerning Violence,” a film by the Swedish documentarian Goran Hugo Olsson that serves as a sort of introduction to Fanon’s ideas. To Mr. Olsson, who was in New York promoting the film last week and who took the opportunity to participate in several marches, the similarity between the protesters’ chant and Fanon’s text was not a coincidence, he told Op-Talk.

Continue reading