border police are always racist by selection

What is BORTAC and why is it patrolling the streets of Portland?
Genevieve Leigh, WSWS, Jul 27 2020


Workers and youth in Pindostan and around the world have watched with horror in recent days as gangs of heavily armed men, wearing generic camouflage without unit insignias or name tags, brutalized and illegally detained protesters on the streets of Portland, Oregon. The federal agents have used CS tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper bombs, flash-bang grenades and sonic weapons that can do permanent physical damage against peaceful protesters. In the most chilling scenes, captured on video by demonstrators, the unidentified paramilitaries have seized protesters and thrown them into unmarked vans and cars for “questioning.” These squads of federal agents are drawn from a variety of agencies under the umbrella of the DHS. They were deployed at the direction of the agency’s top officials in Faschingstein. The squads include agents from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Marshal’s Service, the Coast Guard, the Federal Protective Service and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The DHS has reportedly placed a total of 2k officers on standby for deployment around the country. Spearheading the attack are agents of a little-known special unit within CBP called BORTAC, short for Border Patrol Tactical Unit.

Since February of this year, the Trump administration has been mobilizing BORTAC to carry out immigration round-ups in 10 cities where local governments have ordered police not to fully collaborate with federal immigration agents in detaining and deporting immigrants and carrying out immigration raids. A spox for Immigration and Customs Enforcement explained in February that BORTAC was being mobilized to increase arrests of immigrants by 35% in the 10 cities. To date, BORTAC agents have carried out operations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and Newark. The deployment of BORTAC to Portland came in response to the wave of mass protests over the May 25 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Portland was chosen to serve as a test case and example of the type of methods President Trump has pledged to carry out to “dominate” and suppress the protests against police violence, which he has labeled “anarchist riots.”

On Jun 1, he announced that he would invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 and order thousands of active-duty troops into Faschingstein and other cities across the country to put down the protests, effectively overthrowing the Constitution and establishing a presidential dictatorship. He was blocked in this effort by current and retired military officers, who felt the coup d’état had not been properly prepared and could spark an uncontrollable public backlash. Far from abandoning this agenda, he is seeking to implement it piecemeal, using, in the first instance, paramilitary thugs bloodied in the Gestapo-style border pogrom against immigrants before calling in the military directly. This police state operation is aimed at the entire working class. Under conditions of the greatest public health, economic and political crisis in modern history, and amid growing working-class resistance to the government’s homicidal back-to-work policy, the Pindo ruling class is preparing its forces of repression for an explosive growth of social opposition to capitalism.

BORTAC is the tactical unit of the Border Patrol, a branch of CBP. Often described as the CBP’s equivalent of a police SWAT team, it is more accurately defined as the CPB’s version of a military Special Forces unit, like the Army Green Berets or the Navy SEALS. The unit was founded in 1984 to put down protests by immigrants at Immigration and Naturalization Service detention facilities. It rapidly expanded its scope and “mission capabilities” in the following years, most dramatically after the 9/11 terror attack. In 2007, BORTAC was placed under the command of the newly formed Special Operations Group (SOG), together with its sister group, the Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue Unit (BORSTAR). The agency is currently headquartered at Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas. The Border Patrol maintains several BORTAC units located at various locations throughout Pindostan. These units operate under the direct control of Headquarters, Special Response Teams, located in Faschingstein. The agency in its current form is characterized as “a rapid response unit” capable of “executing both foreign and national level domestic operations.” BORTAC agents have operated in 28 countries around the world.

When participating in what are deemed “high-risk missions” domestically or abroad, BORTAC agents are authorized to use a wide range of deadly weapons and equipment, including certain types of grenade launchers, 37 mm gas guns, M4 Carbines (high-powered assault rifles) and the Steyr SSG rifle (a type of sniper rifle). BORTAC agents are authorized to carry firearms on and off duty. When conducting operations, BORTAC personnel are also equipped with a Kevlar ballistic helmet and an armored assault vest. When deployed domestically, these agents wear numbers instead of name tags for “the protection of the officers,” according to CPB. The stated mission of BORTAC is “to provide the Immigration and Naturalization Service with a specially trained and equipped tactical unit to address unusual situations within the service by use of special techniques.” A CBP fact sheet on the agency states:

It’s in the desert where BORTAC teams are really in their element. Agents hide in the desert brush and wait for illegal immigrants or drug smugglers to sneak down centuries-old secret trails.

