Security in the U.S. Lies in the People's Defence of the Rights of All
Attempts to Impose Federal Control Over Conflicting Authorities
- Kathleen Chandler -

A main duty of the President of the United States is to preserve the union and the power of the rulers. A main difficulty he faces at this time is uniting the military bureaucracy and establishing presidential control over the many policing agencies -- federal, state and local. Without this, given the conflicts among and within the military, federal, state and local authorities, the union could splinter, or another violent civil war break out, something the ruling class as a whole is desperate to avoid. The current use of federal forces in major cities is part of this effort to impose greater presidential control. It is done in the name of law and order and democracy against "mob rule" and "mob violence."

Trump previously threatened to use the military in cities where protests persist, something opposed even by his own Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and numerous other military forces. Now he is attempting to use the paramilitary forces of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC), along with the Justice Department's FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to impose federal control. Local Portland police and those elsewhere have not asked for assistance and are not being consulted. As officials have also pointed out, local police have no authority to stop or give orders to federal forces. Trump has so far targeted Albuquerque, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Oakland for federal deployments.

The intervention by federal forces in Portland was opposed by Mayor Wheeler, as well as Governor Kate Brown and both Senators and Representatives from Oregon. Wheeler, along with the mayors of Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Kansas City, Missouri, sent a letter to DHS head Chad Wolf and U.S. Attorney General William Barr on July 20, opposing the use of federal forces. "We write to express our deep concern and objection to the deployment of federal forces in our cities, as those forces are conducting law enforcement activities without coordination or authorization of local law enforcement officials... Unilaterally deploying these paramilitary-type forces into our cities is wholly inconsistent with our system of democracy and our most basic values," the mayors wrote.

More mayors have since signed on, including those from Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, Tucson, Denver and Philadelphia. As well, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has said that federal forces who arrest protesters in Philadelphia will be arrested. "Anyone, including federal law enforcement, who unlawfully assaults and kidnaps people will face criminal charges from my office," Krasner said. Referencing the fight against fascism in WWII, Krasner emphasized that his office "will not make excuses for crimes committed by law enforcement that demean the democratic freedoms so many Americans have fought and died to preserve."

Philadelphia is one of the cities named by Trump for federal forces, along with Albuquerque, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Baltimore, New York City and Oakland.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley said, "Federal forces shot an unarmed protester in the face. These shadowy forces have been escalating, not preventing, violence." In the wake of that July 11 shooting, Senator Ron Wyden said, "Trump and Homeland Security must now answer why federal officers are acting like an occupying army." Like Mayor Wheeler, they have called for federal forces to leave Portland, as did Oregon Governor Kate Brown, saying they were "a blatant abuse of power by the federal government."

It is notable that these same people have not rejected the violence and use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters by local Portland police -- which was at such a level that a federal judge banned them. Their concern, like those of mayors and governors elsewhere, is not the rights of the people and their demands for equality and change, but rather who exercises the monopoly over the use of force. The President is acting to have the monopoly on the use of force dictated by the Office of the President, with or without the consent of local and state forces.

The "live exercise" being conducted also affords the possibility for direct relations between federal and local policing agencies, bypassing elected officials, as is done abroad between the Pentagon and foreign military forces. In Portland, dictate is used, rather than negotiations with local political and police authorities. In Chicago, a different approach has been taken -- that of negotiating with both the mayor and local police forces. This is no doubt in part because police officials specifically asked Trump to intervene. As well, Chicago is a far larger city with powerful police forces. The demonstrations are also far larger as is the population.

Resistance Shows Path Forward for People's Empowerment

DHS head Chad Wolf has made clear federal forces will step up their illegal actions and suppression of resistance. In attempts to justify more federal intervention he repeatedly brands demonstrations as a "violent mob," and participants as "violent criminals" and "lawless anarchists." On July 16 he said, "The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city. [...] A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice -- to attack it is to attack America."

