For anyone trying to keep up with the movement against racist police murders in the US, a few suggestions:
Peter Gelderloos has run a great three-part series in Counterpunch, covering the nature of the police and the role of the left, lessons from the history of the Civil Rights movement, and thoughts on moving towards a world without police. The Ferguson and Beyond collection of discussion pieces compiled by Unity & Struggle, also available as a printable zine, is still the most impressive piece of sustained discussion I’ve seen about the movement – I think the most interesting theory usually comes out of practice, and that definitely seems to be the case here. Meanwhile, Fireworks have a review of resistance in the Bay Area in 2014, covering the movement against police killings along with many others, and some young service workers have written a piece on the theme of the sanctity of small businesses, a theme that often comes up in discussions of riots. Counterpunch have also run a poor person’s defence of riots, and You, Me and a Thousand Strangers is an interesting piece on mass direct action in Oakland after Ferguson from Hyphenated Republic. Cindy Milstein’s blog also continues to run thoughtful articles like Are Our Communities Strong Enough for Police to Be Obsolete?
On a more straight reporting note, Trianarchy have a timeline of anti-police actions in the Triangle area of North Carolina, and Anti-State St Louis have a report from Berkeley, MO., after the police killing of Antonio Martin.
Of course, at this particular point in time, #blacklivesmatter is very much last year’s news. Media attention has moved on, and other events have become a focal point of discussion. I’ve consciously decided to avoid writing a full article about the stuff that everyone else is writing about this week, because I think if you want to say anything more thoughtful than “murdering cartoonists – and people who aren’t cartoonists – is wrong”, then you have to deal with some quite complex issues, and I think the rush to churn something out quickly isn’t helpful when trying to give complicated questions the thoughtful attention they deserve. Kneejerk reactions are rarely helpful: that goes for the straightforward reactions like declaring “je suis Charlie”, but it also goes for a lot of the counter-reactions: if you’ve never heard of Charlie Hebdo before this week, and have never actually read a single copy of the magazine in your life, rushing in to criticise them on the basis of having spent half an hour reading articles about their most controversial moments is not much more helpful or insightful than declaring that you are them. Similarly, the adoption of “je suis Ahmed” by people who aren’t comfortable with declaring solidarity with the magazine itself seems deeply questionable – if you don’t want to say that you’re a magazine that ran some content you disagree with, but you’re fine with saying that you’re a copper, literally equating your identity with that of a policeman… well, that’s your choice, but going around saying you’re a policeman seems like an odd reaction to me. Working out an adequate response to the tragic events that have happened in France this week is the sort of task that calls for thoughtful reflection, and I don’t think it’s helpful to try and rush that process.