A Black August town hall at a church in NW DC on August 20th generated some very strong suggestions on what it will take to hold racist officials and killer cops responsible for their crimes. One speaker during the “aggressive protests and public relations” panel said getting the government to pay attention (at the Cabinet level) to say, anti-TPP protests would require shutting down the Port of Baltimore and all traffic on I-95 in both directions. In the final panel one speaker warned that both the 1st and 2nd Amendments are being ignored by police and courts where African-Americans are involved.
Most of this Town Hall Meeting of United Organizations and Activists Against Police State Murders and Mass Incarceration concerned legal and legislative strategies to combat the second-class citizen status of Black Americans. Even there tough talk was heard about encouraging a global boycott of anything “made in AmeriiKKKa,”
of tourism, and of holding the US accountable before the United Nations for persistant human rights violations and outright murder targetting people of African descent. Crimes against Native Americans also came up as grounds for internatonal sanctions, divestment, and boycotts aimed at the US.
In the arena of legislative and electoral action,MD Senator Mike Miller from PG County was called out as a vicious racist who could be defeated by swinging as few 10,000 votes. MD Sen Miller has been in office over 30 years, and the Baltimore Sun called him out for such things as “vehemently oppsing” replacing slave owner John Hanson with Harriett Tubman in MD’s contribution to the National Statutory Hall Collection. John Hanson was president of the 1st Continental Congress-and once posted a bounty of $30 for the return of a person who had escaped from slavery at his hands. In those days a dollar was 1/20th of a ounce of gold. In August 2016, nasdaq.com listed gold as reaching a price of just over $1,370 per ounce and closing Friday at $1,346.20 per ounce. In other words, John Hanson was offering a bribe of just over $2,000 in today’s money to kidnap and return someone he claimed as a slave, yet MD Senator Mike Miller is violently opposed to replacing his statue with one of anti-slavery warrior Harriett Tubman! He is from majority Black PG County and yet he gets away with things like this. As it is with MD Senator Miller, so it is with legislators in general.
With racists like that in power, the question of whether or not it is justifiable to place the Port of Baltimore under blockade and do the same thing to I-95 just north or south of the Baltimore Beltway should not have to be asked. Instead the questions would be the ones that were in fact mentioned by that speaker in the first panel mentioning a hypothetical TPP protest: Are the resources to support that level of protest ready? Has bail money been raised? Are lawyers of the Kunstler class standing by to counter prosecutors seeking to send the protest organizers to federal prison? We’ve already seen a law passed a decade or more ago here in DC that made blocking the 14th st and similar bridges a felony after striking garbage collectors used their trucks to block the the 14th st bridge in rush hour. More recent Black Lives Matter blockades of the same bridge targetted the approaches to the bridge instead, thus preventing such charge by staying just yards out of range and letting traffic do the rest.
Although the Port of Baltimore has not yet been shut down by Black Lives Matter or by TPP protesters, the April 2015 Baltimore Uprising did shut down a major strategic target by laying siege to the Baltimore Orioles stadium and trashing some of the surrounding sports bars. That stadium had to be shut down for a week, costing white-owned upscale business millions in lost revenue. As for ports, all ports on the West Coast were shut down both by striking longshoremen on May Day 2008 to protest the Iraq War. In 2011 Occupy Oakland shut down the roads exiting the port of Oakland for several hours, costing the city an estimated $4M in revenue. All of these were in fact exercises in strategic warfare, focussed on inflicting economic damage on an enemy and ultimately denying that enemy the resources to continue a conflict.