11 January 2013

San Francisco Cop Vendetta Against Protesters

Defend the ACAC 19! Drop All Charges Now!

OAKLAND—One of the defense cases highlighted at last month’s benefit for the annual Partisan Defense Committee Holiday Appeal for class-war prisoners was that of the ACAC 19. These 19 protesters were arrested on October 6 when San Francisco cops brutally attacked a march of nearly 200, part of a series of “Anti-Colonial, Anti-Capitalist” (ACAC) events. The march was called to protest the racist treatment of native peoples, the military’s Fleet Week and the war in Afghanistan. Videos show dozens of cops suddenly charging the march before it got more than a few blocks, beating demonstrators to the pavement and inflicting injuries that included a broken nose, deep facial cuts requiring stitches and multiple bruises. Initially hit with felony charges, the ACAC 19 now face vindictive prosecution for a range of trumped-up misdemeanor charges. Drop all the charges now!

One of the organizers of the October 6 demonstration singled out for special attention by the cops is Robbie Donohoe, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 6 in San Francisco. Speaking at the Oakland Holiday Appeal, brother Donohoe graphically described the police assault:

“I turned and looked and I saw a baton hit my wife across the back, and I saw her back arch. And I was compelled—instead of trying to get to safety, I ran over and sort of flanked her with my body, and on the way there faced a line of batons coming down on me. And they eventually knocked us both over and continued to beat us both with batons as I lay on top of her. They kicked me off of her. Three officers were on my back. One of them pulled my head to the side so that I could see her lying next to me as another officer was punching her in the back of the head.”

On November 13, the SF district attorney subpoenaed Twitter account information of two protesters, ominously claiming “a conspiracy or agreement to stage a riot.” In a December 22 protest letter to the D.A., the PDC declared: “Occurring in the context of a nationwide increase in government surveillance and repression of leftist and labor activists, the District Attorney’s demand that Twitter turn over protesters’ account records is a direct threat to the right to political dissent, including the elementary rights of free speech and assembly.” Stop SFPD surveillance and harassment of the ACAC 19!

The Obama administration has systematically escalated the attacks on democratic rights unleashed by his Republican predecessor under the so-called “war on terror.” As the Spartacist League and PDC have always warned, although its initial targets were Arabs and Muslims, the “war on terror” has put in place an arsenal of repressive measures that would also be used against leftists, trade unionists and working people. Such attacks have become increasingly frequent and widespread.

In the Midwest, 23 leftists and trade unionists subpoenaed by a witchhunting federal grand jury in Chicago following 2010 FBI raids on their homes are still under investigation for supposed “material support to terrorism.” The “NATO 5,” arrested last year on trumped-up “terror plot” charges around the protests against NATO war criminals in Chicago, remain in jail and face up to 40 years if convicted. Four Occupy Cleveland supporters were sentenced in November to prison terms ranging from six to eleven and a half years for a “plot” concocted by an FBI informant. Three Portland activists are locked away in prison, possibly until 2014, for courageously refusing to testify before a federal grand jury in Seattle investigating a May Day demonstration last year.

Documents obtained last month by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund reveal that the FBI, in coordination with the New York Stock Exchange, began tracking activists involved with planning Occupy Wall Street a month before the occupation of Zuccotti Park in Manhattan. In cities across the country, the Feds along with local and state police monitored the Occupy movement as a potential terrorist threat.

Immediately after the arrests of the ACAC 19, the police and capitalist media launched a smear campaign, painting the demonstrators as “members of a criminal street gang, Black Blok.” An SFPD spokesman circulated the baseless claim that the ACAC demonstrators were the same “anarchist group” that had “vandalized” the Mission District police station in a protest against the shooting of a young Latino man by plainclothes gang squad cops weeks earlier. Gang squad cops were among those who attacked the ACAC march, and arrestees were stripped and inspected for “gang tattoos.” This gang squad is the same unit that uses the “gang affiliation” label as carte blanche to terrorize black and Latino youth in San Francisco, including gunning them down in the streets.

Clearly intending to provoke further retaliation against the ACAC 19, the police released pictures and names of the arrestees. Indeed, scurrilous flyers with mug shots of Donohoe and his wife together with their address were dumped from cars and postered around their neighborhood, denouncing them as “extremely dangerous people,” “members of the criminal street gang: Occupy Oakland” and “sworn anarchist revolutionaries.”

At the Holiday Appeal, UC Davis professor Joshua Clover—one of those facing prosecution for a March 29 campus sit-in (see “Defend the UC Davis ‘Banker’s Dozen’!” WV No. 1007, 31 August 2012)—spoke of a growing “black scare.” The bosses’ media and politicians have repeatedly howled about supposed Black Bloc anarchists to set the stage for cop repression against leftist protesters.

Behind the attacks on the ACAC protests and Occupy around the country is the understanding by the capitalist ruling class that the smoldering discontent at the base of this racist, class-divided society sows the seeds for sharp class and other social struggles. The ultimate target of political repression aimed at criminalizing dissent is the multiracial proletariat, which, as the collective producers of wealth, represents the one force capable of successfully challenging the capitalist order. For struggle against capitalist rule to be successful, that social power must be mobilized under the leadership of a revolutionary party.

That Marxist perspective is rejected by “direct action” activists, who have sought to distinguish themselves from other forces in and around the Occupy movement by burning American flags and otherwise expressing their rage against the atrocities of the U.S. imperialist rulers at home and abroad. Such actions offer only an ineffectual sideshow, bringing activists into isolated conflict with the bloody fist of the bosses’ state. This state apparatus, centrally the cops, courts, prisons and armed forces, is at bottom an instrument of force that defends the class rule of the bourgeoisie.

All wings of the Occupy movement share the populist conception of the “99 percent,” which obscures the class division of society and has been easily subsumed into the liberal wing of the capitalist Democratic Party. It will take a socialist revolution carried out by a class-conscious proletariat to put an end to the capitalist order and open the road to an egalitarian communist future.

*   *   *

The Support the ACAC 19 committee has called for letters, e-mails and phone calls demanding the immediate dropping of all charges to be directed to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant Street, Room 322, San Francisco, CA 94103; e-mail District Attorney@sfgov.org; phone (415) 553-1751. Donations can be made at the committee’s Web site: supporttheacac19.wordpress.com.

* * *

(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1015, 11 January 2013)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.