friday’s demonstrations

The police murder of George Floyd sparks mass protests throughout the world
Thomas Scripps, WSWS, Jun 6 2020

Demonstration at the Porte de Clichy, Paris, Tuesday Jun 2 2020

This weekend, hundreds of thousands of workers and youth will protest the police murder of George Floyd, not only in the United States, but in Australia, Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Hungary, Brazil, South Korea and many other countries. Demonstrations have already taken place this week in over a hundred towns and cities, in countries on every inhabited continent in the world. In South and Central America, thousands of people protested in front of the Federal University of Paraná in Brazil. Others demonstrated outside the state government building in Rio de Janeiro. Hundreds have also protested in Mexico and demonstrations have been held in Bermuda and Argentina. Australasia has seen dozens of protests, including of more than 3k people in Sydney, Australia, more than 2k in Perth and tens of thousands in Auckland, New Zealand. They carried banners that declared:

The government does not care! We the people must help each other! Australia is not innocent!

In Asia and the Middle East, demonstrations have been held in India, Japan, the Philippines, Turkey, Israel and Iran. In Africa, rallies have been organised in Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and South Africa. At least nineteen towns and cities in Canada have seen protests, including 20k in Ontario and 3k in Toronto. Across Europe, Germany saw thousands protest outside the US embassy in Berlin and the consulate in Hamburg. Slogans included:

Your Pain Is My Pain! Your Fight Is My Fight!

Thousands have protested in Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands; in Athens, Greece; in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Oslo and Reykjavik. Other demonstrations have been held in Italy, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Switzerland. The UK has witnessed at least 25 separate protests. Over 15k people gathered in Hyde Park on Wednesday and marched to Downing Street, carrying placards reading:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor! The UK is not innocent!

In France, 5k marched in Montpellier and 25k people defied a ban to protest in Paris. A speaker at the rally announced:

What’s happening in the United States highlights what is happening today in France!

Of extraordinary significance, in Austria, a massive 50k demonstrated in Vienna Thursday. If a similar percentage of the urban population protested in New York, this would equate to a rally of over 200k people. The international outpouring of solidarity is animated by opposition to Trump’s brutal repression of peaceful multi-ethnic protests. Their scale also indicates an initial recognition of the dangers posed to the Pindo working class and billions throughout the world by Trump’s drive to establish a presidential dictatorship. Moreover, the working class in every country sees in the scenes playing out in Pindostan an echo of its own social conditions, dominated by extreme and growing levels of inequality, which dictate ever more fascist forms of rule the world over. In addition to the state violence in Pindostan, Tuesday’s demonstration in Paris protested the death of French youth Adama Traoré, beaten and asphyxiated by police in 2016. It follows more than two years in which “yellow vest” protests against social inequality have been brutalised by Macron’s riot police. Brazilian workers are demonstrating against the wave of killings in Rio de Janeiro’s favellas carried out by police under Bolsonaro. German workers and youth have spent the past six years watching the unfolding of a conspiracy within the state and academia to rehabilitate the Third Reich, bring the fascist AfD to the fore and prepare a return to unrestrained imperialist militarism. Trump’s threat to designate protestors as “terrorists” follows the German state security service’s placing of the SGP on its extremism watchlist for the “crime” of conducting a fight against this fascist revanchism.

The global protests sparked by Floyd’s killing have also erupted nearly three months into a pandemic that, due to the deliberate and criminal actions of the ruling class, continues to have a devastating impact on billions of workers and young people. Hundreds of thousands have died, and millions have lost their jobs while trillions are funnelled into the coffers of the major corporations by governments of the financial oligarchy. Now workers are being forced back to work in unsafe conditions on pain of poverty and starvation. The police murder of George Floyd, and the daily scenes of unrestrained state violence against black, white and Hispanic youth have acted as a trigger event setting simmering class tensions alight. Last year saw a massive escalation of class struggle worldwide, with millions protesting worsening social inequality and the assault on democratic rights. At its May Day Rally last month, the WSWS drew attention to a concerned report by the leading imperialist think tank CSIS, which warned:

We are living in an age of global mass protests that are historically unprecedented in frequency, scope and size … The coronavirus will likely suppress protests in the short term both due to government restrictions in urban areas and citizens’ own reluctance to expose themselves to large public gatherings. However, depending on the future course of this likely pandemic, government responses may themselves become another trigger of mass political protest.

The WSWS and the IC4I have sought to politically alert the working class in anticipation of precisely such a re-eruption of the class struggle and to provide a revolutionary perspective and orientation. The moment lockdowns were ended, the first act of murderous police violence in Pindostan triggered a social explosion. Even under conditions in which millions rightly fear an escalation in the spread of the coronavirus, “global mass protests” have returned, in united opposition to the brutality of the capitalist state. The Pindo media will give little or no indication of these events, which testify to the real state of class relations and the real balance of forces in Pindostan and across the world. They prove that the Pindo working class, now involved in a struggle that demands the removal of Trump, has immensely powerful allies. The fight against Trump, hated throughout the world as the thuggish personification of rule by the oligarchy, will find huge support in the working class and youth in every country entering into conflict with their own rulers. Workers and young people must counter those efforts with the adoption of an opposed, internationalist program of struggle on which to remove Trump, Pence and their co-conspirators from office. On this basis, a world movement of the working class will begin to take shape that will take on and defeat Trump’s plan to impose a police military dictatorship in the struggle for socialism.

Encouraged by Trump, police rampage leaves protesters dead and wounded across Pindostan
Jacob Crosse, WSWS, Jun 6 2020

NYPD arrest on Fifth Avenue, Thursday Jun 4 2020 (Photo: John Minchillo/AP)

Operating with the backing and encouragement of Trump, who has threatened to deploy the military to suppress protests, and the aid of thousands of National Guard soldiers, police forces throughout Pindostan are engaged in an ongoing rampage. More than 10k people have been arrested in the less than two weeks of protests that followed the police murder of George Floyd. Most have been attacked by police and arrested for “failure to disperse” or violating curfews, under both mayors of both parties. Thousands of peaceful demonstrators have been teargassed, pepper sprayed, shot with rubber bullets and beanbags, beaten with truncheons and pushed to the ground, leading to serious injuries and in some cases death. While largely ignored by the mainstream media, video after video of police attacks have gone viral on social media, fueling popular outrage. Sarah Grossman, a recent Ohio State graduate, died last weekend after being exposed to CS tear gas fired by Columbus, Ohio police during a May 30 protest. The Montgomery County coroner confirmed that they are conducting an autopsy on Grossman, who is believed to have suffered an asthma attack after being doused with the chemical. No arrests or charges have been filed in Grossman’s death.

In Buffalo, NY, a 75-year-old man is in serious but stable condition at the Erie County Medical Center after being assaulted by officers from the Buffalo Police department at a protest Thursday. As of this writing, none of the officers have been charged for the assault, recorded on video, which rendered him unconscious. The video has been viewed over 72m times on Twitter and is being shared widely on other social media platforms. In the deeply disturbing assault, a Buffalo PD officer identified as Aaron Torgalski violently shoved Martin Gugino, a peace activist from nearby Amherst, to the ground. Gugino’s head struck the pavement and he immediately began bleeding out of his ear. Torgalski and his fellow officers ignored Gugino’s apparently lifeless body as they battered back worried onlookers and media. A petition demanding the Buffalo PD fire officer Torgalski has already exceeded its goal of 300k signatures in less than a day, expressing the widespread outrage among workers and youth of all races against state violence.

