the threat of war: people get ready

Is Trump preparing an “October Surprise”?
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Sep 28 2020

Four F/A-18 Hornets and two F-22 Raptors in a training exercise

With the US presidential election barely five weeks away, Washington is stoking dangerous conflicts across the globe. With the danger that any one of them could escalate into a military confrontation, the question that is increasingly being discussed in US foreign policy circles and by worried governments around the world is whether Trump is preparing an “October Surprise.” There is a long history of events taking place in October, either planned or unplanned, which have major effects on an upcoming presidential election. In 1956, the eruption of the Sinai War and the Hungarian Revolution helped solidify support behind Eisenhower. In 1968, the Johnson government’s announcement that it would suspend the bombing of North Vietnam almost swung the election to Democrat Hubert Humphrey. In 1972, Henry Kissinger infamously declared that “Peace Is at Hand” in Vietnam, giving Nixon a boost in the polls over George McGovern. But the phrase “October Surprise” was coined by William Casey, Reagan’s campaign manager in 1980 and subsequent CIA director. In the case of Reagan and Casey, the “surprise” in question was the prospect that Iran would release US personnel taken hostage in the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy by Iranian students. According to both US and Iranian officials, Casey and the Reagan campaign conducted secret negotiations with Teheran to prevent the hostages’ release until after the election. Today, the threat is that the “October Surprise” will come in the form of an eruption of American militarism. WaPo columnist David Ignatius wrote in a column last week warning:

Iraq is the place where a US-Iran confrontation could explode in the next few weeks, creating an ‘October surprise’ before the US presidential election.

It is doubtful that Ignatius, who has close connections with the US military-intelligence apparatus, is using this phrase loosely. He was referring to an ultimatum delivered by Pompeo to Iraq’s new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi that Washington will close its Baghdad embassy unless the regime cracks down on Iraqi Shi’a militias aligned with Iran that have lobbed rockets in the general vicinity of the US facility. Such a crackdown would likely trigger the government’s downfall. Ignatius pointed out:

The embassy’s closure could also be a prelude to heavy US airstrikes against the militias.

Such military action could quickly escalate into a confrontation with Iran, which is already escalating on other fronts. A US Navy carrier strike group has been sent through the strategic Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf for the first time since last November. The deployment comes as the Trump administration has arrogantly claimed the right to unilaterally reimpose UN sanctions that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear agreement between Teheran and the major powers, a deal that Washington unilaterally abrogated. Chief among the sanctions that the US is now claiming is the right to enforce a ban on the export of conventional weapons to Iran that is set to expire in the middle of next month. Both Russia and China are prepared to resume such exports. The US vow to continue enforcing the ban raises the prospect of American warships seizing Russian or Chinese vessels in the Persian Gulf or on the high seas.

The threat of direct conflict between US imperialism and its two major nuclear rivals continues to escalate across a wide field of military operations. The Pentagon is staging nearly continuous provocative military exercises on Russia’s borders. Last week, it brought along chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, who flew in an Air Force F16 as US warplanes simulated large-scale “dogfights” on the border with Russia. As an “embedded” reporter, Engel cast the aerial provocation in heroic terms. This operation follows by only weeks, live fire exercises in Estonia involving what the US Army described as “multiple launch rocket systems” in shooting range of Russia. Moscow’s embassy in Washington described the action as “provocative and extremely dangerous for regional stability.” It asked:

How would the Americans react in the event of such shooting by our military at the US border?