In other words, BORTAC agents are trained killers who specialize in hunting immigrants. A former DHS official speaking to the WaPo under conditions of anonymity said:

BORTAC agents are viewed within the military & intelligence community as highly-trained, valuable, scarce resources. They would typically be used for domestic law enforcement in extraordinary circumstances. These units don’t normally sit around idle.

Both BORTAC and its sister group BORSTAR are relatively small units compared to Pindo military Special Operations forces. The most recent data available, from 2016, shows that the two agencies employ 271 BORTAC and 282 BORSTAR “active” and “ready reserve” agents. There are 180 additional trained agents marked as “inactive.” The units have operated with or received training from the Coast Guard’s former Drug Interdiction Assist Team, military Special Operations forces such as the Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces, and elite police and military units of several foreign nations. They are trained in intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance; foreign law enforcement; Border Patrol capacity building; airmobile operations; maritime operations and precision marksmanship. Every agent is sniper certified.

Over the last two decades, BORTAC has operated extensively overseas, assisting in Pindo imperialist crimes all over the world. Its rap sheet includes involvement in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, both part of the illegal and unprovoked invasion of Iraq in 2003 that resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the destruction of the country’s social infrastructure. To date, BORTAC agents have conducted missions in Colombia, Panama, Estonia, Haiti, Peru, Belize, Mexico, Costa Rica, Kenya, Ukraine, Kosovo, Argentina, Honduras, Ecuador, Bolivia, Moldova, Ethiopia, Armenia, Tajikistan and Guatemala. During the “war on terror,” BORTAC agents were deployed to Jordan, Iraq and Afghanistan. They have also been involved in countless “counter-narcotics” operations in South America, most notably in El Salvador and Bolivia. While conducting what the agency refers to as “foreign internal defense missions,” BORTAC agents provide training to “host government personnel.” BORTAC has provided tactical team and counter-narcotics training to dozens to foreign police officers and paramilitary units.

From 2005 to 2007, agents were heavily involved in training Iraqi border police. BORTAC agents also “advised” and operated alongside Iraqi border police officers in the field from 2008 to 2011, serving as members of “DoD Security Transition Teams.” The Pindo unit trained the Iraqi border police tactical teams as well as Iraqi border police officers and managers. Within Pindostan, BORTAC operates along the Pindo southern and northern borders. The agency also continues in its original task of “providing assistance” to the Bureau of Prisons by brutalizing inmates during large-scale “inmate disturbances.” BORTAC teams are often deployed to assist local law enforcement in “high-profile” events. Instances of publicly known deployments of BORTAC units include the 1992 Los Angeles protests against police violence, where they operated among 1k riot-trained federal special agents. The protests erupted in minority working-class areas of LA against the travesty of the Simi Valley criminal trial of police who brutally beat Rodney King, which ended in acquittals.

In Apr 2000, the unit was utilized in the high profile case of six-year-old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez. BORTAC was used to raid the family’s home in Miami in order to seize the child for his return to Cuba. More recently, the agency was used in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. According to CPB documents, agents were called into New Orleans and deputized as marshals to “restore order” and “deal with the looting” that followed the devastation and flooding from the hurricane. In reality, BORTAC was deployed primarily to suppress expressions of popular outrage over the callous, incompetent and inhumane government response to the hurricane. The deployment of BORTAC in Portland is for the same purpose: to intimidate and repress youth and workers protesting police brutality. It marks a major escalation of the assault on democratic rights and the turn toward dictatorship in Pindostan. The police state scaffolding built up over two decades, ostensibly for use against terrorists, has been turned first against immigrants and now against the working class more broadly.