The vicious assault came after another day of peaceful protests in downtown Buffalo’s Niagara square. The protests were forced to end at 8 pm due to a curfew imposed by Demagog Mayor Byron Brown that is to last through Sunday. Buffalo police, clad head to toe in riot armor, formed a line with National Guard soldiers in the rear and began to violently force out the dozen or so peaceful protesters who remained in the public square. Gugino, walking alone on the sidewalk, approached the officers with a riot helmet that had been left behind, attempting to return it to the police. Officers in the video, recorded by WBFO, can be heard yelling, “PUSH HIM BACK!” followed shortly thereafter by the stomach-churning thud. The few remaining protesters and WBFO correspondent Mike Desmond, who was recording the attack, worriedly called for help. As one protester moved forward to attempt to render aid, an officer shoved him back, screaming:

What the fuck you walking up on me for?

The Buffalo PD initially attempted to cover up the crime. Michael DeGeorge, a spokesman for Brown and the Buffalo PD, claimed in an initial email statement sent to reporters at 8:50 pm that Gugino “tripped and fell” during a “skirmish involving protesters.” Desmond, who recorded the entire encounter, released the actual version of events in a Twitter video approximately 20 minutes later. Less than two hours later, the Buffalo PD was forced to suspend two officers without pay and begin an Internal Affairs investigation. There is no doubt that had the video evidence not been released, no officers would have been suspended, much less investigated. All 57 members of the Buffalo PD’s Emergency Response Team resigned from the unit as a “show of support” for the officers who were suspended, exemplifying the class divide which exists between the working class and the police.

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, LaToya Ratlieff is still recovering nearly a week after being hit in the head with a so-called “less lethal” foam rubber bullet round fired at protesters by police officers. Ratlieff, who participated in a peaceful protest with roughly 1,500 workers and youth last Sunday, was attempting to leave the protest after being hit with CS tear gas. The rubber bullet lacerated her skull and sent her falling face down onto the street, fracturing her eye socket. The Fort Lauderdale riot police had specifically set up their lines outside the parking garage where a majority of the protesters, including Ratlieff, had parked their cars, guaranteeing a confrontation. Ratlieff was roughly 10 yards away from the line of officers when she was shot in the forehead. When aimed at the neck or head, “foam baton” rounds are considered a lethal munition, according to the manufacturer’s manual. Worried protesters quickly ran to her aid, braving rubber bullets and tear gas to scoop up her bleeding body and transport her to the hospital. Ratlieff gave a video interview with the Miami Herald in which she contrasted the treatment her fellow working-class brothers and sisters gave her, compared to the care offered by Fort Lauderdale police. She said:

These strangers are helping me, they stayed at the hospital to make sure that I was ok… So, civilians and people that have to risk themselves, ‘cause they could get shot with rubber bullets too, came and saved me while these officers stood right there in that line and watched me bleed on that ground. They didn’t move. I didn’t see anyone come over to help me … not a single officer.

Still holding the expended round casing, roughly the size of an 8 ounce can, Ratlieff, holding back tears, ended the interview asking, “Why was I shot?” In a statement released days later, Fort Lauderdale Police said it didn’t have “specific information about the incident” and therefore, “no officers had been relieved of duty because of it.” The police department has refused to release incident reports from the day and no investigation is pending.

Four Tacoma cops put on administrative leave three months after killing Manuel Ellis
Julio Patron, WSWS, Jun 6 2020

Manuel Ellis

The four Tacoma, Washington, police officers who were involved in the Mar 3 death of Manuel Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man, were placed on administrative leave Wednesday, three months after he died. Back in March, the four police officers, Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, Masyih Ford and Timothy Rankine, were placed on leave after the incident but had since returned to duty. The move to place the four cops on administrative leave comes amid the wave of popular protests against police violence throughout the United States and internationally sparked by the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The investigator for the Pierce County medical examiner’s office, Rich O’Brian, found that Ellis had died of respiratory arrest due to hypoxia and physical restraint by the police officers, ruling the death as a homicide. Heart disease and the presence of methamphetamine were also listed as contributors to the death. Ellis, a father of two, can be heard on dispatcher radio calling out “I can’t breathe!” while in handcuffs in police custody. Marcia Carter, Manuel Ellis’s mother, said during a press conference in Tacoma:

Manny was taken from me. He was murdered.

She had spoken to Ellis half an hour before his death. The Ellis family is calling for the firing of the four officers involved in Manuel’s death, and hundreds turned out for a vigil in Tacoma on the night of Wednesday Jun 3. Tacoma PD spox Ed Troyer claimed that Ellis was found by police at 11:30 pm banging on car windows. He then approached the police car and asked for help, saying there were warrants out for his arrest. When one officer got out of his car, the police allege that Ellis grabbed him by the vest and threw him to the ground. A second officer got out and managed to get handcuffs on Ellis on the ground, where Ellis exclaimed, “I can’t breathe.” Troyer claimed that no knee or chokehold was used, nor a taser or baton. After Ellis said he couldn’t breathe, he was rolled onto his side and a medical unit was called in. He died 40 minutes after being restrained. Contradicting the claims of the Tacoma PD, footage of the arrest posted to the Tacoma Action Collective Twitter account Friday, shows Manuel being beaten to the ground while one officer grabbed a taser gun. The woman who recorded the footage can be heard yelling, “stop hitting him.” The video ends with Manuel being restrained by the cops on the ground. The woman who recorded the incident, Sara McDowell, has come forward to dispute the claims by the Tacoma police, saying that the police had initiated the confrontation. She states that Manuel was speaking to them through the car window, and then one police officer threw the car door open which knocked him on the ground. In an attempt to quell the outrage that has been sparked by the video of the encounter and the protests against police brutality and murder, the Demagog mayor of Tacoma, Victoria Woodards, released a video message saying she was “enraged” by what was exposed in the video, and continuing:

The officers who committed this crime should be fired and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As an African American woman, I didn’t need a video to believe, but it does take a video for so many people to believe the truth about systemic racism and its violent impact on black lives. I don’t get to take this skin color off every day. I don’t get to come out a different person. And while I am mayor, I am still black.

Tacoma police union representatives have called the mayor’s video theatrics and claimed the investigation will show the officers “did no wrong.” In a fascistic tirade against the outrage caused by police killings, the police union statement declared:

This is not a time to sacrifice dedicated public servants at the altar of public sentiment, especially when that sentiment is almost wholly fueled by the uninformed anger of a theatrical politician.

Police kill unarmed 22-year-old man in Vallejo, California
Minakshi Jagadisan, WSWS, Jun 6 2020

Sean Monterrosa

Police officers shot and killed an unarmed man in the parking lot of a Walgreens in Vallejo, California Tuesday, during the on-going wave of popular protests against police brutality around the United States and internationally. Sean Monterrosa, a 22-year old resident of Vallejo, was gunned down by officers from inside an unmarked police cruiser while he was on his knees, with his arms in the air. Monterossa was unarmed, though officers claimed that they feared an object in his pocket—which turned out to be a hammer—was a gun. At this point, the only details about the killing have come from the official police account and a press conference held by Police Chief Shawny Williams on Wednesday. According to the police, in the early hours of Tuesday officers responded to a call about potential looting in a neighborhood Walgreens. They found about a dozen people in the parking lot, who immediately fled in two vehicles on seeing the police cruiser. Monterossa, dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt, appeared to have been left behind. He immediately went down on his knees and began raising his arms. According to Williams, an officer who drew up in a second, unmarked car “perceived a threat” at this moment and fired five shots into Monterossa through the windshield of the car. The young man was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly after. While refusing to answer reporters’ questions about whether he thought the use of force was excessive, Williams waxed eloquent about the horrors of the “looting and burglaries” that had made Monday a “horrific night” for his department. The police, he said, had had to deal with an “orchestrated, organized assault on our city,” which is why they had welcomed the deployment of the National Guard.