Meanwhile, Washington is staging relentless provocations against China, particularly over the island of Taiwan, where a pair of visits by high-level US officials over the past two months, combined with multi-billion-dollar arms sales, have been directed at strengthening US-Taiwanese relations and effectively overturning the “One China” policy that has been central to US-China relations for more than 40 years. In what Beijing has justifiably interpreted as a gross provocation and unconcealed threat, Military Review, the US Army’s principal publication, dedicated its entire September-October issue to the prospect of a US war with China over Taiwan, based on the premise of Beijing’s military takeover of the island. One article in the Army journal is titled “Drive Them into the Sea” and advocates “dispatching an Army heavy corps to Taiwan” that “will drive the enemy into the sea.” Another, written by a US Marine Corps officer, titled “Deterring the Dragon: Returning US Forces to Taiwan,” expresses concern over the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) military advances, particularly in terms of intermediate range missiles, and calls for deploying American troops to Taiwan. It concludes:

America needs to posture its forces in a way that would inevitably trigger a larger conflict and make plain its commitment to Taiwanese defense. It would be extremely unlikely that the US government would not commit to a larger conflict after US ground forces were engaged in Taiwan.

The triggering of a direct military conflict in any one of these arenas could provide Trump with his “October surprise” at the potential cost of a massive loss of life and a spiraling conflict leading to world war. The aim would not be so much to sway voters, as Trump is not pursuing a strategy based on the popular vote which he failed to win in the 2016 election, but rather on creating the conditions for a coup d’état aimed at consolidating a presidential dictatorship and violently suppressing all opposition. War could serve as the pretext for making good on his threats to invoke the Insurrection Act and imposing martial law. Trump’s ostensible political opposition, the Democratic Party and its presidential candidate Joe Biden, have only helped to create the conditions for such a military provocation and its far-reaching political consequences. They have repeatedly denounced Trump for being too “soft” on Russia and China, including in the wake of a recent crash between US and Russian armored cars in Syria, in which they demanded retaliation for the minor injuries suffered by American soldiers. Given this reality, in the event of a US military engagement against Russia or China, the Democrats would throw their support behind Trump’s war effort.

Underlying the threat of war is the insoluble crisis of the capitalist system and the turn by US imperialism toward military aggression as a means of offsetting the decline of its global hegemony. This has only been intensified by the uncontrolled spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, mass unemployment, poverty and growing social unrest. America’s ruling oligarchy seeks to divert these intense and insoluble domestic tensions outward in the form of an eruption of militarism. The struggle against war, along with the fight against the devastation of jobs, living standards and the very lives of workers, as Republicans and Democrats alike pursue the homicidal back-to-work and back-to-school agenda, cannot be waged within the framework of the Trump-Biden electoral contest. Regardless of the outcome of the 2020 election, the drive toward war and dictatorship will continue. The threat of war and all of the life-and-death questions confronting the vast majority of the American people can be confronted only by means of the independent political mobilization of the working class in the fight for socialism. This poses the need for the formation of rank-and-file workplace and neighborhood committees to organize this struggle and the fight for a political general strike to halt Trump’s dictatorial conspiracies and topple his government.

US hits leading Chinese chip-maker
Nick Beams, WSWS, Sep 28 Sep 2020

In a major escalation of its economic war against China, the US, at the direction of the Pentagon, has imposed a crippling ban on the country’s leading chip-maker, following earlier decisions to cut off the telecom giant Huawei from its US chip suppliers. The Commerce Dept issued a letter to companies on Friday declaring that exports to Semiconductor Manufacturing International Company (SMIC) posed an “unacceptable risk” of being diverted to “military end use” and licences had to obtained before exporting technology to the company. The decision by the Commerce Dept emanates from the Pentagon which earlier this month said it was working with other agencies to ascertain whether the company should be blacklisted because of alleged links with the Chinese military. The Commerce Dept did not completely blacklist SMIC but the decision to require export licences is a significant step in that direction. A statement issued by the department said:

In general, the Bureau of Industry and Security in the Department of Commerce is constantly monitoring and assessing any potential threats to US national security and foreign policy interests. While we cannot comment on any specific matter, BIS, with its inter-agency partners, will take appropriate action as warranted.

