Sunday, October 2, 2011

Protesters Expose Role of the State

By Tony Murphy
New York
Published Sep 28, 2011 5:32 PM

Events of the past week have made it easy to see who is considered a criminal under the for-profit system known as capitalism.

Today, where are the architects of the war in Iraq, who lied about weapons of mass destruction and tortured people at Abu Ghraib? On book tours, or enjoying retirement.

What happened to the Wall Street gamblers who caused the foreclosure epidemic, forcing people out of their homes and crashing the economy? The government bailed them out — of course.

Yet, how were activists with the Occupy Wall Street movement treated as they marched on Sept. 24 through New York streets to protest war, unemployment and racism? They were tackled, punched, choked, tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and arrested by the police.

That day upwards of 100 protesters were thrown in jail. Two days later, as of Sept. 26, many had not yet been released.

From the moment that hundreds of activists gathered at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan for a protest that targeted the New York Stock Exchange, and then marched two miles to Union Square, the New York Police Department harassed them.

While cops at first picked off individual marchers and arrested them one by one, the crowd grew to more than 1,000. As the protest then left Union Square to head back to Zuccotti Park, cops moved violently to shut the whole thing down. They threw punches, and pepper-sprayed and maced people in the face. Using gigantic orange nets to seal off 12th Street between University Place and Fifth Avenue, they split the march.

Uniformed and plainclothes cops threw people to the ground, or tripped and kicked them. The Internet is chock-full of photos and videos showing the brutal police crackdown.

The suffering caused by Wall Street and the for-profit system is forcing people to go into the streets in cities all over the country, whether they are occupying financial districts in New York, Dallas or Chicago, or protesting the execution of Troy Davis.

They are increasingly encountering the police, courts and prison system — collectively referred to as the state by Marxists.

The campaign against Davis’ execution was a direct protest of the most naked exercise of the state and its unrelenting oppression of African Americans, Latinos/as and immigrant workers. The state of Georgia asserted its right to kill Davis anyway, in the face of recanted testimony by seven witnesses, a lack of physical and forensic evidence and a worldwide movement.

Rallies, marches and vigils for Troy Davis were part of the Occupy Wall Street protest of corporate rule. This crucial show of solidarity with the fight against racist repression is necessary, as the crisis of unemployment gets worse.

As the economy contracts and capitalist production stalls, the ruling class is less and less willing to give any concessions whatsoever. From Wisconsin to New York to Greece, the message of the bankers is: Accept the cutbacks, layoffs and foreclosures — or feel the wrath of the cops and the courts that protect us billionaires.

The execution of Troy Davis may make it seem like it is impossible to challenge the state. What can change that is improving the balance of forces in the struggle. Already the U.S. street occupation movement, which began in New York, is spreading to other cities.

If this developing movement continues to exercise solidarity in the fight against racism, other forms of oppression and the fight for jobs — then the movement has a fighting chance.

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