Thanks to Robert Bowers’ horrific massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill on Saturday, we now finally know what it takes to be charged with a hate crime in Trump’s America. Beating up a Black man in a bar while shouting racial epithets isn’t enough. Even murdering two Black people in a grocery store and telling a white bystander “Whites don’t shoot whites” won’t do the trick. But executing eleven white Jewish people in a synagogue while screaming “All Jews must die!” is apparently sufficiently blatant to spur the FBI to action, if only to protect what is left of their own legitimacy. Continue reading “Trump Unwelcomed to Pittsburgh”
The latest guidelines for unpermitted street protests issued by the Pittsburgh cops have generated a lot of outrage, but not much in the way of tactical or strategic analysis. We gave the document a quick glance to see what it might reveal about the cops’ plans and thoughts. In no particular order:
As everyone now knows, on June 19th East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld murdered Antwon Rose Jr. by shooting him in the back three times as he ran from a traffic stop. When a video of the shooting went viral on social media, Pittsburgh exploded in protest. Explosions are relative of course, and the riots, looting, and torched convenience stores that characterized analogous uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore have here translated to peaceful marches to block traffic. Nonetheless the current situation is a major departure from the usual activist routine that anarchists in Pittsburgh suffer through. We offer the following points for consideration.
Friday saw more protests over the police murder of Antwon Rose in East Pittsburgh. The evening’s action started conventionally enough, meeting at the Wood Street subway station downtown at 5:30, and stepping off around 6. At least 200 people took the streets, marching slowly through downtown and stopping frequently to block intersections while holding speakouts. A trailing caravan of cops accompanied the march, but they weren’t doing anything yet. More cops on motorcycles circled, blocking off intersections as marchers approached, and causing even further disruption to rush hour traffic.
A Torchlight operative managed to get a picture of an undercover cop filming the rally for Antwon Rose yesterday afternoon at the Allegheny County courthouse. The cop was posted up above Eddie V’s restaurant, kitty corner from the courthouse building. A tripod-mounted video camera is indistinct, but still visible, beside him. There was a second cop not present in this picture, but who was noticed by several witnesses. Both were observed looking at the rally through binoculars.
The rally was the usual protest theater so common in Pittsburgh. The organizers might or might not have had time to get an official permit, but the rally was obviously sanctioned by the police, who placed sawhorses to block vehicles from that block of Grant, directed traffic, and made no attempt to interrupt the rally during the exact two hours that it ran. Speakers were chosen ahead of time, there was no space allowed for spontaneous action, and everyone was sent home at the end. The key demand was that everyone register to vote in order to remove Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala from office, which begs several questions. What the hell are we supposed to do in the year and a half Zappala still has in office? He’s not going anywhere until January 2, 2020. Who is going to run against him? He ran unopposed in the last election, and in any case a Republican would probably be even worse. That means knocking off a sitting DA in the Democratic primary, and maybe having to beat him again if he switches to the Republicans to run in the general election. And finally, even if an opponent steps up to take on Zappala, what assurance do we have that person would be any improvement?
But of course the electoral strategy isn’t really meant to install a progressive DA in Zappala’s place, it’s meant to divert and pacify anger in the current moment. Professional nonprofiteers like Brandi Fisher of the Alliance for Police Accountability depend on the good will of Pittsburgh’s political establishment to keep the grant money flowing, and coopting grassroots social movements is how they get it. Why then were the cops filming her protest? Maybe because they wanted to take attendance of the new people who came out, and arresting them all would have been too much work? Anyone with further insights please share, torchlight AT riseup dot net.