When the Pentagon’s move first became known, SMIC said it was in “complete shock” over the news and was open to communication with US government agencies to resolve any misunderstanding. That proved to be of no avail. Responding to Friday’s decision, it said:

SMIC reiterates that it manufactures semiconductors and provides services solely for civilian and commercial end-users and end-uses. The company has no relationship with the Chinese military and does not manufacture for military end-users and end-uses.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the US of “blatant bullying,” but did not indicate whether China would take any retaliatory action. He said:

What it has done has violated international trade rules, undermined global industrial supply and value chains, and will inevitably hurt US national interests and its own image.

Trump launched a trade war against China in 2018, leading to the imposition of tariffs on around three quarters of all Chinese exports to the US. This was couched in terms of reducing the trade imbalances between the two countries, with Trump claiming China was ripping the US off to the tune of $500b/yr. But the underlying objective was always to prevent China from developing high-tech industries that the US regards as an existential threat to its economic and military dominance. In the two and a half years since economic warfare was launched, this objective has emerged ever more clearly into the open. At present there are more than 275 China-based firms on the US so-called entity list, meaning they are effectively banned. The decision on SMIC, which is China’s biggest chip-maker, means supplies of US components will be choked off, crippling its further development. Roughly 50% of its equipment comes from American sources. Reflecting the complex international division of labour characteristic of high-tech industry, the company also supplies the US firms Qualcomm and Broadcom. Explaining the significance of the latest US move, Paul Triolo, head of tech policy analysis at the Eurasia Group, told the Financial Times:

It all depends on how the US implements this. In the worst-case scenario, SMIC is completely cut off, which would severely set back China’s ability to produce chips. This would be a tipping point for US-China relations.

Nicholas Klein, a Washington lawyer specialising in international trade, told Reuters:

There’s been a lot of coverage on the Trump administration’s action regarding TikTok, but the more significant action is the increasing restrictions on SMIC and other Chinese national champions like Huawei.

China lags well behind the US in the development of chip technology and SMIC is regarded as one of the companies, a so-called “national champion,” that could start to close the gap. The US moves are aimed at ensuring this does not happen. Established in 2000, SMIC is now China’s largest chip maker and in July raised $6.8b in its initial public offering (IPO), more than double its target and the largest IPO in China for 10 years. The company recently announced a joint-foundry venture with the government for the making of chips, and increased its capital expenditure budget for 2020 to $6.9b from $4.3b. The fact that the escalating measures against China are being dictated by the Pentagon and the military-intelligence establishment, rather than the Commerce Dept or the office of the US Trade Representative means they are likely to intensify under a Biden administration. The most significant difference between the Democrats and Republicans is the Democrats’ assertion that Trump has used tariffs in a way that alienates US allies and weakens a common push against China. As the WSJ commented in the article published at the weekend:

The former vice-president and Democratic challenger says he will woo allies battered by Trump trade sanctions, rethink the use of tariffs and try to create a united front against China.

Speaking to the WSJ, Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan said:

It’s better to be pulling together a range of like-minded economies. That’s how you get real leverage.

That leverage goes far beyond trade because, as the article noted:

The trade war has morphed into a technology war and has now reached deeply into areas of national security.

Amid escalating military operations by the US directed against China, the present situation recalls that which developed in the lead-up to the outbreak of war between the US and Japan in 1941. In the late 1930s, the US imposed a series of sanctions against Japan over the supply of oil that led to the Japanese push into South East Asia, starting with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Today the US is seeking to cut China off from the contemporary life-blood of the global economy, the development of computer chips and other major technologies, on the basis that this constitutes a threat to its “national security.”