In this manner Wolf is echoing Trump's efforts to usurp the right to declare who is and who is not "American." Trump's recent speeches, the executive order making defacing statues a felony, which further consolidated the use of federal forces in the cities, all speak to this effort to criminalize people who are defending rights and to justify broader and more violent federal actions.

Facing the upsurge in resistance in Portland, Trump said July 20, "We're going to have more federal law enforcement -- that, I can tell you. In Portland, they've done a fantastic job... They grab them; a lot of people in jail. They're leaders. These are anarchists. These are not protesters. People say 'protesters'; these people are anarchists. These are people that hate our country."

On July 21 in a Fox News interview Wolf said, "Because we don't have that local support, that local law enforcement support, we are having to go out and proactively arrest individuals." Based on existing experience, this means that with no probable cause and acting against people who have committed no crime whatsoever, detentions and arrests will be made of anyone who is said to be "attacking America." As well, federal forces are detaining, searching and interrogating people, then releasing them with no record of the detention, making any accountability even more difficult as the federal officials claim the detention never happened.

Trump, Wolf and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan are all attempting to criminalize resistance while also imposing their sole authority over how and when to use force. Millions of demonstrators are clearly not part of "their America." Those standing with the demonstrators and supporting their demands -- the large majority of people -- are not either. All are to be subject to violence and preemptive attacks.

The claims by the various local and state politicians that Trump's actions are unconstitutional or "inconsistent with our system of democracy," muddy the waters because the Constitution they refer to is no longer capable of exercising authority in the country. As a consequence of the neo-liberal anti-social offensive's inherent restructuring of the state whose functions have been usurped by narrow private interests, the decision-making power has largely been concentrated in the Office of the President. Congress is dysfunctional and the courts largely reinforce the power of the executive even though some rulings attempt to uphold the division of powers between federal and state forces in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Constitution is not stopping the police powers of the President, nor presidential use of federal forces against the people.

Indeed, the notion that the Constitution can be relied on does not temper the sharpening conflicts between federal, state and local authorities, as exemplified in Portland. As the presidential election draws nearer, the conditions for open civil war among the ruling factions vying for power are ever-present. Trump is trying to get an upper hand by establishing DHS and Justice Department forces loyal to himself should the military split or other policing agencies refuse his orders.

The valiant resistance in Portland and other cities and towns is providing a way forward by rejecting the violence of all the policing agencies, the all-round militarization of life and sticking to the principle that change must favour the people. Those currently governing at all levels are seen as unfit to govern. Ample evidence of this is how they are handling not only the police killings and government racism but also the COVID-19 pandemic. With their organized resistance the people's forces are empowering themselves as the Wall of Moms shows. They are not being drawn into efforts to get them to side for or against the various representatives of the rich. They are persisting in accomplishing their aims to achieve justice, equality, security and peace.

What Trump Seeks to Accomplish by Sending Federal Police Forces to Chicago Already Armed to the Teeth
- Voice of Revolution -

President Trump announced July 22 that he will send hundreds of federal forces from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice Department to Chicago. They are being sent in the name of helping with violent crime, particularly homicides and shootings. But if Portland is any guide, they will likely also be used against ongoing demonstrations demanding an end to racist police brutality and inequality and claiming that the rights of all be upheld. The African-American community in Chicago is large and politically active as are the large Mexican-American, Puerto Rican and immigrant communities. All are front and centre along with Black Lives Matter in the current protests.

It comes as no surprise that Black Lives Matter organizers and others are being defamed as drug traffickers and targeted by Trump's federal forces in the name of fighting drugs. In this way, the pretext differs from the one used in Portland, Oregon, but the aim of presidential executive power controlling police powers at all levels -- federal, state and local -- and suppressing the resistance in the name of law and order remains the same.

