Can It Happen Here?

No, I don’t mean that kind of open mutiny, as is occurring in Greece, but the State running out of tear gas. Road salt, or anything else, yes, but never weapons, lethal or otherwise. Occasionally, they will cry like spoiled debutantes and pretend their gear is falling apart, but funding is first priority, survival for bureaucracies, even the ones entrusted with dispensing legal violence. The physical militarization of US police forces, (as opposed to the granting of law enforcement powers and duties to other government agencies, businesses and citizens)  the kind that’s easy to see, with carbines in every radio car, mechanized infantry patrols, and this little drug war machine, helped keep defense contractors in the red, between the end of the Cold War and the 9/11 attacks.

The US Congress passed the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Officials Act, in 1981 which allowed for the sharing of information, facilities and equipment and training by active-duty military personnel in 1981. The policies of the “liberal”  Clinton administration facilitated a massive increase in paramilitary raids and the issue of absurd amounts of military hardware to civilian police departments:

Between 1995 and 1997 the Department of Defense gave police departments 1.2 million pieces of military hardware, including 73 grenade launchers and 112 armored personnel carriers. TheLos Angeles Police Department has acquired 600 Army surplus M-16s. Even small-town police departments are getting into the act. The seven-officer department in Jasper, Florida, is now equipped with fully automatic M-16s

Greece

Greece

The Greek police look almost naked and empty-handed compared to the toys that police in the US are issued. I literally own more riot gear than the average, individual, paid terrorist in Greece, from what I’ve seen. Contrast that with the kinds of equipment deployed for even the smallest demo in the US. A stark contrast to the Ninja turtle suits, APCs, grenade launchers and tons of other shit that this jealous little boy wishes he had. Even a minor traffic stop quickly turns into an unpermitted FOP convention with traffic jams for the rest of us.

USA

USA

It’s also been the better part of 40 years since shit has actually gotten out of hand, in any kind of big way, so it’s not easy to predict how contemporary, widespread civil unrest would be dealt with.  Would you see the National Guard machine-gunning apartment buildings ala Newark, ’67 or state bombings not unlike they did to MOVE?  We know that the less lethals are reserved for white folks, as it stands, but there’s no way of knowing if they’d go to live ordinance for anyone who can’t pass for white, as they have clearly done in the past. The violence directed towards Katrina victims by State and mercenary forces in New Orleans, not to mention the media , may be a preview of the kinds of treatment that will accompany the acceleration of the crumbling empire.

Race is obviously a factor in the US equation and the Alexis’ assassin was a member of an organized neo-fascist group called the Golden Dawn. There is obviously no kind of reasonable evidence to begin to quantify how many US police are members of neo-fascist groups, but given the level of institutional racism in the US, from the 3/5 compromise to racial profiling, there is really no reason to bother with such wannabees or their little clubs, except to protect them from the rest of us. The heavy reliance on informants and illegal combatants plainclothes infiltrators further blurs the line between official and unoffical hate groups. The situation with the Love Park 4 is a good example of this kind of symbiotic relationship. This is to say nothing of the role of liberals who confuse “free speech” with hate speech.

There have been some grumblings regarding the deployment of regular US troops for domestic purposes, but this is nothing new. Despite the alleged protections of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the rarest of birds, a one sentence law enacted by southern democrats after the US civil war, Federal troops have been used to break dozens of strikes, before Big Labor was successfully recuperated. The State must not trust the local cops at the end of the day, and maybe their loyalties will lie with the people in the end. In more recent years, super-secret Delta Force commandos were on the ground at the 1984 summer olympics in California, the 1993 State murders of religious kooks and their children at Waco and  the 1999 WTO demonstrations in Seattle.

Whoever, except in cases and under such circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or by Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined no more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Aside from the cop-toy shortage in Greece it also seems bizarre that the terrorist who murdered Alexis would be charged with any miscounduct, a rare occurrence in the US. Of my two cop relatives who have murdered civilians, neither of them did any time for killing, but one of them was briefly detained and released without charges for allegedly stealing from the victim. The police didn’t make this system and they are a relatively new development. If the US ran out tear gas, I imagine law enforcement types might begin to protect and serve the people. The local medical examiner, who by all accounts is something of a megalomaniac, has spent a good deal of time in federal court over machine politics as usual, and the only thing that makes him any different than the rest of the region’s bottom-feeders, was his suggestion that State violence was unjustified in several incidents.