US political warfare escalates with NYT release of Trump tax returns
Patrick Martin, WSWS, Sep 28 2020

Trump talks to the cops the press.
(Photo: Joyce N Boghosian)

In a further escalation of the political warfare within the US ruling elite, the NYT, the leading newspaper backing the Democratic Party, has begun publishing an extensive report on President Trump’s personal finances, based on the leak of 20 years of Trump’s income tax returns. Trump has refused to release his tax returns, as all US presidential candidates and presidents have done for the past 50 years, and he has waged a bitter legal struggle against the House of Representatives and New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr over subpoenas for his tax returns in connection with legislative and criminal investigations. Only three days before, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments by representatives of Trump and Vance over Trump’s effort to quash Vance’s subpoena of Trump’s financial records from his accountants, Mazar’s. In response to questioning by one judge, a Trump attorney admitted that any request for Trump’s financial records would be “overbroad” in his opinion. The representative of Vance’s office argued that the recipient of a subpoena could not go to court “and demand to be told what an investigation is all about.”

The NYT report, however, could make moot much of the barrage of litigation mounted by Trump over the past four years, since its main purpose was to suppress the disclosure of politically unflattering financial information about the president. While Trump lamely denounced the NYT for publishing “fake news,” and the chief legal counsel for the Trump Organization claimed there were gross factual errors in the first article posted on the NYT website Sunday evening, there seems little doubt that the newspaper’s account is substantially true. It conforms to prior leaks of individual pages of a handful of Trump tax returns, as well as to the more general picture of his business affairs given in various media accounts and several of Trump’s own ghost-written “business” memoirs. According to the NYT account, the team of writers who produced the initial 10k-word article, the first in a promised series, had nearly all of Trump’s personal and business tax returns for the past two decades, with the exception of his personal tax returns from 2018 and 2019. The documents were supplied by people who were legally authorized to possess them, the newspaper said, a category that would include employees of the IRS, the Trump Organization, or Trump’s various accountants and legal representatives. The NYT will not publish the actual returns in graphical form, it said, to protect its sources.

The main revelation in the initial article is the sheer scale of the financial manipulation made possible by the possession of great wealth and a tax code that virtually encourages the wealthy to pay as little as possible. Despite a cash flow in the tens of millions or hundreds of millions yearly, Trump paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the 15 years before he ran for president. He paid only $750 in income taxes for 2016 and 2017, as his accountants carried out various stratagems so that Trump could say he was paying taxes, even though the amount was derisory. On two separate occasions, in the early 1990s and in 2009, Trump has filed returns claiming massive business losses: nearly $1b in the first instance, when his casino empire in Atlantic City collapsed; and $700m in 2009, when he took advantage of a favorable change in tax laws incorporated into the Obama administration’s bailout of Wall Street. He has now accumulated another $421m in paper losses, in part as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the NYT reports he could use to offset income beginning next year. Through various accounting gimmicks, Trump claimed and was paid a $72.9m tax refund by the IRS in 2010, which amounted to the repayment of all his income taxes from what was his highest income period, 2005-2008, the heyday of his reality television program on NBC, “The Apprentice.” From 2011 on, this gargantuan refund has been the subject of the IRS audit about which Trump rails incessantly whenever asked to divulge his tax returns. One passage in the article suggests plausibly that Trump’s decision to make a bid for the Republican presidential nomination was connected to these financial strains, and an effort to revive the “marketability” of the Trump name as his long-running television program was fading. The NYT writes:

The picture that perhaps emerges most starkly from the mountain of figures and tax schedules prepared by Mr Trump’s accountants is of a businessman-president in a tightening financial vise. Most of Mr Trump’s core enterprises, from his constellation of golf courses to his conservative-magnet hotel in Washington, report losing millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars year after year.

His revenue from “The Apprentice” and from licensing deals is drying up, and several years ago he sold nearly all the stocks that now might have helped him plug holes in his struggling properties. The methods of self-enrichment were endless. Trump claimed business expenses and charitable tax deductions for his Seven Springs estate north of NYC, although the Trump family used it as a summer estate and residence, not a business investment. And Trump’s children, particularly Ivanka, collected six and seven-figure “advisory” fees as “consultants” on various business deals, even though they were themselves executives employed by the Trump Organization (also at six and seven-figure salaries).

