By Luis Meiners
On Sunday August 23, almost three months after the murder of George Floyd, the police shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He is a 29 year old Black man that was returning to his car where his 3 young children were waiting. Video footage shows the police officer firing several shots at very close range. He is now in the hospital in critical condition, and members of his family have said that he will probably never be able to walk again.
In the midst of a historical rebellion against systemic racism and police brutality, protesters took to the streets of Kenosha and were met with hard repression by the police and the National Guard. Several reports also alerted about the presence of armed right wing militias patrolling the streets after the curfew. On Tuesday, close to midnight, after protesters were met with tear gas and rubber bullets close to the city’s courthouse, a member of a right wing militia opened fire on them, killing two protesters and injuring a third one.
Media reports and video footage give testimony that the shooter, a young white man later identified as Kyle Rittenhouse, walked past the police line undisturbed. He was carrying a rifle and bystanders shouted that he had just shot people. In another video, militia members are thanked for their presence by officers from a vehicle and are also given water. On Wednesday morning the shooter was charged with first degree intentional homicide, but the contrast between the police treatment of armed right wing militias and protesters could not be sharper.
Dismantle the police, fight against the far right
The brutal shooting of Jacob Blake and, in contrast, the fraternal treatment of right wing extremists is more than enough proof of the need to dismantle the racist police. It is in the nature of the institution as the armed hand of the bourgeois state to take sides against the oppressed. It exists to protect the interests of capital and enforce the inequalities that capitalism produces.
It is not the first time that far right militias, organizations or individuals attack protesters. There have been several examples of this over the past months. It is not only the police that gives them cover. After a white supremacists drove his car into a crowd that was protesting against the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017, killing Heather Heyer, Trump said there was “blame on both sides”. This Monday, the Republican National Convention featured as speakers Mike and Patricia McCloskey, a couple who became famous for waving their guns at a Black Lives Matters protest in St.Louis.
Progressives and some sectors of the left are calling to vote for Biden as the lesser-evil in the face of this reality. They call for a vote for the same party that holds the mayor’s office of Kenosha and the state government of Wisconsin. Lesser-evil voting will never stop the right, it will only lead to further frustrations and demoralizations that become the breeding grounds for right wing extremism. Mass mobilization is necessary to stop the fascists. And to get justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Jacob Blake and all the victims of racist police brutality and white supremacists vigilantes. The left needs to help build independent organizational structures, and an independent socialist party to organize this perspective.