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The self-defense of the collective – Consequences of serial murder – Thoughts on the so-called riots happening all over the US

For the past few weeks in the USA (and other places, but I lack the perspective to properly write about those), we’ve heard a lot of talk of “riots.” Headlines have tended toward the oh-so popular phrase “Looting, Violence.” The so-called left wing of this country — the Democratic Party — has been actively fighting against the uprisings labeled as riots almost as much as the Republican Party. They, the “peace-loving” liberals, have been advocating, as expected, for peaceful resistance and to not engage in the “radical violence” and “looting.” This kind of attitude seems ingrained in the majority of white American liberals’ mindsets, and it’s understandable why; these people (and, admittedly, I too) have been raised in a culture which grants them far more civil, political, legal, judiciary, and economic liberties than other groups, especially poor Black people. However, these positions, when critically examined, make very little sense.

Originally published by Blewriter. Written by Byron López Ellington.

Gun culture is very deeply ingrained in America. Though terrible, there is at least one thing I can agree with gun culture on: if someone shoots you and you shoot them back, the latter is an act of self-defense.

If the state, in all its forms and for over four hundred years, continuously subjugates your people –– if the state, for over four hundred years, endlessly enslaves your peoples, destroys your cultures, erases your languages, homogenizes countless distinct and independent groups into a single, subjugated class — and you rise up to resist such evils, is that not also self-defense? (Note that this is not truly an apt comparison: the lower classes are not doing anything nearly as bad to the upper class as the upper class has done to them, and that only makes their cause more incredibly just.)

Serial killers are hunted down by the state, and when tried and found guilty, are at worst executed and at best sentenced to life in prison. They are generally not allowed to seek rehabilitation, even though it could work the vast majority of the time.

Black people and progressives of all creeds and colors, on the other hand, have tried to rehabilitate the State, that cold-blooded killer, time and time again. It has not worked. Yet still the popular movement does not flinch, and is not pressured into delivering the “punishment fit for the crime” that a serial killer would receive. No, the people are far too kind for that. The movement knows the terrible problems, has always known them, and though it is not at all unified on what the solution might be, it certainly knows what the immediate steps are to go toward an actually desirable future. Right now, we are seeing many things happen that were predicted by Kropotkin in 1892. He stressed in The Conquest of Bread that so many communistic experiments had failed because their leaders were too concerned with the specifics of ideology, too caught up in their own internal squabbles (Marxists, anarchists, Jacobins, democratic socialists, oh my!) to tend to the most immediate needs: the material needs of the people. The Paris Commune (which we see being somewhat replicated in Seattle as I write) failed because of, according to Kropotkin, those internal squabbles and because the leaders were too hasty in their taking up of now-vacant government seats, their wearing of embroidered red sashes, their desire to impress upon their fellow scholars rather than the true revolutionaries — the common people.

Kropotkin said that the immediate needs of the people — food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. — had to be taken care of (expropriated, then distributed according to need) first and foremost if a revolution were to succeed. We see this happening now: expropriated goods, such as those from the burned Target, are being set up in free stores where anyone can take according to need. This is a gift economy. This is anarchism.

The expropriation of capitalist enterprises, and the burning of police stations, are seen by the media as violence, looting, and chaos. But they should be — and, by many, are — seen as self-defense, redistribution, and anarchy.

It is not the protestors, the rebels, the uprisers, who are the rioters; no, it is the police, those who release tear gas, bullets, knives, and machetes, who relish in the suffering of others — it is they who are the rioters.

By this logic we see very clearly now that the so-called “violent” protests are, in fact, the self-defense of the collective, and that this is merely the inevitable consequence of state-sponsored serial murder. In the immortal words of Tamika Mallory

“This is a coordinated activity happening across this nation. So we are in a state of emergency. Black people are dying, in a state of emergency. We cannot look at this as an isolated incident. The reason why buildings are burning are not just for our brother George Floyd; they’re burning down because people here in Minnesota are saying to people in New York, to people in California, to people in Memphis, to people all across this nation, ‘Enough is enough!’ And we are not responsible for the mental illness that has been inflicted upon our people by the American government, institutions, and those people who are in positions of power. I don’t give a damn if they burn down Target! Because Target should be on the streets with us, calling for the justice that our people deserve! Where was AutoZone at the time when Philando Castile was shot in a car, which is what they actually represent! Where were they? So if you are not coming to the people’s defense, then don’t challenge us when young people, and other people who are frustrated and instigated by the people you pay — you are paying instigators to be among our people out there, throwing rocks, breaking windows, and burning down buildings — and so young people are responding to that, they are enraged, and there’s an easy way to stop it: arrest the cops, charge the cops, charge all the cops, not just some of them, not just here in Minneapolis, charge them in every city across America where out people are being murdered! Charge them everywhere! That’s the bottom line. Charge the cops. Do your job. Do what you say this country is supposed to be about –– the land of the free for all. It has not been free for Black people, and we are tired. Don’t talk to us about looting. Y’all are the looters. America has looted Black people! America looted the Native Americans when they first came here! So looting is what you do; we learned it from you! We learned violence from you! We learned violence from you; the violence was what we learned from you. So if you want us to do better, then damn it, you do better!”

