Postponing Tonight’s Strike Talk, Joining the East Flatbush Rebellion

We’ve decided to postpone tonight’s event, “Labor and the Strikes to Come,” to instead join the struggles currently taking place in East Flatbush. Here’s a statement from two of the panelists:

We planned for tonight a talk on austerity: how it is intrinsic to capitalism, and how it impacts different segments of the working class in different ways. Austerity is not just the cutting of salaries of public workers; it is the contraction of social reproduction on all scales and is accomplished in particular through white supremacy and patriarchy. Police violence is one of the most direct and violent manifestations of contemporary capitalism, aimed at terrorizing and eliminating the surplus and disposable labor populations in the city’s poorest areas. With the collapse of the welfare state the carrot is gone and only the stick remains.

The fight against the police is an essential part of the class struggle, which has reached a heightened moment in the last few days in Flatbush. We need a unified, militant working class, freed from capitalist NGOs, the murderous cops, the self-serving politicians. As revolutionaries we must ask ourselves how to bring this into being. We will gladly save our talk for another day, and instead pursue these questions in the streets tonight.

James and Jocelyn

On Saturday, 16-year-old Kimani Gray was murdered by the New York Police Department, shot 11 times by two plainclothes cops who failed to identify themselves. Since Monday, there have been nightly demonstrations in East Flatbush, and tonight we would like to join them. We encourage everyone reading this to join as well:

We think what’s happening in East Flatbush is not unrelated to what we’d planned to talk about tonight. What we’re seeing in Brooklyn is a wildcat strike of its own, an appropriate response to the abuse and uncertainty people are forced to live within under crisis, a bourgeois state, capitalism.

Our government can no longer make any guarantees about our safety and security. In fact, is they who we are often most afraid of. The anti-police chant, “who do you protect, who do you serve?” more and more reveals an unbridgeable gap between the ruling class and everyone else.

As we wrote in the original announcement for tonight’s talk, “As capitalism’s economic crisis continues we see increased confrontations with the police, more and more arrested and imprisoned… This crisis becomes more and more one of governance and management, as the political economy of the bourgeoisie is not just something experienced but rather enforced.”

For those in our neighborhoods and cities rendered as merely surplus population, permanently unemployed or underemployed, with homelessness in New York City reportedly reaching record heights, with Rikers Island being the largest penal colony in the world, the government has very few solutions or even proposals. It seems only to be able to criminalize those suffering under capitalism, stopping, frisking, arresting, imprisoning, and more and more, shooting those it has no answers for.

That all of this repression is felt that much more intensely and brutally by Blacks and immigrants should go without saying. But five years into Barack Obama’s presidency, we should remind ourselves that white and male supremacy remains the order of the day.

Those in East Flatbush have realized precisely that the strikes to come will need to take new forms, that the oppression we each experience will be fought on our own streets, in our own neighborhoods, against those whose job it is to keep us down: cops, politicians, and so-called community representatives, in collaboration with our bosses and landlords.

As the Fire Next Time Network wrote, the legend of the “outside agitator” as it is being used in the narrative around East Flatbush Rebellion damages our potential for solidarity, and ignores the autonomy of Black militants to decide for themselves how to revolt. In their call they write, “The target has been the 67th Precinct all week, but we have not had enough forces to take it on. All the crews across New York should converge in Flatbush and then march towards the 67th precinct.” First the neighborhood, then the city.