Trump incites violent police rampage against protesters

Duane Townsend

World Socialist Website - June 1, 2020

Across the United States, hundreds of thousands of working people and youth who have turned out in nearly 100 cities to protest the murder of George Floyd have themselves become the target of violent assaults by massively armed squads of police, backed by national guardsmen.

The nationwide violence unleashed against protesters is a continuation and escalation of the murderous assault that cost the life of George Floyd. The police are acting with impunity, fully aware that their violent attacks on protesters are supported by the Trump administration.

It is hardly a coincidence that Floyd’s murder occurred in Minneapolis, where President Donald Trump delivered a fascistic tirade last October at a rally attended by hundreds of cops. He denounced “far left” and “socialist” politicians, including the city’s mayor.

Since protests began last week, Trump has repeatedly called for attacks on protesters. On Sunday, he retweeted a post that called for the use of “overwhelming force against the bad guys,” which followed his previous statement that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Trump has demanded that state governments deploy the National Guard and has threatened to unleash the military to “take over.”

With no factual basis, the Trump administration is now declaring that “far-left” and anarchist groups are responsible for violence. Both Trump and Attorney General William Barr are threatening to declare Antifa—a politically insignificant anarchist group that is, in all likelihood, heavily infiltrated and manipulated by police agents—a “domestic terrorist organization.” This constitutionally illegal threat is aimed at criminalizing all working class, left-wing and socialist opposition to the Trump administration.

The rampage by the police over the last several days is among the most violent attacks on democratic rights in the history of the United States. As of Sunday, National Guard soldiers and airmen have been activated to aid in the suppression of protests in 26 states. States of emergency have been declared and curfews implemented in cities and counties across the country, most of which are controlled by Democrats, resulting in the suspension of the right to free speech and assembly.

In the course of the weekend, police beat protesters with truncheons and fired teargas to disperse crowds. A man was shot and killed in Louisville, Kentucky Sunday night, after police and National Guard troops opene fire on a crowd. Rubber bullets, pepper balls, beanbags, tasers and other “non-lethal” munitions were fired at demonstrators. They also sprayed mace and pepper spray directly into the faces of protesters and journalists. The Associated Press reported that more than 4,100 people have been arrested since Thursday.

One video shot by residents in Minneapolis Saturday night shows police marching behind a National Guard Humvee screaming for people to go inside and yelling “Light ‘em up,” as they fire rubber bullets on a group of young people gathered outside their home. Members of the New York Police Department rammed their vehicles into a crowd of protesters in Brooklyn. An elderly white man walking with a cane was shoved to the ground by riot police in Salt Lake City as they rolled down the street in armored vehicles dispersing protesters.

In Sacramento, California a young black man who was bleeding profusely after being shot in the eye was carried to safety by a fellow white protester. A young couple was tased and pulled from their car by dozens of riot police in Atlanta after they slashed their tires and broke out the windows.

A young woman in Dallas, Texas who was walking home from the store with groceries was shot in the head with a rubber bullet. Photos show blood streaming down her face. A young child in Seattle was pepper-sprayed in the face, video posted on social media shows her screaming in pain. Those around her douse her face with milk to ease the pain. Police in Las Vegas charged protesters, attacking them apparently at random, arresting dozens, including two photojournalists.

Journalists across the country were clearly targeted for assault and arrest by the police, in direct violation of the First Amendment’s protection of a free press. MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi was shot in the leg with a rubber bullet while reporting live in Minneapolis. In Louisville, a local TV reporter and her cameraman were targeted and shot with pepper balls during protests Friday. A freelance photojournalist in Minneapolis was permanently blinded in her left eye after being shot by the police with a rubber bullet.

Lucas Jackson, a Reuters photographer who had been shot by a police rubber bullet Saturday and has covered previous protests in Ferguson and Baltimore, told the news organization that it was clear that journalists are being targeted. “Usually if you get hit by this stuff it’s because you are between the police and the protesters—you’re taking the risk by being in the middle. During this they are actually aiming at us,” Jackson said.

It is highly probable that operatives within the White House have been directly involved in instigating attacks on the media, which Trump has repeatedly denounced as the “enemy of the people.”

Trump’s deliberate incitement of police violence has been a common theme throughout his administration. In the absence of a mass fascist movement, Trump views the police as a potential power base for a quasi-dictatorial regime. His actions confirm the warning made by the Political Committee of the Socialist Equality Party following his October 2019 speech in Minneapolis:

Trump’s appearances before police, security personnel and military audiences, as well as his carefully staged mass rallies designed to attract politically disoriented and backward elements, are all part of a calculated effort to create a political constituency upon which he can base an authoritarian regime, operating outside all of the traditional legal boundaries of the US Constitution.

The Democratic Party and the corporate media are responding to Trump’s lies and provocations with their typical combination of spinelessness and complicity. They have accepted, without a shred of evidence, Trump’s narrative that the protests are the work of “outside agitators,” a claim made repeatedly at a press conference held by the Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Saturday morning. ...
Read full report at World Socialist Website

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