The graduate student Newspaper of the City University of New York (CUNY), called The Advocate, ran an editorial in its 12/3 edition which called for violent protests in New York City, writing, “the acts of looting, destruction of property, and violence directed towards state representatives is not only warranted, it is necessary.”
The tome, written by Advocate editor-in-chief Gordon Barnes, “a doctoral student studying Latin American and Caribbean history at the Graduate Center, CUNY” was penned after the Ferguson grand jury cleared Darren Wilson, but just before the Eric Garner grand jury made its ruling.
Barnes justified the violence as the natural result of the evil, “capitalist” United States:
The violence of the police is almost always defensible in the eyes of the ruling elite, as evinced by Barack Obama’s platitudes to liberal desires to the rule of law in the aftermath of the grand jury decision. So, why then is the violence of the protestor so reviled? It is confounding that the people seem more concerned about the loss of property than the loss of life in the aftermath of the Ferguson decision. While there are opportunists who have used the protests to their own end, the acts of looting, destruction of property, and violence directed towards state representatives is not only warranted, it is necessary. If people could, they would target the police, but the protesters know that a direct confrontation (with what is now a military force in this country) at this time would likely result in their deaths. The destruction of property in the area is the next best option.
And while it is lamentable that some so-called mom-and-pop shops are targeted alongside the larger businesses, it is the truly dispossessed, downtrodden, social ostracized, and oppressed peoples who are engaging in the only viable option to lash out at an increasingly militarized, bureaucratically regimented, and authoritarian society. It is clear that while the murder of Michael Brown was the catalyst for these events, it is not the cause. The cause is the decades long, the centuries long, daily oppression people experience at the hands of the capitalist state.
In his manifesto for violence, Barnes makes it clear the facts of the case did not matter, but violence is justified simply because if Michael Brown killed officer Wilson, he would have gone to jail for life. That ignores any possibility that Wilson was following procedure and the shooting of Michael Brown may have been legitimate, as the grand jury indicated by not returning an indictment.
The time for peace has passed, indeed it never existed in this country. It doesn’t matter if Brown robbed a convenience store, or even if he assaulted Wilson. What matters is that the case highlights the depths to which the capitalist state and its police forces will protect their own and attempt to stifle any sort of dissent. Imagine if Wilson was the aggressor in the situation – which is more likely than Brown being the aggressor – and Brown defended himself with deadly force, mortally wounding Wilson. Brown would have likely go to prison for life, whereas Wilson has been cleared for what has been deemed a justifiable shooting. And it is justifiable based on how police operate within the United States: with near impunity.
Barnes’ only problem with the Ferguson violence was it wasn’t well-focused:
The problem with the protestors’ violence in Ferguson is that it is unorganized. If the violence was to be organized, and the protestors armed – more so than the few that sparingly are – then the brunt of social pressures would not be laid onto middling proprietors, but unto those deserving the most virulent response of an enraged populace……What is needed now is to take the next step from indiscriminate attacks to ones directly pointed at state power as well as at the lackeys and apologists who allow it to prosper. The transformative potential emanating from the protestors’ violence in Ferguson and elsewhere will not help recoup some “golden age” in the United States – there never was one – but can hopefully prove to be the kernel of radically altered social relations.
The Advocate itself seemed to disapprove of Barnes’ call for violence, for under his editorial was this disclaimer:
While the Advocate is opposed to state violence, and we support the protests on Ferguson, and we do not think that Wilson should be free, this editorial represents the individual views of the Editor-in-Chief, not the views of the Advocate or the DSC.
H/T NY Post