The federal forces include the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) -- all notorious for framing people, including organizers of the people's movement for empowerment, on drug and murder charges while themselves supplying guns and drugs to the cartels. DEA and FBI have long worked with the Chicago Police Department (CPD), including at a detention centre known as Homan Square. Here thousands of people, mostly African Americans and Latinx and protesters such as those against NATO, have been illegally interrogated and tortured using beatings, sleep deprivation, withholding of food and water for long periods, threats of false charges and more while being refused contact with lawyers. Homan Square has been targeted by the protests so many anticipate federal forces will be used to protect it.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and an elite squad from Customs and Border Protection, BORTAC, are already present in Chicago and may be augmented. BORTAC was sent to Chicago in February as part of Trump's efforts to retaliate against sanctuary cities that instructed local police not to cooperate with ICE in detaining immigrants.

Chicago police also have a long history of framing organizers as well as outright assassination, such as of Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party. The movement in Chicago is now bracing for police actions of this type by federal and local police, along with felony riot and similar charges. Also to be expected is that DHS will send additional forces from these agencies as well as the newly formed "Protecting American Communities Task Force," with responsibility to protect federal buildings and property and prevent "civil unrest."

In announcing the deployment, Trump blamed protesters for the violent crime they are supposedly being sent to address: "In recent weeks, there has been a radical movement to defund, dismantle, and dissolve our police departments. Extreme politicians have joined this anti-police crusade and relentlessly vilified our law enforcement heroes. To look at it from any standpoint, the effort to shut down policing in their own communities has led to a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders, and heinous crimes of violence."

In this manner Trump is providing the basis to further criminalize and target the demonstrators as being responsible for crime while also trying to gain the support of the local police forces.

By-Passing Elected Officials
One of the aims Trump seeks to achieve in Chicago is to increase federal control over the monopoly to use force while not directly confronting the powerful Chicago Police Department (CPD). This is why negotiations are taking place and promises are being made to address crime, not protesters. The forces are supposed to be uniformed with the usual FBI, ICE, DEA jackets, etc -- but all these forces go under cover for drug operations, for example, and could readily deploy undercover agents into the communities. The FBI has long infiltrated movement organizations and likely will step up such efforts. As well, once deployed, it remains unclear if the "coordination" promised will materialize.

It is also possible that while local politicians may object to actions by the federal forces, the police may not. Direct relations are being established between federal and local policing agencies, bypassing elected officials, as already exists with Homan Square. This enforces federal control over the monopoly of the use of force which is a main goal of the presidential executive power at this time.

"If federal agents are deployed, it is critical that they coordinate with the Chicago Police Department and work alongside us to fight violent crime in Chicago," Chicago police spokesperson Kellie Bartoli said. No mention was made of coordinating with local elected officials.

The head of the police union wrote to Trump directly asking for federal forces. Echoing Trump's attacks on city mayors, he said: "I am certain you are aware of the chaos currently affecting our city on a regular basis now. I am writing to formally ask you for help from the federal government. Mayor Lightfoot has proved to be a complete failure who is either unwilling or unable to maintain law and order here."

Elected officials have nonetheless already expressed doubt about the role of the federal forces. While both Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Governor J.B. Pritzker have agreed to the deployment, they initially rejected it and continue to raise concerns.

"Our democracy is at stake, and I'll be darned if I'm going to let anybody -- even if their name is Mr. President -- bring those kind of troops to our city and try to take on our residents," Mayor Lightfoot said at first. "That's not going to happen in Chicago. And I'm going to use every tool at my disposal to stop them," she said.

Lightfoot also signed the July 20 letter from mayors of many cities in the U.S. rejecting use of federal forces in their cities. However, the very same day, in a letter to Trump, she agreed to the deployment on the grounds of fighting crime and drugs. "What we do not need and what will certainly make our community less safe is secret, federal agents deployed to Chicago. Any other form of militarized assistance within our borders that would not be within our control or within the direct command of the Chicago Police Department would spell disaster."

Current experience is that the federal forces, not the Chicago Police Department, will take control, pitting two highly armed forces against each other and against the people.