The Vallejo PD has released no details about the officer responsible for the killing, other than to say that he was an “18-year veteran of the force” and that he had been placed on paid administrative leave. However, they seem to have no such hesitation about the victim. The PD has let it be known that Monterrosa had criminal record, and reviewed it in detail for the media. Tried and tested though it might be, the right-wing tactic of blackening the reputation of a victim is particularly disgusting in this context. Even if Monterossa had a criminal record a mile-long, that does not in any shape or form justify his murder by cops who had no idea who he was while unloading bullets into him. The claim that armed cops in the safety of a car were somehow threatened by a lone man in a parking lot who was on his knees and raising his arms up, is patently ridiculous. Making it a point to publicize the victim’s supposed criminal record is nothing short of grotesque. The picture of Monterossa that has emerged from his family, friends and larger community is starkly different from that being painted by the cops. The son of immigrants from Argentina, Monterossa was working as a security guard and a carpenter at the time of his killing. His father had been a surgeon in Argentina, and his mother a professional dancer. But they had settled into blue-collar work after migrating to Pindostan. Monterossa was committed to providing a better life for his parents, and his friends and colleagues attest to his involvement in improving the lives of his community at large. His two sisters told the SF Chronicle that Monterossa had been falsely accused of a few petty crimes and stopped by the cops in part because of the way he dressed and the fact that he was covered in tattoos. But he did not have any prior record. In a grim irony, the last text he sent his sisters was asking them to sign a petition protesting against the police murder of George Floyd.

The Vallejo PD has a well-established track record of brutality and murder. In 2012, Vallejo cop Sean Kenney made national headlines when he shot and killed three people within five months. Kenney retired in 2019 in part because of his injuries from a 2017 incident, in which he shot and seriously injured Vallejo resident Kevin DeCarlo for supposedly ramming Kenney’s unmarked police car. In Feb 2018, Vallejo cop Ryan McMahon shot and killed Ronell Foster, after attempting to stop Foster for not having a light on his bicycle. In Feb 2019, six Vallejo cops fired dozens of shots at Willie McCoy, 20, an up-and-coming Bay Area rap artist, who was asleep in his car at a Taco Bell drive-thru. The fact that this latest murder has taken place in the context of the massive ongoing protests against police brutality is chillingly telling. As Adante Pointer, a civil rights lawyer who has long represented Vallejo families, told the Guardian:

The eyes of the world are on policing and yet your officers still feel comfortable enough to shoot someone under what are the most questionable circumstances? If they could do this during the light of the George Floyd protests and world scrutiny, you can only imagine what they do in the dark of the night when no one is looking.

Protester explains how he was brutally assaulted by Secret Service in Faschingstein
Nick Barrickman, WSWS, Jun 6 2020

Image capturing George’s assault on film outside White House

A protester who had attended demonstrations outside the White House in Faschingstein last weekend spoke to the WSWS about a vicious assault that occurred when he was attacked by a club-wielding federal cop. On Saturday May 30, several hundred protesters gathered outside the White House for the second day of protest against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis five days earlier. Tweeting from the White House the night before, Trump had stated infamously “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” recalling the words used by the racist police chief of Miami Florida against protesters in the 1960s. The same day, he directly threatened the lives of protesters in the capital, declaring that trespassers would be met by “vicious dogs” if they sought to go onto the grounds of the White House. “They were brutalizing people,” said the individual, who will be given the pseudonym George for the sake of anonymity. He stated he had been part of a large group of marching protesters who the Secret Service were seeking to push away from the White House perimeter Saturday at around 5 pm. According to George, there were no warnings. He said:

I was up front, face to face with this guy in riot gear. They were pushing people back who were locked in a human chain. I’m a pretty big guy so while everyone else was getting moved back, I was standing my ground. I was hit by an overhead police baton strike.

Police training manuals refer to the police baton as an “impact weapon” carried for defensive purposes. According to a Wikipedia entry, the weapon is used “defensively to block, offensively to strike, jab, or bludgeon.” George shared several images of his beating with the WSWS, which had been caught on film by local WTOP television reporter Alejandro Alvarez and tweeted on social media.

George was not critically injured by the encounter. However, he said that he had friends who were not so lucky. he said:

The brutality is really tragic. I have friends who were hit by rubber bullets. One guy was beaten and got brain damage.

The media has sought to present the incident as though the protesters were “clashing” with the police. “I didn’t receive one warning” before getting clubbed over the head by a police baton, George said. Even the local press has noted that chants of “No justice, no peace” and “Hands up, don’t shoot!” could be heard coming from the crowd as they proceeded to the White House. According to statements from the office of Demagog Faschingstein Mayor Muriel Bowser, officers from the Metro PD reported no serious incidents between themselves and the protesters previously throughout the day. Metro PD chief Peter Newsham told WTOP:

We did not make any arrests, we did not have any reported uses of force, and we did not have any injuries reported.

The capital has been the scene of some of the most harrowing assaults on democratic rights in the past week, including the deployment of active military forces. On Monday, Trump had federal agents assault and forcefully remove protesters from Lafayette Square so that he could walk across the street to the nearby St John’s Episcopal Church for a photo-op. The church had suffered minor vandalism the night earlier. The use of military force on peaceful protests recalls the darkest periods in modern history and is part of a generalized drive by Trump and his supporters to establish a presidential dictatorship in Pindostan based on military, police and paramilitary forces, outlawing all forms of political opposition. George explained:

There are mutual friends I have who’ve supported Donald Trump for years who, after last weekend, are starting to question it. They are making our case for us.

George, who is a sympathizer with the IYSSE, spoke of the political lessons he has been drawing from the experience. He said:

I used to be put off by how you guys criticized Bernie Sanders, but you’re right about how he’s trying to cover up for the capitalist state.

On Tuesday, Senator Sanders published an open letter to Senate Demagog Minority Leader Charles Schumer, requesting that a series of demands be included in any federal police reform bill. Among the standard requests for civilian oversight boards, which many large cities already have, as well as utopian demands that stand no chance of being included in a final bill, Sanders called for “ensuring that the resources are available to pay wages that will attract the top tier of officers” in an effort to “modernize and humanize police departments.” George incredulously said:

He’s saying we should give them a raise! I’m sorry, but you can’t ‘free market’ your way out of police brutality!

