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Escalating Violent Militarism for Oppression-Ferguson & Gaza

This is the definition of a war of terror. It requires the aggressor to engage in constant and ever escalating displays of disciplined force – which is what militaries do. Glen Ford

“The Israeli onslaught in Gaza is a forewarning of the measures that will be used in every country against working class resistance to war, militarism and the agenda of austerity. The methods developed in the course of a decade of the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to terrorise hostile populations will also be used against workers fighting to defend their jobs, living standards and basic democratic rights.” “The slaughter in Gaza: A warning to the international working class,” the WSWS

.... A political analysis of the events in Ferguson must begin not with the empty and insincere rhetoric of Obama and other politicians, but with what they are doing. In the interests of the financial oligarchy they serve, they are mobilizing the repressive violence of the state to terrorize the working class in Ferguson and set a precedent to be used in cities all across the country. Barry Grey



German journalists arrested in Ferguson By Wolfgang Weber

On Monday, two German journalists were arrested in Ferguson, Missouri, by the police and taken to prison while trying to research and report for their newspapers on the shooting of Michael Brown and the sustained anti-police protests which have followed.


A photographer for Getty Images was also taken away in handcuffs during a demonstration on Monday, and last week, two reporters from the Washington Post and Huffington Post were arrested and held for several hours.


Each time, to the extent that they have bothered to comment on the arrests at all, the police have justified their actions with the claim that those arrested had not followed orders “to disperse.” The journalists involved have rejected this assertion as false, and stated that the police simply wanted to prevent them from doing their job.


[report of residents to reporter] “they had protested peacefully, and then at 20:30, long before the midnight curfew, the police deployed tear gas and smoke bombs without warning to disperse the crowd. But as the streets were already sealed off, the people could not leave. This increased the anger.”


The reports from Graw and Hermann both stated that the two journalists subsequently took small steps forward so that they could take photos, when the county officer suddenly gave the order to handcuff them with plastic handcuffs. When the reporters asked for his name, his response was “Donald Duck.” ...


During this time, they were searched on three occasions. They had to give up all notes, mobile telephones, wallets, belts and shoelaces. When Frank Hermann refused to take his wedding ring off his finger, he was threatened with solitary confinement.


De facto martial law in Ferguson, Missouri by Barry Grey

The arbitrary and disproportionate use of force has characterized the entire crisis. Brown, who was not carrying a weapon, was shot six times at point-blank range. Peaceful protests by outraged residents were met with a military-style crackdown, mass arrests, the declaration of a state of emergency, and the imposition of what amounts to martial law.


Residents have been stripped of the constitutionally guaranteed right to assemble, reporters have been arrested or banished in violation of freedom of the press, police checkpoints have been set up at major intersections.

A massive force of military vehicles, helicopters, sound cannon, flash grenades, tear gas, SWAT teams wielding assault weapons and local cops backed by National Guard troops has been deployed to intimidate, terrorize and crush social protest.


On Monday night, the crackdown on overwhelmingly peaceful protesters demanding justice in the killing of Brown was stepped up. Seventy-eight people were arrested ostensibly for failing to obey a police order, for which there is no legal or constitutional basis, to disperse.

The scale of the repression is vastly disproportionate to the supposed threat from what the authorities are calling “criminal elements.” At a 2:20 am Tuesday press conference, Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who was put in charge of security operations last week by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, could point only to two hand guns, one Molotov cocktail and some water bottles allegedly captured by the police to justify that night’s violent crackdown and mass arrests. ...


The resort to police state methods in Ferguson is the outcome of the protracted decay of American democracy. This process entered a new stage with the theft of the 2000 presidential election. It was accelerated after 9/11 and the declaration of the so-called “war on terror.” From the start, that phony war was used to justify an eruption of imperialist war abroad and an unrelenting assault on democratic rights within the US.

The past 13 years have seen a massive buildup of the repressive powers of the state at the expense of democratic rights, resulting today in the existence of a police state in waiting. The USA Patriot Act, which sanctioned the unbridled expansion of government spying on the people of America and the world, was followed by the establishment of the Homeland Security Department, which has coordinated and funded, along with the Pentagon, the transformation of local police into paramilitary counterinsurgency forces. The Northern Command, the first ever military command covering the territory of the United States, was set up.


The assault on democratic rights under George W. Bush has been accelerated under Barack Obama. The current president has not only shielded the authors of torture programs and the Guantanamo gulag from prosecution, he has asserted his right to indefinitely detain and even assassinate US citizens without due process, and admitted to having done so.

The driving force behind these advanced preparations for a police state is the immense growth of social inequality. A quasi-criminal corporate-financial elite, which enriches itself on the basis of speculative activities of a parasitical nature while destroying the industrial infrastructure and decent-paying jobs, arrogates to itself an ever greater share of the national wealth. This form of criminality is inextricably linked to a criminal foreign policy based on aggression, war and plunder.


Israel resumes assault on Gaza By Bill Van Auken

Netanyahu and Ya’alon came under political fire last week over the Cairo talks from the extreme right-wing Zionist elements in the Israeli cabinet who have voiced support for continuing the Gaza war. ...


Updated figures released by the Gaza Health Ministry revealed that the Palestinian death toll has climbed to over 2,020, including 543 children and 252 women. Israeli fatalities number 67, out of which 64 were soldiers invading the Palestinian territory.


Meanwhile, UNRWA, the United Nations agency in charge of relief for Palestinian refugees, reported that thousands of people were once again fleeing their homes to seek shelter from the renewed air raids in already overcrowded UN schools. At least 425,000 Gazans have been displaced by Israel’s wholesale destruction of residential neighborhoods.