Governor Pritzker also initially opposed federal forces saying, "We're going to do everything we can to prevent them from coming. And if they do come, we're going to do everything we can from a legal perspective to get them out." Then, after speaking with the FBI, he said, "I welcome legitimate resources from the federal government to reduce violence and help our residents stay safe." Referring to the well-known "grab and snatch" tactics of DHS, he added: "But it's this other thing that's going on where people are wearing camouflage uniforms, with no identification about who they are, claiming to be protecting federal buildings, when in fact they're going blocks and blocks away from federal buildings to do things like throw people into vans and arrest them without telling them why they're being arrested, and then keeping them for hours before letting them go. That is not something that is acceptable in the state of Illinois."

Reports claim that both the mayor and governor agreed to federal forces in part because U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, John Lausch, is "in the loop" on the deployment and "helping to manage the additional forces." Lausch is part of the federal forces and working to secure their control, emphasizing that they will work "collaboratively." African-American, Puerto Rican, Mexican-American and Asian communities and Indigenous peoples all know well that such "collaboration" actually means brutal dictate, betrayal and use of force; the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries know well too what such "collaboration" entails.

The deployment of federal forces in Chicago, like Portland and the other larger cities Trump plans to target, are mainly a means to assert federal control over policing forces and suppress resistance -- a test of whether the president can succeed in preserving the union which is wracked by contending narrow private interests and divisions. Since 9/11 all the new federal agencies, including DHS, have been created with this in mind -- to achieve the domination of the narrow private interests over the United States and over the entire world. The clash of different levels of authority has given rise to determined resistance and opposition at the state and local levels and among and within the policing agencies and military bureaucracy themselves. Many are operating in the name of the U.S. Constitution and division of powers despite the fact that the very developments show that it can no longer contain and manage the differences within the ranks of the rulers and between the rulers and the people.

Which forces will be loyal to the office of the president, which will not? Will Trump manage to keep the presidency under the guise that law and order will resolve the crisis in the U.S. or will the ruling class decide that they can better achieve their aim by finding a better champion who can prove himself or herself to be stalwart by uniting the civil, industrial and military bureaucracies? Will the elections unfold without violence at home, and without launching a war abroad? These are the concerns on people's minds which only the people's movement for empowerment can deal with in a manner that favours the people and averts the dangers which lie inherent in the situation.

The workers' and people's movement in the U.S. is very experienced. It knows that whether federal forces are secret or uniformed is not the issue in the deployment of federal forces into their cities and communities. They know that state and local police forces are militarized and their deployment to suppress their protests is neither better nor preferable. The fight within the ruling circles to control the monopoly of the use of force is a matter of where the decision-making power lies by establishing whether the presidential office can control local and state authorities or whether local and state authorities defy this in favour of those contending narrow private interests opposed to Trump.

In the name of averting civil war and preserving the union, a civil war is in fact taking place on many fronts in myriad ways. Despite the contention between state and federal authorities, they both target the people's resistance movement and seek to suppress it. Far from taking one side or the other or both in the civil war between the rulers, the people are taking their own side.

The developments in the United States reveal one thing above all else: the need for a people-centred modern democracy which opposes the use of force to sort out the problems by activating the human factor/social consciousness and uniting the people tirelessly, courageously, heroically -- as the movement is doing, as the people in the communities are doing -- speaking out in their own name, in favour of their interests and the rights of all.

The growing resistance has made clear that the people do not accept suppression by either local or federal police forces and that they do not accept the brutal attacks repeatedly unleashed by both. Safety and security rests with defending rights, with fighting for the human rights to housing, health care, jobs and a modern democracy of the people's own making. This is the movement that empowers the people and defeats the stranglehold of the oppressors and their rule and brutality, killings, institutions and impunity.

Trump should "fund mental health services and support outreach programs. He should fund public education so that schools can safely reopen. We know what works and the very last thing we need are federal agents harassing people and violating their rights," one Chicago organization said.

"Escalating the level of surveillance and militarization of our communities does not make us safer, whether it is by federal agents or the Chicago Police Department," another said, and added "Defunding the police and investing in education, jobs, housing, and mental health care is what is needed to make us safe."

Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All. This is the principle guiding the actions of the people across the country.

(Voice of Revolution is a publication of the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization.)

29 Jul 2020 - 07:46 by WDNF International | comments (0)