While the image that comes to mind when most people think about “antifa” is a legion of black-clad militants ready to throw punches, this kind of research is antifascist work too. In fact, monitoring is integral to antifascist operations. Antifa is a series of organizing tactics and an ethos, not any specific organization; while any decentralized group encompasses a variety of ideas, antifa consists of opposing fascist groups by any means available, including, if necessary, violence. For many antifascists, however, infiltration, monitoring, and research are their primary or sole ways of engaging in antifascism. Fighting militant fascist groups is a large and complicated endeavor, and while aiming a fist at a Nazi’s face can be part of that opposition, it is only one way. Just as other forms of social activism require a diversity of tactics—the protester who marches, the planner who puts together a city budget to defund police forces, the person who attends city council meetings—so too does antifascism. The research is unglamorous, exhausting, and involves psychologically torturous degrees of deception. You have to expose yourself to a disgusting mass of racist bile, which takes a grinding toll on the spirit. It also must be done carefully: Members of far-right groups can and do target activists and their families with death threats, harassment, and even violence.
For several weeks at the beginning of the outbreak in the U.S., the need to control the virus took precedence over other concerns. Now, for many people, the pandemic is no longer the most pressing national issue. As protesters and some public-health officials have said they are weighing the harms of police violence against the risk of increased viral spread and choosing to gather in the streets, state governments have made similar risk-reward arguments about balancing public-health and economic concerns. The virus does not care about these trade-offs. Retail reopenings and racial-justice protests may exist on different moral planes, but to the virus they both present new environments for spreading.
From America Is Giving Up on the Pandemic by Alexis C. Madrigal and Robinson Meyer
That the reforms instituted post-Ferguson appear to be insufficient is part of why support is building for a more dramatic overhaul of policing in America. Specifically, calls to defund the police have made the leap from protesters’ handheld signs to mainstream policy discussions on Twitter. When a Vox correspondent tweeted that the idea of abolishing the police was “poorly thought-out,” he was dragged to the point of rescinding it, as advocates pointed out that the theory has in fact been developed over decades by careful thinkers. It’s an example of how social media can help to propel a political critique from the fringes to the point of acceptance by a media establishment that would have otherwise comfortably dismissed it.
From The Protests Remind Us Why Social Media Is Worth Fixing by Will Oremus
A thin safety net, an expansive security state: This is the American way. At all levels of government, the country spends roughly double on police, prisons, and courts what it spends on food stamps, welfare, and income supplements. At the federal level, it spends twice as much on the Pentagon as on assistance programs, and eight times as much on defense as on education. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will ultimately cost something like $6 trillion and policing costs $100 billion a year. But proposals to end homelessness ($20 billion a year), create a universal prekindergarten program ($26 billion a year), reduce the racial wealth gap through baby bonds ($60 billion a year), and eliminate poverty among families with children ($70 billion a year) somehow never get financed. All told, taxpayers spend $31,286 a year on each incarcerated person, and $12,201 a year on every primary- and secondary-school student.
From Defund the Police by Annie Lowry (via Paul Bausch)
My research has found that some protest movements have more trouble than others getting legitimacy. My co-author Summer Harlow and I have studied how local and metropolitan newspapers cover protests. We found that narratives about the Women’s March and anti-Trump protests gave voice to protesters and significantly explored their grievances. On the other end of the spectrum, protests about anti-black racism and indigenous people’s rights received the least legitimizing coverage, with them more often seen as threatening and violent.
From Riot or resistance? How media frames unrest in Minneapolis will shape public’s view of protest by Danielle K. Kilgo
There are those out there that may say I need to fight harder, but dude I’m tired. I’m tired of being a Black man who has to come to a meeting after working all day to explain myself. I’m tired of being called on to educate white people for free while they try to gaslight me. I’m tired of begging for a chance to fix problems you have constructed. I’m tired of fighting with privileged allies for the right to speak for my own people when I’m being traumatized on a daily basis. I just want to feel like my thoughts & ideas matter, which hasn’t been the case with the 107ist. I just want to have a beer, jump, clap & sing without feeling like I am being used.
Spare me your empathy if it does not come coupled with institutional change. Support the initiatives and institutions that help people of color get out there, like the nonprofit Outdoor Afro and the National Park Foundation’s African American Experience Fund. Help reframe the discussion about the outdoors. Highlight the stories of the buffalo soldiers, who became some of America’s first park rangers. Tell the children about Harriet Tubman’s ability to interpret the weather. Be unafraid of the historical contexts that hold weight in our country. Explore and overturn those caricatures that are deeply embedded in the mythology we perpetuate about the unjust portions of our history. Having an integrated outdoors means embracing all of America—complete with its messy origins, complicated backstory, and currently murky future. It might mean allowing someone else to claim what you believed to be your exclusive birthright.