Who is responsible for the creation and deployment of BORTAC? The Trump administration is in a deep and unprecedented political crisis. The political establishment, Demagog & Thug alike, has responded to the coronavirus pandemic by funneling trillions of dollars to corporate Pindostan and Wall Street in order to keep the stock market afloat. The failure to fund or organize any serious response to the public health crisis triggered by the pandemic, compounded by the criminal back-to-work drive, has resulted in a full-scale catastrophe. Infections and deaths are spiraling out of control. The entire economic and political system of capitalism is being irreparably discredited. Now, amidst Depression levels of unemployment, the White House and Congress are cutting off the expanded jobless benefits that enabled millions of families to avoid homelessness and hunger.

With his poll numbers falling, Trump is flailing about and turning to the most brutal and repressive measures. The corporate media is openly speculating on whether the November elections will be held, and, if they are, whether Trump will accept a result that goes against him. It would be a fatal mistake, however, for workers to believe that a victory for the Demagogs and Biden in November would halt the attack on democratic rights, as they are being told by much of the media, the trade unions and the various pseudo-left organizations that promote so-called “progressive” Demagogs such as Sanders. Not a single prominent Demagog, including Biden, Obama and Pelosi, has denounced Trump’s measures for what they are: an assertion of dictatorial powers. The Demagogs have made no appeal for popular protest against the threat of a police state. They fear a mass movement of the working class far more than they fear Trump’s dictatorial agenda. They have sought from the outset to channel mass opposition to Trump behind their war-mongering anti-Russia campaign and opposed any real fight against Trump’s attacks on immigrants and on the working class as a whole. In recent weeks they have stepped up their promotion of the dangerous illusion that the military will defend democratic rights in opposition to Trump: the same military that has carried out war crimes around the world. They promote their own authoritarian agenda, including internet censorship, in alliance with the CIA, the FBI and sections of the military.

The Demagog Party’s complicity in Trump’s attacks runs much deeper than silent complicity. Trump did not erect BORTAC or any of the other bodies of armed men he is now mobilizing to crush popular opposition. The police state scaffolding in Pindostan has been built up over decades by Demagog & Thug administrations alike. The Obama administration, in particular, played a major role in building up the capabilities of ICE. After coming to power, Obama vastly expanded a program begun under Bush called Secure Communities. The program brought federal, state and local law enforcement agencies together with ICE in an effort to deport immigrants who were already living in communities, as opposed to those attempting to cross the border. Prior to the Obama administration, there was very little interior enforcement. By the end of 2011, however, the number of immigrants arrested in the country’s interior equaled the number arrested along the border. Obama earned the nickname “deporter-in-chief” by deporting approximately 3m immigrants during his eight-year term. That was roughly double the rate under Bush 43 and more than the number deported by any previous president in Pindo history. The administration’s “reform” measures focused not only on immigrants already residing in the country, but also on strengthening “Fortress Pindostan” at the border. In 2010, Obama signed into law a bill that allocated $600m to further militarize the Mexican border by hiring thousands of additional border agents and using Predator drones to patrol from the sky.

The Obama administration’s illegal drone assassination program abroad resulted in the deaths of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. In Sep 2011, Obama authorized the assassination of a Pindo citizen, fundamentalist cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, in Yemen. This murder, a flagrant violation of Pindo and international law, set a precedent whereby the POTUS can sign death warrants for Pindo citizens on his own say-so, without charges or trial. After spending trillions of dollars to further build up the military-intelligence apparatus, Obama handed Trump the reins and told the Pindo sheeple to respect his presidency. In his final press conference in the White House, he vouched for the political legitimacy of the incoming administration and declared that having won, “it is appropriate for him to go forward with his visions and his values.” The Demagog Party represents a faction of the same ruling class to which Trump himself belongs. Not a single step forward can be taken with the framework of the two-party system. The fight against the Trump administration, militarism and dictatorship and the defense of democratic rights is a fight against capitalism and Pindo imperialism, which must be conducted independently of and in opposition to the Demagog Party. Furthermore, the fight against the Trump administration must be connected to the fight against social inequality, the destruction of social programs and infrastructure, the attack on jobs and wages, the persecution of immigrant workers, and the consequences of unending war, which threatens all of humanity.