The NYT series has a self-evident political purpose, demonstrated above all in its timing. Trump’s tax returns were not dropped through the newspaper’s mail slot last week. The newspaper has been in possession of them for many months, if not longer, in order to analyze them in the detail provided in the first article. The series began appearing only 38 days before the presidential election, and only one day before the first presidential debate. At least in one respect, the initial exposure seems to have hit its target. Trump gave a press briefing on his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court about an hour after the report first appeared on the NYT website. He was even more disjointed and hysterical in his comments than usual, denouncing criticism of Barrett as attacks on the Catholic religion, declaring that the Democratic Party “has been taken over by socialists, extremists, and probably communists,” and demanding that Biden take a drug test before the debate Tuesday night. Asked directly about the tax returns, Trump denounced the NYT report as “fake news.” He claimed repeatedly “I pay a lot” of taxes, while not actually denying that he paid zero income taxes in 10 of the 15 years before his election.

Trump’s Operation Legend prepares local police forces to suppress opposition
Alex Findijs, WSWS, Sep 28 2020

Shelby County Kentucky Sheriff’s with electronic “Tazer” shields.
(Video at: Facebook/Hunter Demster)

As Trump lays the grounds for a coup d’état in the event he loses the November 3 presidential election, the United States Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Operation Legend approaches its third month of activity in cities across the country. The operation—named after LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old boy killed in June by a stray bullet in Kansas City, Missouri—has seen the deployment of hundreds of federal agents and millions of dollars in funding to local police departments to aid in the suppression of protests against police violence. The operation has been presented by the Trump administration as a means of helping beleaguered police departments crack down on a rise in violent crime. However, this is only a cover for the funneling of more federal money and personnel primarily into the local police departments of nine major cities across the country: Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Albuquerque, Memphis and Kansas City.

The influx of funds for expanding police departments and their equipment has been considerable. In Cleveland, the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance provided $1m to Operation Legend activities and the Community-Oriented Policing Service Office made $10m available to the Cleveland Police Department to fund the hiring of 30 officers, five Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers, and four Adult Parole Authority officers. The Detroit Police Department was provided $2.4m for the hiring of 15 officers and issued $1.4m for the operation. The police departments of Milwaukee, Wauwatosa and Cudahy, Wisconsin, were provided $10.2m to hire 29 new officers and $1.9m to support Operation Legend. The money that is being provided far outstrips the expected costs of these hirings alone. The rest of the money that is being provided to cities is intended for a vast expansion of the repressive tools of the state, including upgrading crowd control equipment and the development of surveillance operations. In Memphis, Tennessee a video has surfaced this week of sheriff’s deputies wielding taser riot shields, reportedly purchased through funding from Operation Legend.

The cities of Memphis and Detroit have also expanded their surveillance capabilities since the launch of Operation Legend. According to a report from the Intercept, Memphis signed a contract with the Israeli company Cellebrite, which is famous for its technology that can hack and extract data from smart phones. This purchase was made on Aug 2, just two days before federal agents arrived in the city. Two weeks later, Detroit also purchased a plan from Cellebrite for its “premium” software package at a cost of $100k. In Chicago, where over 100 federal agents have been deployed through the operation, it was announced on August 14 that the city was implementing a new “around the clock” monitoring program using social media to identify looters. Additionally, Memphis, Cleveland, Albuquerque, Milwaukee and Detroit will receive money from Operation Legend to implement gunshot detection technology. The surveillance system, pioneered by company ShotSpotter, uses microphones placed in neighborhoods to detect the sound and location of gun shots. The possibility that this technology could be expanded to track protesters and monitor workers is not out of the question.

