Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎

FROM THE BELLY OF THE BEAST. NOTE NO. 8 by Godfrey Vincent

posted 28 Jul 2020, 10:27 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 28 Jul 2020, 10:42 ]
1. Presently, the US has 4,432,551 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The death toll has reached 150,425 (07/27/2020). By the time this note is published, the figure will be much higher. In addition to the rise in cases and deaths, the class struggle is intensifying.

2. Presently in Portland, Oregon, the Trump administration, under the guise of protecting federal property, has sent a paramilitary unit into the city. This unit has been in the streets for many nights and arresting protestors who are there to support Black Lives Matter and the death of George Floyd. For many nights, this unit has been teargassing, shooting, beating, and arresting the protestors. According to The Guardian, the Trump administration has sent in the unit despite the objections of Portland’s mayor, Oregon’s governor, and the two democratic senators (07/23/2020).

3. According to Newton’s Law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This is the case in Portland, where Wall of Moms, seeing their children brutalized in the streets, took direct action, and stood as a protecting shield. Bev Barnum, a Mexican-American, founded the group two Fridays ago. Feeling the need to change the narrative that all protestors are rioters, Barnum felt compelled to organize other women to take to the streets.

On the first night, the agents teargassed the moms. Undaunted, they returned on Sunday night and protected the protestors. On Tuesday night, the group faced off with federal agents who were sent to Portland by the Trump administration (Valarie Edwards, Daily Mail, 7/22/2020). Not to be undone, Portland fathers, using leaf blowers, joined Walls of Moms, and blew away tear gas from police (Matthew Impelli, Newsweek, 7/22/2020).

4. Witnessing this development in Portland, Walls of Moms groups are being formed across the US to protest the administration’s militarized tactics. Groups have sprung up in at least six cities including 
John Lewis
New York and Chicago. According to a Reuters report, “The Wall of Moms movement carries on a tradition of maternal activism, notably the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires who held weekly vigils for nearly three decades to draw attention to the disappearance of their children under a military dictatorship (7/22/2020). The class struggle was not only limited to Portland but also across US cities.

5. Not be outdone, a group of Navy veterans showed solidarity with the “Walls of Moms.” The military veterans joined the protests one week after one of their comrades was severely beaten by security forces. The veterans formed a line in front of the protestors outside a federal courthouse in Portland.

6. On July 20, 2020, trade unions, in alliance with Black Lives Matter, organized strikes across 25 US cities. Led by the Service Employee International Union (SEIU), workers in fast-food industry, airports, nursing homes, delivery services, etc., took to the streets and protested for paid sick leave, employer-funded healthcare, stronger workplace, safety measures, fifteen-dollar minimum
 wage, the right to organize in trade unions, and continual struggle against white supremacy in the workplace (See Associated Press, July 20, 2020).

7. In addition to the mass protests that are spreading across cities, the nation lost John Lewis (1940-2020), one of its iconic civil and human rights activists and a politician who fought for the working-class. Over the weekend, he took his final ride over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Ironically, this was the same bridge where John Lewis and hundreds of marchers were brutally beaten on Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965.

As a young working-class man and a child of sharecroppers in Troy, Alabama, John joined the local struggle in Troy to desegregate the city. Later on, he became a leading member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Linking up with Martin Luther King and the wider civil rights struggle, John became the youngest speaker at the March on Washington in 1963.

In that speech, among other things, John Lewis stated, “We march today for jobs and freedom, but we have nothing to be proud of. For hundreds and thousands of our brothers are not here. For they are receiving starvation wages, or no wages at all. While we stand here, there are sharecroppers in the Delta of Mississippi who are out in the fields working for less than three dollars a day, twelve hours a day. While we stand here there are students in jail on trumped-up charges. Our brother James Farmer, along with many others, is also in jail. We come here today with a great sense of misgiving” (See Voices Of Democracy: The US Oratory Project). John not only championed civil rights but he also fought on behalf of millions of undocumented people, trade unions and other organizations. Before his death, he visited BLM Plaza in Washington, DC to demonstrate to the younger generation that he has passed the baton to them.
Comments