Protester shot and killed in Austin
Jacob Crosse, WSWS, Jul 27 2020

On Saturday night, a protester was shot and killed in Austin as demonstrations erupted across Pindostan in response to ongoing attacks on protesters in Portland by federal paramilitary police deployed by Trump. Protests against police violence were held in dozens of Pindo cities over the weekend, including New York, Richmond, Omaha, Austin, Baltimore, Louisville, Denver, Seattle, Portland and Oakland. Garrett Foster, 28, was shot and killed after a confrontation with a motorist who attempted to drive through the crowd during a Saturday night march in downtown Austin. Police have released scant details about a person who was detained in the shooting, questioned by authorities and released without being charged, according to Austin Police Chief Brian Manley. A vigil was held for Foster in Austin Sunday evening. Foster, who is white, was marching with his quadriplegic fiancée Whitney Mitchell, who is black, when the pair were almost struck by a car. The high school sweethearts had attended numerous protests in support of Black Lives Matter and against police violence over the past two months. In an interview with “Good Morning America,” Sheila Foster, Garrett’s mother, explained:

Garrett was marching because he feels really strongly about justice and he’s very heavily against police brutality, and he wanted to support his fiancée.

Foster was legally carrying an AK-47 assault rifle at the time he was shot. No video has been released as of this writing that shows the exact moment the shooting occurred. Social media video and eyewitness accounts confirm that a black car made an aggressive right turn through a crosswalk as protesters were marching down the street, nearly striking several people. As protesters surrounded the vehicle, five shots were heard, followed by screams and another three gunshots. Tony Plohetski, a senior reporter at Austin’s ABC television affiliate KVUE, confirmed along with Austin police that two people discharged their weapons Saturday evening, neither of whom was Foster. Reporters for KVUE spoke with eyewitness and marcher Haven Trahan, who recalled seeing the vehicle “floor it” and turn right, heading “down the street at us.” At that point, according to Trahan, Foster and other protesters confronted the vehicle. Trahan said:

Garrett Foster died protecting us, not just the protesters, all of us. He was out here, day in and day out.

While there is inconsistent data, at least 25 people have been shot and killed since protests began nearly two months ago in response to the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. At least several of these homicides are known to have been carried out by right-wing, pro-Trump elements. This includes the killing of James Scurlock of Omaha, Nebraska, killed by a twice-deployed Marine veteran and ardent Trump supporter, Jacob Gardner. In the two months since Floyd was murdered, millions of youth and workers in the US and around the world have participated in multi-racial and multi-ethnic protests demanding justice for victims of state violence. The Trump administration has used the demonstrations as a pretext to assert dictatorial authority and deploy federal agents in cities such as Portland, Seattle, Albuquerque, Milwaukee, Detroit and Chicago. Protests in Portland and Seattle attracted thousands of people Saturday afternoon and into the evening. The protests remained peaceful throughout the day. However, once night fell, those assembled were declared “rioters” by police and forcibly dispersed with tear gas and rubber bullets.

In Portland, where at least 60 people have been arrested on federal charges since Jul 4, Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler imposed an 8 p.m. curfew Saturday night. Wheeler himself was teargassed Wednesday night by the CBP BORTAC paramilitaries when he attempted to address protesters, who roundly booed him. CBP as well as ICE are part of the DHS. The curfew was ignored by several thousand people who rallied outside of the federal courthouse in downtown Portland Saturday evening, chanting “Feds go home!” As the BORTAC paramilitary lobbed CS gas from behind their barricades, “leaf-blower dads” wielding lawn maintenance equipment repelled the gas while a “wall of moms” stood between the protesters and the police. At about 1 am Sunday morning, protesters managed to break through the steel fence surrounding the courthouse, prompting a vicious response from the federal forces, including tear gas and a fusillade of rubber bullets. Dave Killen, a photographer with the Oregonian, was struck in his midsection, ending his coverage of the protest for the evening. The Freedom of the Press Foundation (FOP), which tracks assaults on journalists, released a report on Jul 24 stating:

In Portland over the last eight days, at least 30 journalists have allegedly been attacked by DHS agents.