It was also strange to read that this was the first teenager murdered by the state in Greece since 1985, but apparently there are consequences for such behaviors. Here, it happens so often that no one seems to notice and the media loves to blame a victim,  and brandishing a firearm (or old-timey cell phone) at members of a specialized warrior class with a license to kill is a high risk behaviors, and the outcome of these incidents is not very surprising.

This another example of the multi-tiered US justice system, where the privileged classes (the wealthy, the famous, politicians, informants, security forces) are exempt from the both the spirit and letter of the law. A clear, simple example of this is the removal of civilians and media to make room for off-duty police to intimidate witnesses and jurors in cases where civilians defend themselves from State violence.

Another tier is for those who appear repentant (and/or attractive) enough to be willing to retain an attorney, with punishments well below the level stated by the law. At the bottom is everyone else, (the poor, the mentally ill, the illiterate) who are subject to the brunt of the law. The “impeach Bush” wingnuts refuse to acknowledge this as sure as the right-wing constitution worshippers who too act surprised, when ‘the rule of law’ is ignored by privileged groups and indviduals.

I must admit to being ignorant to the nature of the Greek legal system, as well as other objective realities (I have personal comrades on the ground there, as of 12/14) but the notion of a constitutionally mandated “no-go” zone such as is the case with Greek universities seems like a parallel universe to someone as ignorant and provincial as me, who has never left North America. The only “no-go” zones that have existed in the US, that I can recall firsthand in my lifetime were created with firearms, during the upsurge in entry-level capitalism in the early 90’s.

Maybe the sheer numbers of personal firearms in the US, as opposed to Olde Europe, provides the justification for the supression of dissenters? Obviously media complicity is a factor, as is institutional racism, and the US epidemic of Stockholm syndrome, which results in a lack of sympathy for freedom lovers and fighter, but I’m sure I must be missing something. I guess that’s why the urban guerilla-type groups in Europe fared so much better than their US counterparts. Who knows, maybe the police will get tired and quit? Part of the job is creating the appearance of being superhuman and that’s not easy to keep up. We don’t often get to see these types of things out, normally the unions sell it out pretty quick, and I’ve read something to that effect. This appears to be more youth than labor oriented so maybe ther is no central command to accept concessions.

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3 Comments

  1. another great post filled with well-equipped musings.

    i’ve been fascinated also with this notion of a no-go zone… it does seem like a parallel universe. i’d love it if we could hole up at pitt every time something when wrong at a protest. by the way, i can’t find any record of this greek law, or history on how it came to be… a quick search of the wiki entry and the greek constitution for the word “universit” only brought up the bizarre laws about how universities weren’t allowed to be private entities until recently.

    i know i keep stalling on my full response, but part of my argument in the voting question is that some laws seem way more useful to anarchists than other laws. no-go zones seem way better than joe biden’s crime act. net neutrality seems way better than john mccain’s sb 1003. some politician made those no-go laws. i agree with laura’s critique of “rights”, but without that protection, it’s hard to see how this rioting would be as successful. maybe i’m naive here in thinking that law is helping the anarchists, but it sure seems like that at first glance.

    i want comrades working every front, even if they sometimes seem (or are) at odds.

    “at first glance two hands moving towards each other appear to be in conflict, but the effect is to cause the CLAP” – some butchered sufi saying

    • Here’s some background on the university asylum policy. They crushed students with tanks at Athens Polytech during the 1973 rising, so it’s written into the constitution. Administrators can invite the police onto campus, but they’d probably regret that.

      Enforcement of laws and freedom to exercise “rights” are so selective here that it’s really tough to base very much on that. For example, say we wanted to have a drill team that carried rifles with breech plugs in a permitted demonstration, like ROTC do in parades, essentially the same thing. We would likely be charged with ‘brandishing’ even if we kept the unloaded, plugged weapons on our shoulders, and we’d be white people doing it. Unless there were 120 of doing it, then we’d be left alone.This despite PA having an “open carry law”

      It’s hard for me to ask for rights that won’t likely apply to people who lack my privileges.

      Here’s something Obama won’t likely respond to. I don’t think they saw it coming.

    • To paraphrase Bob Black, the “rule of law” is the white man’s ghost dance. Light can only penetrate the depths so far.

      There’s room for difference of opinion and perspective in my little fiefdom and the size doesn’t matter. I worry about what seems like the lowest common denominator, “platformism-lite” that so many of the formal groups have no choice but to adhere to. It’s better than nothing.
      I think too many post-left types fail to consider that the formal groups and even issue oriented stuff are important defensive structures. Legal support, websites, and other communications are easier to facilitate with one foot on the dock.


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