The resumption of the bombing campaign came as talks in Cairo on a long-term cessation of hostilities ground to a halt in the face of Israeli intransigence. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused any concessions on core Palestinian demands for the lifting of the seven-year-old blockade that has turned Gaza into the world’s largest open-air prison, starved of essential resources and cut off from the outside world.

Israeli spokesmen said that the Israeli airstrikes came in response to the firing of a handful of rockets form Gaza that injured no one and caused no property damage. The Al Jazeera news network said it had confirmed that rockets had been fired from the Shujaiya district, a densely populated neighborhood that was reduced to rubble and was the scene of some of the most intense carnage during the Israeli invasion.


Officials of Hamas, the Islamist movement which leads the Gaza government, however, said that they know nothing about any rocket attacks and suggested that the Israeli government had fabricated the incident in a bid to scuttle the talks and resume its attacks. None of the Palestinian factions in Gaza claimed responsibility for launching any rockets Tuesday.


The Israeli bargaining position reportedly included only an easing of the blockade of Gaza’s borders, which Israel would remain in a position to fully seal off again whenever it saw fit. Tel Aviv refused to discuss Palestinian demands for the opening of a seaport and the restoration of the Gaza airport, which the IDF destroyed during the second Intifada in 2001. As with the question of Palestinian political prisoners, the Israeli negotiators insisted that the discussion of these questions be put off to a later date.


Another police killing in St. Louis, Missouri as assault on protesters continues By Niles Williamson

St. Louis, Missouri police officers shot and killed a 23-year-old man Tuesday afternoon. The killing occurred only four miles east of Ferguson, where the police murder of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown has sparked popular protests and an orchestrated state crackdown that has placed parts of the city under effective martial law.

Police were called to the corner of Riverview Boulevard and McLaren Avenue after an African-American man allegedly took two energy drinks and some pastries from a corner store. Police Chief Sam Dotson claimed that the young man, who was acting erratically and talking to himself, approached two officers with a knife, and that two officers responded by firing multiple times.

A crowd of several hundred people gathered within an hour of the killing, chanting the slogan of the Ferguson protests, “Hand’s Up, Don’t Shoot.” Residents said that the man was mentally handicapped, and that he had just returned from his mother’s funeral. Witnesses said that as he approached the officers, he was yelling, “Shoot me, kill me now.”

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson dismissed questions as to why police did not use non-lethal force, saying simply, “Officers have a reasonable expectation to go home at the end of their shift.”

The latest killing comes as the police repression against protesters is intensifying in Ferguson. Parts of the city have been placed under police rule. Residents have been arrested for standing still on the side walk or not moving fast enough when crossing the street. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a “state of emergency” and called out the National Guard.


Amidst the intensifying crackdown, President Barack Obama is sending Attorney General Holder today to meet with FBI agents, police and members of the St. Louis political establishment. ...


Justifying an intensification of the crackdown on protests, Holder claimed that protests are being derailed by “individuals from outside Ferguson” who have been interrupting “legitimate demonstrators.”


Despite the sensational claims made by Holder and Johnson that “outside agitators” are responsible for unrest, an overwhelming majority of the nearly 80 people arrested Monday night and Tuesday morning were residents of Missouri. ...


Kyle Niere, a resident of Ferguson arrested for supposedly failing to disperse, told NBC News that a group of at least 20 heavily-armed cops pulled him and his friends from their truck as they tried to drive away from the protests early Tuesday morning. “They drug us all out. Face-first to the ground, stepping on the back of our heads. They’re being brutal for no reason. None of us were violent. We were just there.”


As Holder pledged to “defend the right…for the media to cover a story that must be told,” police in St. Louis, with the support of the Obama administration, have been systematically targeting and generally harassing journalists reporting on the protests.

Getty Images photographer Scott Olson was detained and placed in handcuffs Monday for crossing the street too slowly.

Monday night the Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux and De Bild’s Lukas Hermsmeier were both shot in the back with rubber bullets by police officers and then arrested for “refusal to disperse.”


These actions followed the arrest last week of the Washington Post’s Wesley Rowley and the Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly.

Police also deliberately fired tear gas at an Al-Jazeera America camera crew and then moved in to dismantle their equipment after they fled. In another incident a police officer in the neighboring city of Kinloch grabbed the wrist of Al-Jazeera America reporter Aaron Ernst and threatened to injure him, saying, “Don’t resist. I’ll bust your ass. I’ll bust your head right here.”


Ferguson Unmasks the War on Black America By Glen Ford

Ferguson’s righteous agitators and rebellious Black youth have succeeded in pinning down in one small space the armed forces of racist repression in full view of the corporate and the people’s media, so that the whole world can bear witness to the truth of what another generation proclaimed nearly half a century ago: that, in the Black community, the police are an army of occupation.


The term “mass Black incarceration” had not yet been coined, but it was only a matter of time before a permanent, militarized police offensive against rebellion-prone ghettos would cause unprecedented numbers of Black prisoners to flow into the greatest gulag in the history of the world.


Blacks didn’t know their place, back when the Black Panthers were gone after so many decades ago. The War on Drugs and the War on Crime policies took care of that.


Lethal force is being used to crush Black men especially, for any reason or no reason in urban, suburban, rural Black America.


This is the definition of a war of terror. It requires the aggressor to engage in constant and ever escalating displays of disciplined force – which is what militaries do. By refusing to disperse, the Black people of Ferguson have compelled the police to flaunt their military nature and mission before the eyes of the world. The American National Security State is embarrassed. But it will take a social transformation – that is, a revolution – to disarm the beast.

[cross-posted on open salon]

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