The attacks included physical assault, pepper spray, tear gas and being hit by a projectile. FOP research concluded there were 19 cases of DHS agents shooting journalists, including two reports of journalists being targeted in the head with “less lethal” ammunition. So far, the FOP has documented 550 incidents of press freedom violations within the last two months. This is nearly quadruple what the FOP reported for all of 2019. FOP notes that a vast majority of the assaults have been committed by local police forces. However, it adds:

Since DHS troops invaded Portland last week, the federal government has been responsible for almost all of the new reports.

In Seattle, Saturday’s protests were declared a “riot” after demonstrators broke through a fence where a youth prison is being expanded and set fire to five portable construction trailers. Elected officials have for years ignored community calls to close the King County Children and Family Justice Center. Seattle police reported arresting at least 25 people in connection with the protests. Trump has deployed DHS tactical squads to Seattle on a “standby” basis.

In Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, two people were sent to the hospital in serious condition Saturday evening after a Jeep drove through a large crowd of demonstrators. Protesters had gathered to march for 23-year-old Elijah McClain, murdered by Aurora police last November. Over 1,000 people were assembled on Interstate 225 demanding “Justice for Elijah,” when a blue Jeep sped through the march, sending hundreds running and screaming. Multiple shots were fired at the Jeep by one of the protesters. The shots ended up striking two other protesters, grazing one and sending the other to the hospital. No charges have been announced against the driver of the Jeep. The mayor of Aurora, Republican Mike Coffman, issued a statement on Facebook Sunday morning declaring that “Aurora cannot become a Portland.” The statement made no mention of the attempted vehicular manslaughter, but instead focused on property damage to the courthouse and branded the protesters “domestic terrorists.” On Saturday evening, over 100 protesters in Omaha, Nebraska, marched in solidarity with Portland protesters and carried signs demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and James Scurlock, all victims of police killings. The protest came to quick end, however, after police arrived and arrested dozens of people. Speaking to NBC’s local station WOWT in Omaha, Jordan Corbin, who was arrested and released on bond Sunday afternoon, said the protests were peaceful until the police showed up. Corbin stated:

They pulled up to the bridge and said we were under arrest for unlawful assembly and blocked us in from both ends.

He and several other protesters were kept in an overcrowded cell for over 14 hours with no knowledge of when they might be released. By Sunday afternoon over 100 protesters had gathered outside Douglas County Corrections in Omaha to demand the release of their comrades. Corrections officials blamed a “technical error” for preventing the protesters from being released, even after bail was posted Sunday evening.

Stop Trump’s coup d’état! Mobilize the working class against authoritarianism and dictatorship!
Statement of the SEP, WSWS, Jul 27 2020

The Trump administration’s unconstitutional deployment of paramilitary forces in cities throughout the country is tantamount to a declaration of war against the people. Blatantly violating the Bill of Rights and threatening to overthrow the Constitution, the conspirators in the White House are attempting to carry out a coup d’état. Violating his oath to “faithfully execute the Office of the POTUS,” Trump is plotting to incarcerate and execute his political opponents. For the last two weeks, federal agents of the (DHS have been deployed on the streets of Portland, Oregon. The White House has mobilized these forces in defiance of objections from the state and city governments, utilizing them to wage an ever more violent campaign of repression, targeting ongoing protests against police violence. Unidentified agents in military gear have seized unarmed protesters and thrown them in unmarked cars to be transferred to unknown locations without probable cause. SWAT teams with assault rifles have charged peaceful protesters, beating them with truncheons and firing tear gas and flash-bang grenades. One protester was targeted and shot in the head with a rubber bullet, fracturing his skull.