Operation Legend is a significant component of Trump’s scheming, but it is only part of a broader move to militarize and federalize the police launched in Dec 2019 under Operation Relentless Pursuit, which was announced by Attorney General William Barr with the stated goal of combating crime in America’s most violent cities. More accurately, it was intended to lay the groundwork for advanced police repression and greater federal police presence on the ground. Many of the same cities that have been targeted under Operation Legend were also the focus of ORP. A considerable $71m was allocated to be distributed in grants to cities for the purpose of purchasing new equipment and technology as well as increasing the size of local police forces and financing “federally deputized task force officers.” In addition to these grants, Trump stated during a meeting with International Association of Chiefs of Police in 2019 that he had made $600m worth of surplus military equipment available for local law enforcement agencies. A critical aspect of both of these operations has been their deployment to Democratic-led cities that approved the allocation of federal agents and funds under Trump’s plan. This is a significant exposure of the Democratic Party and its false claims of opposition to Trump.

In fact, the Democrats have welcomed the deployment of federal police agents with open arms. Many of these programs, particularly the distribution of military equipment to local law enforcement, were enabled by the Obama administration which also provided military-style equipment to local police forces and aided local police departments in suppressing protests against police violence. All opposition to Trump and his authoritarian maneuvers is being channeled behind the presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden, a similarly reactionary character who splits from Trump on tactics alone, particularly when it comes to foreign policy regarding Russia and China. Towards this end the Democrats are working to prevent the mass mobilization of the working class against Trump out of fear that it will challenge the interests of the financial oligarchy. Operation Legend, and the complicity of the Democrats in enabling it, is a dire warning of the political repression that is being prepared by both parties in the lead up to and aftermath of the election. Only the political mobilization of the working class in the fight for socialism can defeat Trump’s plotting and the descent of the US in the direction of fascism.

Police respond to demonstrations across the US with vicious assaults on protesters and journalists
Jacob Crosse, WSWS, Sep 28 2020

A protester is arrested near the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
(Photo: John Minchillo/AP)

Protests fueled by the state cover-up of the police murder of 26-year-old emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor continued throughout the weekend in multiple US cities and towns, despite far-right assaults and provocations, abetted by thuggish police departments. Protests in Portland, Oregon and Louisville, Kentucky have been continuing for more than 120 days, while in cities such Albuquerque, Los Angeles and New York City, local instances of police brutality coupled with the decision by Republican Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron not to bring charges against either of the Louisville police officers responsible for Taylor’s murder have reignited protests. Demonstrations were held in Louisville throughout the weekend. Similar to Thursday and Friday nights’ protests, on Saturday a multi-racial group of youth and workers again fled to a nearby church to escape riot police once an “unlawful assembly” was declared prior to the 9 pm curfew. As with the previous nights, heavily armed militia members with the Oath Keepers were allowed to remain out past curfew. As of this writing, at least 28 protesters have been arrested in Louisville.

There is no sign that the protests in the city are subsiding, especially given the many questions still surrounding special prosecutor Cameron’s decision not to bring charges against Louisville Metro Police Department cops, Myles Cosgrove and Jon Mattingly, who combined fired 32 shots into Taylor’s apartment, killing her. On Sunday, the Kentucky State Police (KSP) released a ballistic report that does not support Cameron’s assertion that Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, actually shot Mattingly, who was struck in the thigh with a 9mm round. In Cameron’s press conference last Wednesday, he said that Brett Hankison could not have shot Mattingly because the three cops all carried .40 caliber handguns. Steven Romines, an attorney for Walker, revealed on CNN that he had acquired an LMPD record that showed Hankison had been issued a 9 mm pistol as well. The KSP report notes that “due to limited markings of comparative value” they were unable to identify nor eliminate the possibility that it was fired from Walker’s weapon.

Since nationwide protests began following the May 25 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Trump has consistently vilified the overwhelming peaceful protests, populated with workers and youth of every race and ethnicity as “riots” directed by “antifa,” “anarchists,” and “radical leftists.” Trump has sought to tie the protests, as well as calls by certain layers within the protests to “defund the police” to the Democratic Party and their nominee Joe Biden, who has in fact pledged to increase federal funding for police budgets should he come to power. This has not deterred Trump; who again, during a Sunday evening press conference stated that the Democratic Party had been taken over by “socialists” and “communists.” Within the last week, Attorney General William Barr and the DoJ released a statement identifying the cities of New York, Portland and Seattle as “Jurisdictions Permitting Violence And Destruction Of Property,” threatening to revoke federal funding. In a statement released by the DOJ, each of the three cities was cited specifically for refusing to accept the intervention of federal troops to quell protests.