Trump hails dubious May jobless report to boost stock market, back-to-work drive
Shannon Jones, WSWS, Jun 6 2020

People wait in line for help with unemployment benefits at the One-Stop
Career Center in Las Vegas (Photo: John Locher/AP)

Trump was quick to seize on the on the May jobs report released Friday showing a decline in the official unemployment rate to tout the success of his policies and virtually declare the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic ended. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate dropped to 13.3%, down from 14.7% in April, far lower than the rise to 19% that had been widely predicted. The numbers, uncritically accepted by the media, understate the actual rate in May by 3% due to what the BLS admitted was a problem in data collection that led to erroneously classifying many workers as “employed” who were actually out of work due to “coronavirus-related business closures.” At a press event Friday, Trump touted the reported fall in unemployment to declare his administration’s policies in handling the COVID-19 pandemic vindicated. He added, he was “bringing our jobs back” and that “the trajectory looks great.” In an obscene reference to murdered Minneapolis worker George Floyd, he claimed:

Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing happening for our country,’ A great day for him, a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody.

In fact, since the outbreak of the pandemic, the primary concern of Trump and, indeed, the entire political establishment, Demagogs no less than Thugs, has been to bolster the stock market. After funneling trillions of dollars to Wall Street, the Trump administration has pushed for a premature return to work, putting the lives of hundreds of thousands in danger. The economic desperation of wide sections of the population is being used as a club to enforce this. The markets surged 3.5% on the jobs report. The Dow Jones has regained virtually all the territory it lost since the first reports of COVID-19 in Pindostan sent it into a tailspin, while the NASDAQ is near a record high. A report by the IPS found that billionaires have regained $565b in wealth since Mar 18, driven by the resurgence of the stock market fueled by the federal bailout. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has seen his worth rise to $36.2b, while that of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has risen $30.1b in the same period. Moreover, the official unemployment rate is still higher that at any time in the post-WW2 period, surpassing even the Great Recession of 2008-2009. New weekly claims for unemployment benefits are still close to 2m, an historically unprecedented level. There is every reason to believe the “good” unemployment numbers will be used to say there is no need for further federal relief to displaced workers or states and cities.  Meanwhile, millions of workers face foreclosures, hunger, savage cuts in education, health care and other social services. In a text message Friday, a Thug boxtop wrote “Goodbye phase 4” after the numbers were released, indicating that Congress would likely refuse to pass any further economic stimulus measures to boost job-creation and provide aide to states and cities facing massive deficits due to the impact of the pandemic. Part-time workers accounted for about two-fifths of the over-the-month employment growth. According to the WSJ, if those who have given up looking for work, so-called discouraged workers, are taken into account, the unemployment rate would be 21.2% in May and 22.8% in April. The WaPo noted:

Economists, however, pointed out that even the latest data shows 28 million people had their jobs cut or hours reduced during the pandemic. Plus an alarming number, 2.3m people, now say they have permanently lost their jobs. There’s a long way to go before the job market gets back to where it was before the pandemic.

Digging into the numbers, there was an actual rise of 7.8m in the number of workers unemployed between 5 and 14 weeks. The number of long-term unemployed was up by 225k. Many economists downplayed the significance of the unemployment numbers.Jim O’Sullivan, the chief macro strategist at TD Securities:

The report does not change our view that the recovery will be much more gradual than the collapse.

Most of the jobs created in May were those of temporarily laid off workers returning to work. The number permanently laid off, 2.3m, was actually 295k higher than in April. This points to the fact that the pandemic will be used to effect a major economic restructuring and massive downsizing, including huge cuts in the public sector. Friday’s report shows the biggest layoffs taking place among government workers. Government employment registered a decline of 585k in May following a decrease of 963k in April. The bulk of the employment decline was in local government, which lost 487k jobs in May and 797k jobs in April. Much of that was due to school closures, but given that no federal money is likely to be allocated to alleviate school funding shortfalls, many of these cuts will no doubt be permanent. Forecasting firm Moody’s Analytics projected that the official unemployment rate would still be at 8.5% by the end of 2020, a recession level, representing a net job loss of 8m. Further, it is not clear how many small businesses, such as restaurants, will survive the pandemic. It appears highly likely that many workers called back by employers seeking to obtain loan forgiveness under terms of the Paycheck Protection Program will be laid off again when the program expires later this year. In a note at the end of the official press release on the May jobs report, BLS Commissioner William Beach stated that the unemployment rate had been significantly understated in April and May due to an error in the collection of the data. He noted that due to inadequate training of data collectors, many workers counted as employed should have been classified as temporarily unemployed “due to coronavirus-related business closures. He continued:

If the workers who were recorded as employed but absent from work due to ‘other reasons’ (over and above the number absent for other reasons in a typical May) had been classified as unemployed on temporary layoff, the overall unemployment rate would have been about 3% higher than reported (on a not seasonally adjusted basis. However, according to usual practice, the data from the household survey are accepted as recorded. To maintain data integrity, no ad hoc actions are taken to reclassify survey responses.

In other words, the unemployment rate for May would have been 16.3%, not the 13.3% being touted by the Trump administration and the media. For its part, the corporate media either downplayed or ignored the fact that the unemployment numbers for both April and May were significantly understated. The result was two-fold: to bolster the Trump administration with “good news” as it faces its biggest crisis amid continuing mass protest and to give another boost to the stock market. The utter servility of the so-called liberal establishment was further demonstrated when NYT columnist Paul Krugman was forced to issue a groveling apology Friday after suggesting on Twitter that the unexpected BLS figures for May might be open to question. At least to this point, no-one has offered a convincing explanation of why the consensus projections of economists of something in the area of 19% unemployment were so off. There has apparently never been such a sharp divergence between economists’ predictions and the actual BLS figures. Krugman had originally written:

BLS reports a GAIN in jobs and a FALL in unemployment, which almost nobody saw coming. Maybe it’s true, and the BLS is definitely doing its best, but you do have to wonder what’s going on. And as I look at the data, I’m starting to believe that the modest job gains may well have been real, not an artifact of the models.

He later apologized “for any suggestion that a highly professional agency might have been corrupted.” Krugman explained his climbdown by saying he had come under enormous pressure. One of those attacking him was Jason Furman, chair of the Obama administration’s Council of Economic Advisors. There is little doubt that NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger also weighed in. The accuracy of the jobs data takes a back seat for the ruling class to the numbers on Wall Street and the drive to resume the extraction of profit from workers forced to return to unsafe workplaces. However, for workers, the spectacle of a surging stock market amidst widespread economic devastation is a powerful argument for the socialist reorganization of society.

Mass protests erupt across Canada against police brutality and Trump
WSWS, Jun 6 2020

Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Toronto today in the largest protest against police violence and racism in Canada to date. Today’s rally comes after a week of protests from Halifax to Vancouver involving thousands of young people and workers of all races and backgrounds. Major protests began last weekend, with demonstrations attracting thousands in Toronto on Saturday, and Montreal and Vancouver on Sunday. On Wednesday, at least 2k participated in a “Justice for all victims of police violence” rally in Calgary, Alberta, while around 5k protested in the south-western Ontario city of Kitchener-Waterloo. At the Calgary protest, which was the third in the city within a week, participants chanted:

I can’t breathe! No justice, no peace! Black lives matter!

Another protest Monday attracted over 1k people. The immediate trigger for the demonstrations was the Minneapolis police’s brutal murder of George Floyd, and the mass multi-racial, multi-ethnic working class protests that have erupted in its wake in hundreds of cities acrossPindostan, but protesters were also angered by systemic police brutality and harassment of Afro-Canadians, immigrants and indigenous people, as well as the broader social crisis that has dramatically intensified as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the ruling elites’ criminally negligent response. Jenny, a participant at the Kitchener-Waterloo protest, told the WSWS:

I’ve been out of work for a few months now, because I was a waitress and my restaurant closed. It doesn’t look like it’s going to open again either. I like that everybody here is wearing masks. This COVID thing is horrible. All my friends are out of work too. I’m totally pissed at all this racism and I’m totally pissed at being unemployed. I’m totally pissed about everything, if you want to know the truth.