Trump’s shock troops have been drawn from the apparatus of repression built up to target immigrant workers and wage war. This includes agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), each of which is led by an “acting” director not confirmed by the Senate and therefore accountable only to the president. Particularly ominous is the central role played by the CBP internal SWAT team known as BORTAC, a brutal and battle-tested organization that has been involved in the major operations of the US military abroad, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last week, Trump declared that other cities will be subjected to federal intervention as well, including New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Oakland and Albuquerque. At a press conference on July 22, Trump denounced what he called a “far-left” and “radical” movement “to defund, dismantle, and dissolve our police departments,” and vilify “our law enforcement heroes.” The pretext for Trump’s mobilization is the protests that have swept the country following the May 25 police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. However, Trump’s actions are driven by more wide-ranging concerns.

Pindostan is a social and political tinderbox. The pandemic has exposed the dysfunctional state of Pindo society and its political institutions. The absolute subordination of all social needs to the capitalist oligarchy’s relentless drive for profits and wealth has created the conditions for the catastrophe that is now unfolding. More than 150k people in Pindostan have died from COVID-19, with more than 1,100 added to this horrific figure every day. On Thursday, Pindostan recorded 4m cases of coronavirus, just 14 days after it surpassed 3m cases. Hospitals are overflowing in Texas, Florida, California, Arizona and other states. But even as the virus spreads and the death toll mounts, the Trump administration is insisting that workers stay on or return to their jobs, and that schools reopen regardless of the consequences for teachers and their students. In order to maximize the economic pressure on workers, the limited social support that was enacted last March under the CARES Act is about be greatly scaled back or ended altogether. Last week, Congress allowed the deadline to pass for an extension of federal unemployment benefits. Even as new unemployment claims rose last week to 1.4m, a federal moratorium on evictions expired, leaving millions at risk of being thrown out of their homes. Within a matter of weeks, millions of working-class families will be threatened with destitution, homelessness and hunger. The Trump administration expects an eruption of social protest and is preparing for massive repression.

At the same time, Pindostan is engaged in a series of provocative threats against China, pushing the world closer to the brink of world war. On Thursday, Pompeo delivered a bellicose tirade against China as Pindo agents broke into the Chinese embassy in Houston after the Trump administration took the unprecedented decision to order it closed. Before Pompeo’s speech, two Pindo aircraft carriers and strike groups were ordered to conduct “high-end” war games with Australian and Japanese ships in the South China Sea. The deployment of federal police is a continuation of Trump’s efforts to establish a presidential dictatorship, announced eight weeks ago in his Jun 1 national address at the Rose Garden. As military police launched a violent attack on peaceful protesters outside the White House, Trump declared himself the president of “law and order,” threatening to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to brand those protesting police violence as “domestic terrorists.”

Trump’s initial coup attempt encountered resistance from within the military, including from Trump’s former Sec Def ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, because it believed that such a drastic action was not adequately prepared. But it would be dangerously naïve to believe that the military will defend democracy. The latest actions of the White House have no doubt been taken after consultation with generals who have told Trump that he has other forces at his command, and that he should use them before calling on the military itself. But the paramilitary forces of BORTAC and ICE will be augmented by others. The old adage, “It can’t happen here,” that there could never be a dictatorship in Pindostan, is being refuted. Not only can it happen, it is happening. In a column published Friday, The NYT’s Roger Cohen compared developments in Pindostan to the situation in Germany prior to the Nazi conquest of power. In his Jul 24 column, “Pindo Catastrophe Through German Eyes,” Cohen cites the comment of Michael Steinberg, a professor of history at Brown University and the former president of the Pindo Academy in Berlin:

The Pindo catastrophe seems to get worse every day, but the events in Portland have particularly alarmed me as a kind of strategic experiment for fascism. The playbook from the German fall of democracy in 1933 seems well in place, including rogue military factions, the destabilization of cities, etc.

Unlike Hitler, however, Trump does not have a mass fascist movement at his disposal. While attempting to whip up far-right forces, his primary instrument is the apparatus of the state, in a manner akin to the dictatorship of General Abd’el-Fatteh al-Sisi in Egypt or the Latin American military dictatorships. Cohen himself draws direct parallels to the experience in Argentina, which was ruled by a bloody military dictatorship in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He writes:

Perhaps the years I spent covering Argentina in the 1980s, in the aftermath of the military junta, made me particularly sensitive to the use of unmarked cars, in the Argentine case, Ford Falcons, to grab left-wing political opponents off the street. They were “disappeared,” a word whose lingering psychological devastation I measured in countless tear-filled rooms.

