-Ashley Smith, Community Voices for Immigrant Rights
Trump is desperate. The pandemic, recession, and uprising for Black lives have undermined his popularity and wrecked his credibility. His polls are plummeting across the country, even in the so-called “red states.”
To salvage his failing regime and hopes for reelection, Trump has turned to law and order racism and repression. At first, he tried to order the military to repress protests against racism and police brutality, but the generals blocked him.
So, instead, he deployed federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security to crush the demonstrations in Portland, Oregon. He’s planning to send them to Chicago, New York, Oakland, and over a dozen cities across the country.
These agents evoke memories of the Gestapo. Their uniforms do not have identification, they patrol the city in unmarked vans, and they pack military grade weaponry.
They have teargassed protesters, beaten them, and detained many without charges in undisclosed locations. Trump’s storm troopers are a threat to our democratic rights and their deployment must be stopped immediately.
Portland Shows Us How to Fight
Trump hoped to intimidate the people of Portland with outright repression. But his strategy has backfired. The movement has grown even bigger, broader, and more radical.
Parents of protesters formed a “Wall of Moms” and a “Wall of Dads” to protect activists. The dads showed up with leaf blowers to disperse the Fed’s teargas.
More groups are joining them. Organized workers have called for a “Wall of Unions” and military veterans built a “Wall of Vets.” The protests have become so militant that they successfully forced the Feds to retreat to their headquarters.
Portland has shown us how to resist. We must follow their lead and rise up against the deployment of Trump’s storm troopers everywhere. In the words of the anti-fascist movement in Spain against Franco in the 1930s, we must say “No Pasarán!”—“You Shall Not Pass!”
Bringing the War Home
Who are Trump’s storm troopers? They all come from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It was formed as part of the so-called War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. We know that war is based on lies. It has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with empire and oil.
The US set up DHS to be the domestic arm of the war abroad. It houses among other agencies the Federal Marshalls, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and ICE’s Border Tactical Unit (BORTAC) that are right now deployed in Portland. They usually police the borders, surveil, arrest, and deport undocumented immigrants, Arabs, and Muslims.
Trump has now turned this giant apparatus of repression against the uprising for Black lives and against all of us. Thus, as Martin Luther King said during the Vietnam War, “the bombs dropped abroad explode at home.”
Will the Democratic Party Resist Trump’s Authoritarianism?
Thankfully the Democratic Party has protested the deployment of these paramilitary forces in Portland. But let’s be honest about the Democrats. They supported the establishment of DHS. Obama used ICE to deport more immigrants than any other president in US history.
Vermont’s Senator Leahy secured the contracts with DHS and ICE to establish their operations in Williston. ICE’s office centralizes national information on undocumented workers and informs agents to arrest and deport them across the country.
Even worse, some Democrats are collaborating with Trump. Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that she would welcome Trump’s agents on the condition that they police violent crime in her city. In other words, she will aid and abet federal police brutality carried out by Trump’s goon squads.
Luckily, other Democratic Party governors and mayors oppose the Fed’s deployment. But they don’t do so on anti-racist grounds. They say their state troopers and local police can control protests and fight crime.
That is no alternative. We don’t want state troopers and local cops repressing our protests and policing our cities. They are part of the problem, not the solution.
Defund DHS, ICE and the Police!
Trump won’t listen to the Democrats anyway. He will deploy his storm troopers if we do not organize and resist. We must follow the example of Portland and protest in bigger numbers against the federal and local police state.
Here in Vermont, we must demonstrate at the ICE and DHS offices in Williston. They help Trump carry out repression in our state and across the country. Community Voices for Immigrant Rights invites everyone to join us on an organizing Zoom call on August 3rd at 6pm to plan a demonstration against them.
We all have a stake in this fight. As Martin Luther King declared, “a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Trump is attacking immigrants, Black people, Muslims, Arabs, and Indigenous people.
In doing so, he is undermining everyone’s right to assemble and protest for justice, equality and freedom. And he’s wasting our money on this repression and policing. That’s why we must unite and fight to defund DHS, ICE and the police and eventually abolish them all.
We should take all that money and pay reparations to Black people and other groups oppressed by the US at home and abroad as well as fund jobs programs, Medicare for All, social services, and a Green New Deal. Amidst the pandemic and recession, we must fight to put needs of oppressed people, the working class, and the environment first.