Trump first threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act and send federal troops into Democratic-controlled cities and states during his fascistic Jun 1 Rose Garden speech outside the White House. Since then, Democratic governors have responded by calling up thousands of National Guard troops and state police to crush the demonstrations, beginning with Minnesota governor Tim Waltz, who in June activated over 10k National Guard soldiers to terrorize and assist police in subduing protests. This was repeated in August when Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers responded to protests in Kenosha, following the shooting of Jacob Blake in the back seven times, with the deployment of over 1k National Guard troops. In addition to soldiers from Wisconsin, Evers requested hundreds of National Guard infantry from neighboring states and flooded the county with hundreds of militarized police.

It is under these conditions that the Proud Boys, a self-described “Western chauvinist” fascist group, held a rally on Saturday at Delta Park in North Portland. The rally drew less than 800 people, well below organizers’ previous estimates of 10k expected attendees. Approximately three miles away at Peninsula Park, a counter-rally was held attracting over 1k people. The two groups remained separated by police throughout the day. Ahead of the rally, Democratic governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, issued a State of Emergency, mobilizing hundreds of Oregon state police who remained in the city well after the rally ended, which only lasted 90 minutes. Despite video evidence of heavily armed Proud Boy members assaulting journalists and bystanders, the event was allowed to proceed without any interference from the police, who reportedly only arrested two Proud Boys on weapons charges, while a third was cited for failing to display a rear license plate. At the park, the Proud Boys were protected on all sides by the police. Prior to the event, members of the group shared “memes” that included an “antifa hunting permit.” At the park various vendors sold shirts and stickers that proclaimed, “Kyle did nothing wrong,” a reference to 17-year-old militia member Kyle Rittenhouse, who remains jailed in Illinois for his role in killing two protesters and gravely injuring a third during demonstration in Kenosha at the end of August. A delay in his extradition hearing was granted by the judge last week, postponing it until Oct 9. Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy, was warmly received with a standing ovation during a Waukesha County Republican event on Sep 24.

In Portland, as night fell Saturday, protesters assembled outside the Federal Courthouse, where they were met with hundreds of riot police. After a protester burned a US flag, a constitutionally protected right, police declared an “unlawful assembly” and began to assault and arrest anyone they could. Over a dozen were arrested while several journalists were beaten and shoved to ground by riot police, including 73-year-old John Rudoff. In Orange County, California, at least two pro-Trump supporters were injured after a vehicle was driven through a crowd. The pro-Trump, pro-police “back the blue” demonstration turned violent when the Trump group crossed the six-lane Imperial Highway to assault counter-protesters. As the groups converged, police declared an unlawful assembly and ordered everyone to disperse.

Unlike recent incidents in which anti-racist protesters were injured in two separate vehicle assaults, which sent one person to the hospital, the police in Orange County quickly detained and charged 40-year-old Tatian Turner with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon. Turner is currently being held on a $1m bond. Conversely, it took nearly 24 hours for Albuquerque police to release a statement that they would begin investigating an attempted hit-and-run that occurred during a Friday night protest. In a brief statement, Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina, said the department would be following “solid leads” but chastised protesters for not coordinating with the department and warned against blocking “roads with their own vehicles.” In Mansfield, Massachusetts, roughly 40 miles south of Boston, members of the neo-Nazi group NSC-131 joined Trump supporters in another “back the blue” rally. The neo-Nazis mingled with the rest of the Trump supporters while counter-protesters remained on the other side of the street. Local press neglected to report the presence of Nazis at the event who were giving “Heil Hitler” salutes to passing motorists.

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