Over 8m Canadians, some 40% of the workforce, have applied for the federal government’s makeshift Canada Emergency Response Benefit. It pays a miserly $2k/month for workers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, corporations are seizing on generous government support to restructure their operations and permanently layoff thousands of workers. The latest announcement in this regard came yesterday, when airplane manufacturer Bombardier unveiled plans to permanently slash 2.5k jobs. Even as youth and workers were taking to the streets to show their solidarity with the Pindo protests against state violence and denounce police abuse in Canada, there was a series of new incidents and exposures of police brutality from across the country. British Columbia’s Independent Investigations Office recommended May 29 that the Crown charge five police officers for illegal use of force and obstruction of justice in the Jul 2017 death of 35-year-old Dale Culver in Prince George. The indigenous man was attacked by the officers with pepper spray as they attempted to arrest him. He subsequently developed breathing problems and died. Video also emerged of officers aggressively beating a man in Kelowna, BC, last Saturday during an arrest. In New Brunswick, a police officer shot and killed a 26-year-old Native woman during a purported “wellness check” Thursday in Edmundston. In Nunavut, a police officer faces a criminal investigation after being videoed driving a truck into an Inuit man Monday evening, whom he said he wanted to apprehend because he was intoxicated.

In response to George Floyd’s murder, PM Trudeau and other Canadian political leaders have made hypocritical statements about combatting racism. But they have refused to criticize Trump for ordering a ruthless police & military assault on the protests against police brutality, overturning constitutional prohibitions on the deployment of the military against civilians, and seeking to establish a presidential dictatorship. Trudeau’s 21-second silence Tuesday when he was asked by a reporter to comment on Trump’s actions, and subsequent evasive replies speaks volumes about the commitment of the Canadian political establishment to basic democratic rights. The Canadian ruling elite’s cowardly and conniving response to the Trump-ordered police rampage and his assault on core democratic rights and the Constitution is bound up with their predatory global imperialist interests, which depend on deepening their military-strategic partnership with Pindostan. It is also rooted in their fear that the Pindo protests will have and indeed already are having a catalytic impact on the class struggle in Canada, where the past four decades have seen a dramatic deterioration in the social position of the working class. The $650b bailout of the banks and big business organized by the Trudeau Liberal government and Bank of Canada and supported by parliament will further exacerbate unprecedented levels of social inequality, and is paving the way for a massive new class war assault on jobs, worker rights, and public services. While Trudeau remained tongue-tied on Trump’s incitement of police violence, which has led to the deaths of several protesters, the injuring of scores, and more than 10k arrests, he found his voice Thursday when it came to denouncing Chinese repression in HK. Referring to Beijing’s anti-democratic natsec law, which strengthens the Chinese state’s control over HK, Trudeau declared:

We have worked with some of our closest allies including the UK, Australia and others to condemn the actions taken by China in HK. We are extremely concerned with their stepping away from the one country, two systems agreement that was signed a few decades ago. We need to ensure that rights are defended around the world, including in HK.

As Trudeau’s response to Trump’s criminal anti-democratic actions demonstrates, Ottawa’s championing of “human rights” in HK is a sham. Over the past decade, Canada has become fully integrated into Faschingstein’s reckless drive to thwart China’s “rise,” including its advanced preparations for war with nuclear-armed China. Trudeau’s silence on Trump’s actions enjoys quasi-unanimous support within ruling class circles. Bob Rae, a onetime Ontario New Democratic Party premier and later interim leader of the federal Liberal Party, tweeted his support for Trudeau saying:

The PM of Canada is not going to give a running commentary on Pindo politics and President Trump.

In contrast with the frightened, anti-democratic response within Canada’ elite to the developing clash between the Pindo working class and a fascist president bent on establishing a dictatorial regime, protesters who spoke to the WSWS expressed unequivocal support for the biggest protests in Pindostan since the 1960s, and their opposition to police violence and the growing attack on democratic rights in both countries. Jamal, a young retail worker attending the Kitchener protest, spoke about his personal experience with police harassment. Jamal also explained that while racism plays a role, the targets of police violence are the poor and oppressed of all races, commenting:

Racism is not just in Pindostan. None of my friends trust the cops. This corner of the park here is where a lot of us like to hang out, especially on summer nights. We always get inspected by the cops for just sitting around talking. But it’s a big park and you never see them going into any other part where there are always a lot more people. It’s obvious they are profiling us because a lot of us are black. But you know, we have a lot of white friends too and they don’t get treated any better where we hang out. It’s even worse for the homeless guys who like to sleep in the area. I see them getting pushed around all the time.

Dave, a student who joined the protest, added:

Watching that cop squeeze the life out of George Floyd was totally outrageous. I think people are starting to wake up. Enough is enough! This town is surprising me. I was at that big teachers’ strike rally downtown last February. That was something to see too.

Bolsonaro calls demonstrators “terrorists” & threatens military repression
Miguel Andrade, WSWS, Jun 6 2020

In a fascist rant delivered during the opening of a field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, Pres Jair Bolsonaro once again denounced demonstrators joining marches in five Brazilian cities held in solidarity with the protests in Pindostan as “terrorists” and “outcasts” aiming to “break the country.” He called for governors to deploy the National Guard against demonstrators taking part in new anti-government marches scheduled for Sunday, a day chosen as an answer to the weekly fascist demonstrations held by Bolsonaro supporters on Sundays. These rallies feature Bolsonaro himself, regularly call for a military coup and hail the brutal history of torture and executions of the 1964–1985 military dictatorship. Bolsonaro’s latest threats came on the heels of a frenzied and terrified reaction by the president and his cabinet to the demonstrations last Sunday by youth joining the global wave of protests against the murder of George Floyd and social inequality, police brutality and racism, as well as the promotion of the latter by the Bolsonaro government. The demonstrations were met with brutal repression unleashed by state-controlled military police soldiers, which in turn protected fascist provocateurs bearing flags of the Ukranian neo-Nazi Right Sector. Protests have grown as Bolsonaro supporters respond to the Pindo marches by holding KKK-like nightly marches with torches at the Supreme Court and Congress in an appeal to the most backward and disoriented members of Brazilian society. Most significantly, Bolsonaro’s rant came just three days after an opinion piece published by vice-Pres Gen Hamilton Mourão published by Brazil’s oldest daily, Estado de Sao Paulo, calling for demonstrators’ forceful seizure and arrest. In the article, Mourão fully endorsed the denunciations of Bolsonaro, aping Donald Trump’s rants against “antifa” that the demonstrators were “terrorists” that should be proscribed. In the opinion piece, Mourão charged that “presenting the last anti-government demonstrations as democratic constitutes a clear abuse” and that it was an abuse to “forget who they are and to portray them as a counter-position to government supporters and transform them into legitimate demonstrators,” adding:

Trouble-makers were a police issue and not a matter for politics.