I will now end this essay off with a list of just a drop in the bucket of those innocent Black people who have been murdered for the sole crime of being Black.Matthew Ajibade was murdered.
Tanisha Anderson was murdered.
Ahmaud Arbery was murdered.
Anthony Ashford was murdered.
Aaron Bailey was murdered.
De’Von Bailey was murdered.
La’Vante Biggs was murdered.
Sandra Bland was murdered.
Freddie Blue was murdered.
Rumain Brisbon was murdered.
Michael Brown was murdered.
Patterson Brown, Jr. was murdered.
Philando Castile was murdered.
Wendell Celestine was murdered.
William Chapman II was murdered.
Keith Childress, Jr. was murdered.
Alexia Christian was murdered.
Jamar Clark was murdered.
Stephon Clark was murdered.
Dominique Clayton was murdered.
John Crawford III was murdered.
Tyree Crawford was murdered.
Terence Crutcher was murdered.
Michelle Cusseaux was murdered.
Albert Joseph Davis was murdered.
Billy Ray Davis was murdered.
Christopher Davis was murdered.
Brian Keith Day was murdered.
Michael Lorenzo Dean was murdered.
Samuel Dubose was murdered.
Jordan Edwards was murdered.
Salvado Ellswood was murdered.
Miguel Espinal was murdered.
George Floyd was murdered.
Ronell Foster was murdered.
Ezell Ford was murdered.
Peter Gaines was murdered.
Eric Garner was murdered.
Brendon Glenn was murdered.
Akai Gurley was murdered.
Mya Hall was murdered.
Eric Harris was murdered.
Kevin Hicks was murdered.
Anthony Hill was murdered.
Dominic Hutchinson was murdered.
Botham Jean was murdered.
Atatiana Jefferson was murdered.
Bettie Jones was murdered.
Lamontez Jones was murdered.
David Joseph was murdered.
India Kager was murdered.
Felix Kumi was murdered.
Victor Manuel Larosa was murdered.
Quintonio LeGrier was murdered.
Marco Loud was murdered.
Asshams Pharoah Manley was murdered.
George Mann was murdered.
Joseph Mann was murdered.
Michael Lee Marshall was murdered.
Trayvon Martin was murdered.
Kevin Matthews was murdered.
Christopher McCorvy was murdered.
Laquan McDonald was murdered.
Natasha McKenna was murdered.
Keith Harrison McLeod was murdered.
Randy Nelson was murdered.
Michael Noel was murdered.
Paul O’Neil was murdered.
Dante Parker was murdered.
Dyzhawn Perkins was murdered.
Richard Perkins was murdered.
Nathaniel Harris Pickett was murdered.
Junior Prosper was murdered.
Eric Reason was murdered.
Jerame Reid was murdered.
Tamir Rice was murdered.
Darius Robinson was murdered.
Tony Robinson was murdered.
Torrey Robinson was murdered.
Troy Robinson was murdered.
Calin Roquemore was murdered.
Antwon Rose II was murdered.
Michael Sabbie was murdered.
Jonathan Sanders was murdered.
Demarcus Semer was murdered.
Antronie Scott was murdered.
Walter Scott was murdered.
Frank Smart was murdered.
Alonzo Smith was murdered.
Sylville Smith was murdered.
Alton Sterling was murdered.
Darrius Stewart was murdered.
Breonna Taylor was murdered.
Christian Taylor was murdered.
Terrill Thomas was murdered.
Bennie Lee Tignor was murdered.
Willow Tillman ws murdered.
Mary Truxillo was murdered.
Pamela Turner was murdered.
Philip White was murdered.
Christopher Whitfield was murdered.
Janet Wilson was murdered.
Alteria Woods was murdered.

If that doesn’t constitute serial murder, I don’t know what does.

Black lives matter.

Donate to good causes. Educate yourself ceaselessly. Read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Support the movement. Don’t overstress to the point of being unable to keep going with all your favorite things; “to each according to their need, from each according to their ability.”

And finally, a quote.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”

Martin Luther King, Jr


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