Now is the Time – Community Self-Defense
Statement from First of May Anarchist Alliance, Nov 25, 2015
Last night’s shooting of several protesters by suspected white supremacists at the Justice for Jamar encampment outside the 4th precinct police station on the North side of Minneapolis was a major escalation of racist violence against the Black community here and reflective of a dangerous polarization taking place across the country.
We must understand the shooting last night where 5 protesters were wounded as an attempt to snuff out and repress the dynamic movement that has developed out of the campaign to win Justice for Jamar Clark (the unarmed young Black man shot in the head and killed by MPD while in hand-cuffs in mid-November). The Black-led, multi-racial movement has included an encampment outside and occupation inside the front of the northside 4th police precinct, mass blockade of a major interstate highway, and militant direct action against the station. The encampment has created an alternative community with donated and shared food, alternative media, political discussions, tactical arguments, and human bonding around the many bonfires deep into the night.
The sanctioning of the racist gunmen by the cops on duty at the station last night was apparent. Protesters who pleaded for help were ignored or mocked. These cops hate the north Minneapolis community and the movement for justice that has exposed police brutality. Both the liberal police chief, with her lies about “outside agitators” and the fascist police federation president, with his calls for a crackdown on the protesters, gave license to these racists who had made several appearances at the protests to carry out their attacks. Furthermore, the Presidential political campaign has given legitimacy to racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, and Islamophobic rhetoric and violence.
We believe that this movement must not be intimidated or allowed to be coaxed into a more “respectable” (read: controlled) political process in the aftermath of this attack. There is no safety in conciliation and retreat. Instead we need to draw the sober lesson that we cannot and should not depend on the same institution for protection that we accuse of murder, brutality, and injustice. We must immediately begin building the foundations of real Community Self-Defense – both for the safety of the movement today and to start creating permanent alternatives to racist policing.
While we are proud of our work building workplace, anti-fascist, and anti-eviction defense organizations and have great affinity with the IWW African Peoples Caucus and General Defense Committee, our organized forces remain relatively small. Community Self-Defense will require encouraging and embracing many, many more people from churches and mosques, unions and student groups, GLBT groups and street organizations in a common effort.
The project must be based on collective self-reliance, self-management and self-defense. There must be room for democratic debate and decision making and accountability to the communities and movements in which they are based – while also taking security very seriously. There must be a spirit of solidarity and a refusal to replicate the racist, sexist and homophobic permanent police officers. We need to be connected with the various other important struggles for education and living wages, against gentrification and evictions. And finally we need an understanding of what we are up against and what it will take to win.
For us, as anarchists, that means a revolutionary struggle, controlled by the grassroots (not by top-down leaders), against this system of exploitation and oppression and the government and police that protects it.
It’s a big task, and Community Self-Defense is where we begin.