[WSMDiscuss] The US is aflame, the people of the US remain afire… : Democrats kneel at US Capitol, unveil sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures (Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press)

Matt Meyer resistanceinbrooklyn.ows at gmail.com
Wed Jun 10 12:36:41 CEST 2020

Dear comrades,

There is almost too much going on too quickly in the US to catch it in
quick written or broadcast news reports. In fact, given the widespread
street actions, defiance of curfews, involvement of multi-generational,
youth-led, multi-racial groupings moving well beyond the "looting and
anger" reaction into more sustained and strategic demonstrations, the
kneeling in Congress on the part of members of the Democratic Party, like
the wearing of Kente scarfs, is a quickie attempt to catch up to something
running far, far away from them. There is simply no positioning the
prospective Democratic presidential aspirant in a way that suggests he has
any interest in Black, Brown or Indigenous folks, police accountability,
the reigning in of militarized responses to conflict, or an economic policy
anywhere close to people-centered. So kneeling and wearing cool clothing is
all they've got.

That said, while it is clear that what is going on in the US at the
grassroots level is unprecedented at least in terms of mobilization and
movement-building capabilities since at least 1968, there is absolutely no
guarantee that it will evolve into an actual, sustainable movement, mass or
otherwise, over the short or long term. The US left, like many throughout
the world but even worse so in many respects, has been ravaged by decades
of repression, sectarianism, an over-reliance on and over eschewing of
"leadership," and many other issues.

As some on this list are already well aware of and involved with, however,
I'll continue to assert that one new coalition networking group, Black led
and fully grassroots based, is giving me (as both a movement historian and
an organizer) more reason for hope about the US than in many a year.
#PeoplesStrike has been working to connect peoples, organizations and
struggles since late March, with more strategic analysis and some successes
already noted than is usual for these parts. One new example which actually
DID get a little news coverage:

Yesterday (Tuesday 10 June 2020, at the time of George Floyd's funeral), a
number of Trade Unions had a work stoppage, for different amounts of time
and with different demands in different places, but all for at least the 8+
minutes which saw to the end of Floyd's life. The act of some trade unions
alone is not imho really the important factor for us. For those looking for
trends on this WSMDiscuss list serve, the key piece is the actions of those
unions in tandem with the #PeoplesStrike and related #GeneralStrike2020,
Coronavirus mutual aid, and other efforts. It is this kind of building and
rebuilding which, if continued and increased, could see some positive
changes out of this current crisis.

Read more here:

On Tue, Jun 9, 2020, 7:47 PM Jai Sen <jai.sen at cacim.net> wrote:

> Tuesday, June 9, 2020
> *Viruses in movement…, Resistance in movement…, The US in movement… ?*
> [The US is aflame, the people of the US remain afire… and in the midst of
> this, this striking news, which has come out in a mainstream paper here in
> Canada today but where other than this Associated Press report, I’ve not
> seen much commentary on it as yet.  Even if what the Democrats are
> proposing is not as full blooded as the movement is demanding, it still
> seems extraordinary to see such demands moving from the municipal to the
> national level within just one week.  What should we make of this ?  Any
> comments, from people better placed to judge ?
> [What is also striking though, is seeing the country’s parliamentarians
> taking a kneel… and for the full 8 minutes and 46 seconds, and also to see
> this becoming a widespread political gesture, both in the US and beyond;
> such as the British soccer team Liverpool also doing this, a week ago (see
> below, from a separate news item).  I’m not sure what to think, but I can
> barely imagine this happening in any other legislature in the world, let
> alone in the very heart of empire.  What does this signify ?  Just rank
> populism, in competition with the other populists, in the run-up that has
> already started for the 2020 presidential elections ?  Or does it signify
> something else ? :
> *Democrats kneel at US Capitol, unveil sweeping overhaul of police
> oversight and procedures*
> Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
> https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/us-politics/article-democrats-proposing-a-sweeping-overhaul-of-police-oversight-and/
> Congressional Democrats kneel during a moment of silence to honor George
> Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others inside Emancipation Hall,
> at the US Capitol, in Washington, on June 8, 2020.  (JONATHAN ERNST/Reuters)
> Democrats proposed a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures
> Monday, an ambitious legislative response to the mass protests denouncing
> the deaths of black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.
> Before unveiling the package, House and Senate Democrats held a moment of
> silence at the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall, reading the names of George
> Floyd and others killed during police interactions. They knelt for 8
> minutes and 46 seconds – now a symbol of police brutality and violence –
> the length of time prosecutors say Floyd was pinned under a white police
> officer’s knee before he died.
> “We cannot settle for anything less than transformative structural
> change,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, drawing on the nation’s history
> of slavery.
> The Justice in Policing Act would limit legal protections for police,
> create a national database of excessive-force incidents and ban police
> choke holds, among other changes, according to an early draft. It is the
> most ambitious change to law enforcement sought by Congress in years.
> Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus,
> which is leading the effort, said called it “bold” and “transformative.”
> “The world is witnessing the birth of a new movement in this country,”
> Bass said.
> Tens of thousands of demonstrators nationwide have been protesting in the
> streets since Floyd was killed May 25 for an end to police violence.
> “A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession
> where you have highly trained officers that are accountable to the public,”
> Bass said.
> The package confronts several aspects of law enforcement accountability
> and practices that have come under criticism, especially as more and more
> police violence is captured on cellphone video and shared widely across the
> nation, and the world.
> The proposed legislation would revise the federal criminal police
> misconduct statute to make it easier to prosecute officers who are involved
> in misconduct “knowingly or with reckless disregard.”
> The package would also change “qualified immunity” protections for police
> “to enable individuals to recover damages when law enforcement officers
> violate their constitutional rights,” it says.
> The legislation would seek to provide greater oversight and transparency
> of police behaviour in several ways. For one, it would grant subpoena power
> to the Justice Department to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations
> of potential misconduct and help states conduct independent investigations.
> It would ban racial profiling and boost requirements for police body
> cameras.
> And it would create a “National Police Misconduct Registry,” a database to
> try to prevent officers from transferring from one department to another
> with past misconduct undetected, the draft said.
> A long-sought federal anti-lynching bill stalled in Congress is included
> in the package.
> However, the package stops short calls by leading activists to “defund the
> police,” a push to dismantle or reduce financial resources to police
> departments that has struck new intensity in the weeks of protests since
> Floyd’s death.
> House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., a co-author
> with Bass and the Democratic senators, will convene a hearing on the
> legislation Wednesday.
> It is unclear if law enforcement and the powerful police unions will back
> any of the proposed changes or if congressional Republicans will join the
> effort.
> At least one Republican, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who has long pushed for a
> criminal justice overhaul, has said he’d like to review the package coming
> from Democrats.
> And Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary
> Committee, has said his panel intends to hold a hearing to review use of
> force issues and police practices.
> The presumed Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has backed a ban
> on chokeholds and other elements of the package.
> “I can’t breathe” has become a rallying cry by protesters. Floyd pleaded
> with police that he couldn’t breathe, echoing the same phrase Eric Garner
> said while in police custody in 2014 before his death.
> “All we’ve ever wanted is to be treated equally – not better, not worse,”
> said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. “Equal protection under the law.”
> Senators vowed to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to
> consider the legislation.
> Sen. Cory Booker, a Democratic rival who had been critical of Biden during
> the presidential primary campaign, said Sunday he “fully” put his faith in
> Biden now “to be the person who could preside over this transformative
> change.”
> Booker and fellow one-time presidential hopeful, Sen. Kamala Harris of
> California, are co-authors of the package in the Senate.
> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name
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