The response of the Demagog Party is a combination of cowardice and fecklessness. Demagog Party mayors have alternated between feeble challenges in the courts and calls for the paramilitary forces to be utilized against “crime” and not against protesters. In the only major case challenging the authority of federal police to seize protesters, a judge in Portland ruled on Friday that the arrests could continue. In the aftermath of Trump’s Jun 1 speech, the Demagogs ceded all opposition to Trump to the generals, upholding them as the arbiters of political power. The Demagogs’ presidential nominee, Biden, has said that his “greatest nightmare” is that Trump will refuse to leave office after November, but his response to such a scenario is the hope that the military will intervene to force him out. Earlier this year, the Demagogs concluded their impeachment fiasco that was based on their own right-wing anti-Russia campaign. As Trump blatantly violates the Constitution and prepares a presidential dictatorship, there has been no suggestion of a new impeachment trial, let alone calls for mass demonstrations to force Trump out.

The White House is now the cockpit of a political conspiracy to establish a presidential dictatorship. This situation has been prepared over a protracted period. It is now two decades since the theft of the 2000 presidential elections, when the Supreme Court intervened to stop the counting of ballots in Florida and handed the election to Bush, which the Demagogs did not resist. Less than one year later, the 9/11 attacks were utilized by the ruling class to declare a “war on terror” as the pretext for unending war and a massive escalation of police state measures. The Department of Homeland Security, under whose authority ICE and the CBP operate, was established with bipartisan support in Nov 2002. This was part of a raft of actions including the PATRIOT Act, the creation of NORTHCOM, the construction of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, CIA torture, NSA spying. These powers were expanded under the Obama administration, which proclaimed the right of the president to assassinate Pindo citizens without due process, spearheaded the persecution of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, and created the legal framework for the network of concentration camps to detain immigrants fleeing to Pindostan.

Trump personifies the criminality of the corporate elite. But the breakdown of democracy and danger of dictatorship are not the products of his sociopathic personality. As with everything else, the pandemic has accelerated and intensified this underlying tendency toward dictatorship. While the billionaires have utilized the crisis to massively enrich themselves, the broad mass of the population faces an absolutely desperate situation. The determination of this oligarchy to enforce its interests, at the cost of countless thousands of lives, is not compatible with democracy. Political forms are coming into alignment with social reality. For all his ruthlessness, Trump’s actions are those of a desperate and frightened man. He knows that he and his administration are hated. His repeated threat to remain in office regardless of the results of an election is an admission that his administration lacks popular support and can remain in power only through violence.

Workers must be on guard against attacks and provocations. In all workplaces and working-class neighborhoods, the actions of paramilitary forces must be closely monitored. But, above all, workers and young people must understand that the defense of democratic rights is, in essence, a fight against the capitalist system and its state. The methods that must be employed in this fight are the methods of class struggle. The conspiracies of the Trump administration and the ruling elites must be countered through the development of a strategy to transfer political power to the working class and establish socialism. Workers must resist all efforts to channel their anger behind either of the capitalist parties. They must ruthlessly oppose all efforts to break up their unity, either through the promotion of war or through the politics of racial-communal division. The claim promoted by the Demagog Party that the fundamental conflict is between “white Pindostan” and “black Pindostan” is false and reactionary. No, the conflict is between the working class and the corporate-financial oligarchy.

Events speak for themselves and conclusions must be drawn. Rather than wait and see what Trump will do next, the working class must act. Whether the struggle of the working class against capitalism will proceed more rapidly than the implementation of military-police dictatorship will not be determined in the abstract. It will be determined through struggle. The SEP makes an urgent appeal to all readers of the WSWS: Now is the time to get off the sidelines! Now is the time to take a stand! Join the SEP and its sister parties in the IC4I.

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