He also resurrected the well-known authoritarian trope of “outside agitators” to denounce demonstrators for “bringing to our country problems and conflicts of other peoples and cultures.” He further rallied against the senior member of the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) Celso de Mello, who warned on Sunday of parallels between Brazil and the Weimar Republic in the years preceding Hitler’s takeover, as “irresponsible,” dismissing Bolsonaro’s fascist rants as “rhetorical excesses” whose condemnation might lead “everyone to lose their senses,” thus justifying a violent reaction of Bolsonaro against the Court. Mourão is a notorious ultra-right coup-monger who was twice punished while in active duty for political statements against toothless attempts by Congress to review the horrific crimes of the 1964-1985 military dictatorship. He also presided over the ultra-right Military Club, an association of retired high-ranking officials that was one of the active proponents of the 1964 coup. But Mourão wrote his Tuesday libel with the authority of someone insistently portrayed as the “adult in the room” of the crisis-ridden Bolsonaro administration by the opposition’s former presidential candidates, Fernando Haddad of the Workers Party (PT), Guilherme Boulos of the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), Ciro Gomes of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT) and governor Flávio Dino of the Communist Party (PCdoB).

Sunday demonstrations were an initial expression of a long-suppressed class anger against Bolsonaro and the abysmal social inequality that defines Brazilian capitalism. In an act of political cowardice, the PT called for their supporters not to join the demonstrations scheduled for Sunday in order “not to offer the government, what it desires, the environment for authoritarian measures.” Hours later, the PT stated they were “in solidarity” with demonstrators and calling for them “to take care and not give in to provocateurs.” There is wide significance to the unleashing of brutal police violence on peaceful demonstrators and the ominous resurrection of the reactionary dictatorship-era language of “terrorism” and “infiltrators” and “external incitement” by Bolsonaro and Mourão after a week in which Bolsonaro’s bourgeois opposition was celebrating police raids on his supporters as the sign of his demise. The raids had been ordered by Supreme Court (STF) Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who presides over an inquiry on the incitement of far-right demonstrations against the STF by Bolsonaro supporters. It runs parallel to another inquiry, presided by the Justice cited by Mourão, Celso de Mello, on the charges presented by former Justice Minister Sérgio Moro as he resigned, accusing Bolsonaro of interfering in the Federal Police (PF) to protect his son, Rio de Janeiro senator Flávio Bolsonaro. Moro charged that Bolsonaro wanted to suppress investigations that might tie his family to criminal organizations known as “militias” which control gambling and drug trafficking and were also named as responsible for the death squad murder of Rio de Janeiro City Councilor Marielle Franco in 2018. Both are now at the center of the impeachment articles presented against Bolsonaro by the bourgeois opposition led by the PT, which claims Bolsonaro’s militia ties, interference in the PF and incitement of the far-right threaten the “internal security” of Brazilian capitalism.

One of the leading proponents of such charges of Bolsonaro as a threat to “internal security” of the Brazilian state, Estado de Sao Paulo editorialized only a day before Mourão’s threats that “something is moving” in Brazilian society and celebrated that the issuing on Sunday of the so-called “We Are Together” manifesto, a right-wing piece stating that “as was the case with the ‘Direct Elections Now!’” at the end of the 1964-1985 dictatorship, “it is time to leave aside old disputes and seek common good,” calling for “left, center and right” to be united “to defend law, order politics, ethics, families” and “responsible economics.” The manifesto brought together virtually all of the bourgeois and petty bourgeois opposition to Bolsonaro, from former Pres Cardoso to billionaire banker Alice Setúbal to former presidential candidates of the pseudo-left Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), Guilherme Boulos, Workers Party (PT), Fernando Haddad and his Communist Party running-mate Manuela D’Ávila. Every major news outlet, from Globo to Estado de Sao Paulo, immediately endorsed the manifesto, which has as a rallying point that Bolsonaro is a threat to Brazilian capitalism for “sowing disorder” by inciting the far-right; that is, that opposing Bolsonaro is necessary from the standpoint of avoiding mass political reaction from the working class. The apparent contradiction between a paper celebrating the “opposition” to the government in one day and opening it pages for a fascist rant by the vice-president in the next lays bare the unifying feature of such a so-called opposition: its loyalty to bourgeois institutions, and, above all, the repressive apparatus, which they see as being irreversibly demoralized by Bolsonaro. That includes the criticism made of the manifesto by former PT Pres Lula da Silva, who reportedly refused to sign the manifesto after his hand-picked candidate for 2018, Fernando Haddad, in order to placate criticism from PT supporters to its right-wing “law and order” language. The next day, he endorsed the right-wing manoeuvers on CNN International on Tuesday by saying the House Speaker Rodrigo Maia would have to choose “one of 36 impeachment petitions against Bolsonaro,” which includes the PT’s own petition accusing Bolsonaro of threatening “internal security”—in a vote. Even more revealing is the fact that such a “unity” movement is echoing the campaign spearheaded by the pseudo-left PSOL after Bolsonaro’s election. This campaign views Bolsonaro as the product of a subversion of an otherwise healthy Brazilian capitalism through a massive fake news campaign.

All of these forces have even adopted PSOL’s portrayal of Bolsonaro, according to which his chief crime is not the management of Brazilian capitalism and its absolute disregard for workers lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, or his all-out assault on workers social rights, but being tied to Rio’s militias, as “rogue element” of bourgeois rule that should be suppressed in order not to demoralize the bourgeois set-up. Now they are all hailing the fact that the Supreme Court is working to dismantle the “virtual militias” organized by his supporters, possibly uncovering evidence that could be used in PSOL’s petition to annul the 2018 elections because of the spread of “fake news.” Exposing the right-wing character of this whole movement spearheaded by the PT and the pseudo-left PSOL, Estado de Sao Paulo even compares Bolsonaro to the late Hugo Chavez, an unmistakable pro-imperialist trope that is only the corollary of PSOL’s campaign against Bolsonaro’s “threats” to the bourgeois order. While Mourão responds to the objective needs of the Brazilian bourgeoisie as it presides over the world’s most unequal major economy, Bolsonaro’s fascist drive also feeds on the complicity of the bourgeois opposition, which shares his and Mourão’s class interests and fears above all mass social opposition. Such opposition has nothing to do with the massive display of solidarity to Pindo workers and opposition to social inequality and police violence by Brazilian working youth seen since Sunday. This movement must now proceed in conscious opposition to the bourgeois manoeuvers to channel it back behind the capitalist state, tying its hands in face of massive repression.

Australian governments try to block demonstrations against police violence
Oscar Grenfell, WSWS, Jun 6 2020

Protesters at a demonstration in Perth on Monday night Photo: @ElastonHabbo/Twitter)

State and federal governments across Australia launched a hysterical campaign against protests being held today in solidarity with the mass demonstrations opposing police violence in the US, cynically claiming they pose an unacceptable risk to public health. Tens of thousands of workers and young people indicated they would demonstrate, despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison, along with state premiers, demanding that they stay away. Senior government officials slandered protesters as “insane.” The New South Wales state Liberal government successfully moved in the Supreme Court yesterday for the Sydney rally to be banned, creating the conditions for mass arrests. The effective illegalisation of the rally was only overturned by an appeal court today at the last minute. The Victorian state Labor government’s police threatened to fine participants and organisers of the Melbourne demonstration. These are outright attacks on the right to protest, a basic democratic right, that are aimed at establishing a precedent for the suppression of mounting social and political opposition. This underscores the necessity for workers, students and young people to oppose the bans and police threats. Any participants who are arrested or victimised must be defended by the entire working class.