From We’re Here. You Just Don’t See Us. by Latria Graham
What did the weekend of terrifying civil unrest that has seized America’s cities look like from City Hall? For the mayors of major U.S. cities, what began as protests over police violence triggered by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25 has intensified into something else — a national uprising that’s also a complex, fast-changing threat to public safety, driven by forces and actors not yet fully understood and threaded with the unseen menace of a still-active pandemic.
From What Mayors Are Saying About the George Floyd Protests by CityLab Staff
Instead, it’s become normal in the U.S. for police departments to revert to tactics that amplify tensions and provoke protesters, Maguire said, including wearing intimidating tactical gear before its use would be warranted. Maguire does training for police officers and has tried, for years, to get buy-in on the idea that there could be a different way. “I have good relationships with police and I’ve been working with them for 25 years, and I’ve never experienced pushback like I do on this,” Maguire said.
From Why So Many Police Are Handling the Protests Wrong by Magie Koerth and Jamiles Lartey
Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.
From How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change by Barack Obama
My biggest fear as a Black woman and public health leader was the all-too-likely murder of an unarmed Black person at the hands of police leading to mass protests amid the virulence of two infectious diseases: racism and Covid-19. And here we are, a few weeks later, in the nightmarish scenario I can’t unsee: Black America and allies, rightfully angry and fed up with 400-plus years of racist violence and white supremacy, taking to the streets to protest in cities around the country and the world.
From My nightmare: Covid-19 meets racism meets the killing of a Black person by police by Lauren Powell
We all know the James Baldwin quote about how being black and relatively conscious means being in a rage all the time. This is also the plight of the black journalist. If you think consuming black death day in and day out can be remedied by some “emotional distance” and “journalistic integrity,” you are wrong.
From Black Journalists and Covering the Storm That Never Passes by Danielle C. Belton
Instead of casting police as the public servants they are, we talk about them as heroes and warriors — the people going after the bad guys, the people shooting at criminals. And indeed, for Americans who look like me — white, middle class — the police are understood as a protective force. With the big exception of sexual violence, I generally know that I can call the police if I am the victim of a crime and they will be responsive. Because of the color of my skin, I never worry that the police will interpret my very presence as criminality. The white Americans who venerate the police as our heroes and protectors play an enormous part in this farcical system of pretending the police are heroic, uniquely brave tough guys who take on extraordinary risks; this allows us to justify handing them expansive legal and cultural cover as if they’re the most delicate, special, and vulnerable among us. It should not work this way, that one group has both so much power over others and so very little obligation to them. That one group floats on the myth that they are the warriors for peace and safety — that they put their live on the line so the rest of us can be safe — while in reality the risk is pushed off onto civilians, and there are no consequences when those same officers are active and ongoing threats to peace and safety.
From The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations by Jill Filipovic
Now, as ever, we must commit ourselves to the responsibility of our inheritance. This requires study, humility, attention to history. Learn to hold unknowing in your gut, to sit with complexity, to not be sure. It is a beguiling aspect of the present era that more and more people like me are starting to see ourselves as white, that we are starting to reckon with the remnants of our inheritance, to see the thread connecting black and white images of racist violence to Facebook streams of police shootings. This is a welcome development, but there is no manual for this, only best practices. Choose restraint over excessive enthusiasm, listening over talking, presence over comfort, maturity over innocence. You will fail at this, as I and many other white people concerned with racial justice have inevitably failed. But you cannot bow out. The tension between silence and protest, between taking up space and ceding it to others, is one that must be constantly negotiated. Mistakes will be made. Acknowledge them, repair the damage, move forward.
From White innocence is a fantasy. Here’s how I’m confronting it by Mason Bryan
He’s right. Once again, Trump has led the US out of an international agreement that we used to dominate. Just two days ago, president of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass said that Trump’s foreign policy doctrine should be called the “Withdrawal Doctrine.” Trump has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact designed to pressure China to meet international rules; the Paris climate accord; the 2015 Iran nuclear deal; the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, limiting nuclear weapons; UNESCO, the U.N.’s educational, scientific, and cultural agency; the Open Skies Treaty that allowed countries to fly over each other to monitor military movements. He pulled U.S. troops away from our former Kurdish allies in Syria, and has threatened to leave the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—NATO—that ties 30 North American and European countries into a military alliance.