The official rationale for the attempt to block the rallies, that they threaten transmission of COVID-19. is a lie. For the past month, the same governments seeking to ban demonstrations have proclaimed the necessity of “reopening” the economy. They have recklessly overturned lockdown measures at breakneck speed, forcing workers back into workplaces and herding thousands of teachers and students into schools in the face of substantial opposition. Governments have admitted that this back-to-work drive will result in increased infections, but are intent on a full resumption of corporate profit-making. Now, amid major global protests against police violence and fears in ruling circles of widespread discontent, these governments have “rediscovered” the dangers posed by the pandemic. The Australian ruling elite is well aware that the underlying causes of the explosive protests in the US are mass hostility to social inequality, authoritarianism and the dominance over society of a tiny corporate and financial elite. This growing divide is present in Australia, no less than internationally, and governments are responding with police-state measures, like their counterparts globally. The attack on the protests has been coordinated at the highest levels of the political establishment and the state. Yesterday morning, Morrison held a discussion with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews about preventing the rallies in the country’s two most populous states. Morrison previously expressed nervousness about the US protests, declaring on Tuesday they should not be “imported.” His assertion that the situation in Australia is different to that in Pindostan was immediately refuted by a brutal police assault against a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy in Sydney later that day. A protest in Sydney called at short notice was attended by over 1k people, following a large demonstration in Perth, Western Australia.

Morrison and the state premiers clearly fear that this weekend’s protests would attract mass support and could become the catalyst for a broader political movement. Echoing the prime minister, Andrews said it would be “irresponsible” to participate in the Melbourne protest and declared: “Victoria Police will not hesitate to maintain order.” Senior police officers said they would issue thousands of dollars in fines if more than 20 people took part, the number to which outside gatherings are currently restricted in that state. Berejiklian then announced that NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, acting under her government’s direction, would seek an urgent Supreme Court injunction to ban the Sydney protest. While she cited concerns over public health, Police Minister David Elliot blurted out the real reason, describing the protest as “not my kind of cause.” Significantly, Fuller’s application said the protest should be outlawed because it risked “inciting violence and other forms of unlawfulness.” It referenced the mass demonstrations in Pindostan and warned of the current public “mood.” The court, wary of too nakedly suppressing democratic rights, rejected these grounds. Instead it banned the protest on the public health pretext. The court cited the latest NSW health order, which supposedly limits outdoor gatherings to ten people. In reality, this is not enforced anywhere. In addition, the NSW government has permitted Returned and Services League clubs to have up to 500 patrons on their premises at any time. Yesterday it announced that corporate boxes would be reopened at Rugby League grounds, with up to 50 spectators in each room. The protest organisers, moreover, appeared to have taken substantial precautions, purchasing thousands of masks and hand sanitiser and appointing 50 marshals to monitor social distancing.

The Supreme Court invoked NSW laws stipulating that police be notified of a protest seven days before it is to take place. Organisers had fulfilled this anti-democratic requirement. In discussion with the police, they subsequently changed the notice last week, moving the rally to Sydney Town Hall. Police filled out the form, clearly implying consent. Despite this, the court ruled that sufficient notice had not been provided. Police stated that they could arrest anyone in a group of more than ten people. Police commissioner Fuller said that if 500 people attended the protest, this would trigger police action, including move-on orders, fines and arrests. Only at the last minute, after thousands of people had already gathered, did the Court of Appeal overturn the Supreme Court ruling. The anti-democratic moves further demonstrate that the build up of police powers is directed against social and political opposition from the working class. It exposes the false character of claims, including by the protest organisers, that police repression is solely a racial issue involving the targeting of Black people in Pindostan and Aboriginal people in Australia. In fact, the police serve a class role, defending the capitalist system and unprecedented social inequality, and cracking down on dissent. Workers and youth of all backgrounds have been subjected to police violence and murder. This demonstrates that the fight against police violence, including appalling and disproportionate deaths of Aboriginal people in police custody, is inseparable from a struggle against capitalism. The entire working class must be united in the fight for a workers’ government that would implement socialist policies. These would include abolishing the police and the military, placing the banks and corporations under public ownership and democratic workers’ control, and establishing a society based on social equality.

Autoworkers denounce police violence, Trump’s moves to impose military dictatorship
Jessica Goldstein, WSWS, Jun 6 2020

Autoworkers leave the Fiat Chrysler Truck Plant in Warren, Michigan,
after the first work shift, May 18 2020. (Photo: Paul Sancya/AP)

Anger among autoworkers over unsafe working conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic is increasingly merging with outrage over police violence and profound discontent over skyrocketing social inequality. In the past week, Trump has threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act and illegally deploy the military against mostly young working-class protesters who are demonstrating in hundreds of cities across Pindostan against the police killing of George Floyd over Memorial Day weekend. The conspiracy by Trump and his fascist advisors to carry out a coup d’état and establish a military dictatorship has been met with virtual silence and no serious opposition by the Demagog Party, which has attempted to promote complacency and downplay the dangers facing the working class. The fight against police violence and racism must be fused with the struggle for safe working conditions and all the democratic and social rights of the working class. We urge autoworkers to attend our online forum this Sunday Jun 7 at 3 pm EDT, “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Pindostan,” which will present a Marxist analysis of the historic events of the past week and outline the way forward for the working class. The multi-ethnic, multi-racial protests against the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis have evoked widespread sympathy among workers. Autoworkers spoke to the WSWS in recent days in support of the mass demonstrations and against the Trump administration’s threats of a military coup. Responding to Trump’s moves to deploy the military to crush the protests, a worker at Fiat Chrysler’s Belvidere Assembly Plant in northern Illinois said:

He’s definitely setting up the conditions for something really bad to happen. It’s all going to come to a head. Everyone’s angry at the police. And at all these corporations who rob the people every day, either by taking away pensions, or their wages, or some other way. We restarted production this week, but it’s not safe to return to work. No-one wanted to be there. Everyone said we shouldn’t have been back yet. It’s really crazy, the first two weeks we’re back, they’re rotating shifts every two weeks. But they have about 300 people who are lower seniority working first shift the first two weeks and then second shift the next two. They’re basically being punished. They’ll be coming into contact with more people and be getting less sleep, switching shifts, and have less ability to fight off the virus. With everything being shut down, you realize how important the daily worker really is. That’s honestly why they need us back to work. They’re not making money. We’re a lot more important than the CEO. They always say they can’t tell us who’s infected because of HIPAA and privacy laws, but I think we should have that information. I think they’re worried that the older, more experienced workers will plan a wildcat.

A veteran worker from the Ford Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri spoke in support of the SEP statement, “A call to the working class! Stop Trump’s coup d’état!” He said:

President Trump sending troops against citizens of his own country is against the law, and he needs to be stopped. Truth be told, none of the Demagogs or Thugs care if the workers have food to eat, health-care or education. All politicians have the best health-care and pensions, fully funded with tax money, but these are the same people that tell workers they must live off of $8 per hour and afford food and child-care with that. Then you have these billionaires like CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos who has more than five houses, but people who work for him are homeless and he won’t even give them enough to eat. I think it’s going to take the younger generation to lead the fight against the ruling class. A lot of the demonstrators are young and intelligent, but they need organization. I talk to a lot of the younger temporary part-time workers in the plant, and they work very hard for no pay, and they say: “We deserve better than this!” In the plant where we’re working, while the coronavirus spreads, there is no way you can do your job with social distancing. We can’t breathe in the masks. Last weekend it was almost 100 degrees with the humidity. I also heard that management is not telling us about known cases of workers with coronavirus infections who have been in the plant. The working class has always been the backbone of the country. The workers need to realize that Trump wants a dictatorship, and that he is trying to divide them, and they need to reject that and come together as one. Workers need to organize. I advocate being heard, all of us saying, “We’re tired of this! No more! Enough is enough!” Look at history. Look at the last Czar of Russia, Nicholas, who was starving the people. The people of Russia, the Bolsheviks, had a revolution. They had had enough.

A worker at Fiat Chrysler’s Kokomo Transmission Plant in Indiana spoke out against the police brutality and military violence unleashed against protesters by governments of both major parties across the country, and rising social inequality. Countering the media narrative that the protests had emboldened looters, she argued:

The real looting is the CARES Act bailouts. The state budgets did not get enough of the money in the appropriations, and they needed it. Now they have no money for teachers, public workers, they could rescind social security and we could have nothing for retirement. The rich and the politicians don’t listen to the voices of the people. They’re a different class. All we do is make them richer while we work for chump change. Some people who lost their jobs during the pandemic now need to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. It’s been very humbling for a lot of workers. I don’t see the unions working for us, either, because they’re for management. Their idea is that company management can do whatever it needs to do to manage their business. The union did not define to us what we needed to do for unemployment benefits. They gave us incorrect information on what we needed to do to apply for supplementary unemployment benefits and they do not stand up for us. I can’t believe we pay them dues for this! Protesting does not call for the military to be deployed. He is not following the Constitution. He is trying to be a dictator, and he can’t be allowed to be one. Police brutality is a problem that has been ongoing for years. It’s wrong that police have been getting away with brutality and killing people of every race. I saw a video in the news of a police officer breaking store windows with a hammer during the protests. I believe in protesting, and people standing up for something they believe in. If you have a big class of people in unity and solidarity with each other, it will be hard to break that bond. You need to get the word out that we need to get organized with a clearly defined goal. I think the protesters need to raise demands or they’ll be swept under the rug. They need to rise now and get every issue involved while everyone’s in an uproar. I think we can have the power because we’re actually working, we know the ins and outs of it. The rich people and the politicians have never worked a day in their lives.

Workers in Detroit and across Michigan support anti-police violence protests
Stephen Fuller, Kevin Reed, WSWS, Jun 6 2020

More than 200 employees of Ascension Providence Hospital, Southfield, Michigan,
took a knee at lunchtime on Thursday Jun 4 in an expression of solidarity

Powerful protests demanding justice for George Floyd and a halt to police violence have continued in Detroit and across Michigan over the past week, even in the face of escalating attacks by law enforcement. In a show of solidarity within the working class for the protesters this week, 200 health-care workers at Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan gathered outside at 12:30 pm to hold signs and take a knee in protest of police violence. For nine minutes, the crowd of doctors, nurses and others, most of them in their scrubs, kneeled in silence in front of the hospital, beside Nine Mile Road, a main thoroughfare in Southfield. Several people held their fists in the air. Several vehicles driving past honked their horns in support of the demonstration. Nearly everyone in attendance wore masks against the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of the nine minutes, the crowd counted down the last several seconds aloud, then applauded before returning to their jobs. While many of the demonstrations throughout Michigan have occurred without incident, several were met with repression at the hands of the police or national guard. Curfews were implemented in several cities. Hundreds have been arrested. Dozens of those arrested in Detroit were held in the loading dock of Little Caesars Arena for processing Tuesday night.

As elsewhere in the country, the protests have been multiracial and multiethnic with the largest demonstrations in Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo where thousands have participated. Dozens more have taken place in the suburbs and rural working-class small towns. Hundreds gathered in Muskegon, Bay City, Portage, Saginaw, Lapeer, and other municipalities and townships. In Detroit, protests have taken place for six successive nights. Demagog Mayor Mike Duggan implemented an 8:00 pm curfew on Sunday, after violent assaults by police on protestors. Although there have been minimal reports of looting as of Jun 3 over 381 people had been arrested. Several videos of unprovoked police attacks on protesters have gone viral. Cassidy, a young woman from the Downriver suburbs of Detroit, recorded a video of police roughing up a man who was walking away from the protests. After throwing the man to the ground and spraying him with mace, a group of officers shoved other nearby protesters and hit them with their shields. Cassidy told the WSWS:

We didn’t yell at them. There was no antagonizing. A lot of people are saying that the protesters are violent, and that’s why the police are being violent back, that people were throwing bottles and stuff, but nothing like that happened. They charged us for no reason at all. We hadn’t even made it to the actual protest yet.

Protesters were not the only ones in the crosshairs of the police. Several journalists reported being harassed, pepper sprayed or handcuffed. Denice Moran, a Detroit Free Press reporter, was placed on the ground and her hands zip tied behind her back, even though she was in a police-authorized media zone and identified herself as a reporter. She wrote on Twitter:

Police started shoving us and said they didn’t care we were media. One reporter went down hard. He is fine.

MLive photographer Nicole Hestler and three other journalists were shot by dozens of pepper balls while walking to their car. She said:

We were just trying to leave the scene. We weren’t charging at them.

Last Saturday night, Free Press reporter JC Reindl was chased down and pepper sprayed in the face while he was holding up his press badge. Later several Free Press reporters at the corner of Michigan and Griswold were targeted with rubber bullets, although none were hit. Detroit activist Tristan Taylor was arrested in Detroit on Tuesday evening and spent the night in jail on felony rioting charges after violating the 8:00 pm curfew. Taylor was finally released after a further demonstration on Wednesday afternoon demanding that he be let out of jail. Fifty national guard members from the Port Huron armory were deployed in Grand Rapids Monday night at the request of Demagog Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. Peaceful protesters were met with rubber bullets and tear gas after just after the 7 pm curfew. Of the presence of military Humvees and soldiers in riot gear, 21-year-old Rayna Johnson told MLive:

It’s really terrifying, and I think we should all be scared of it. We’re marching for human rights, and for it to be met with military presence speaks a lot to the fundamental problems within our system.

On Thursday evening, more than one hundred gathered in front of the historic courthouse in Howell, Michigan. Protesters said they were determined to demonstrate even though the Livingston County Sheriff asked them to refrain from going out. Protester Harley Wheeler told News 10 that she wants people to know Howell is a safe place for protest. She said:

Howell does have a bad history and I think we can change that. I think our first step to changing that was when we stopped a KKK meeting from happening on these same court steps. Our town came together 23 thousand strong to stop that from happening and this is our way of continuing that same stance that happened back then.

The news media and the Demagog Party in Detroit, along with corporate media nationally, is presenting the death of Floyd and fight against police brutality as exclusively the product of “systemic anti-black racism,” deliberately concealing the class basis for the violence of law enforcement against the working class. While racism plays a role in police violence against workers and the poor, as shown by the disproportionate number of black deaths by police per population, the total number of whites killed by the police each year across the country is actually double the number of black people. The foundation of police violence and murder across Pindostan, regardless of race or ethnicity, is economic and social inequality. As the protests in Detroit and other cities have demonstrated, a powerful racially integrated movement has developed against police violence. This struggle can only be taken forward on the basis of a strategy to unify the entire working class against the source of inequality, the capitalist system, and to fight for socialism.

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