Letter from a Reader:

Trump Regime Escalates Fascist Repression in Response to the Beautiful Rising

| revcom.us


Editors’ Note: We received this letter from a reader, highlighting and documenting some key repressive moves by the fascist Trump/Pence regime, which it is important for all our readers to know. In the face of these moves and any heightened repression, it is really important not only to fight these politically and legally, but also that the beautiful and righteous struggles of the people come back stronger and grow through this, furthering the illegitimacy of the regime and its acts. Stay tuned for Episode 17 of the Revolution, Nothing Less! weekly show on the @therevcoms YouTube channel where they will cover some of the key lessons—with broader and relevant implications of the victory in the Freeway 9 case.


Since the heartless murder of George Floyd seven weeks ago, the U.S. has been swept by wave upon wave of protests demanding an end to police brutality and to the systemic racist oppression that stalks every moment and every aspect of life for people of color. And millions, including many white people, have rebelled against, or at least begun to seriously question, the myth of “America, the Land of the Free” and to examine the actual foundations of this country—which are slavery, genocide and conquest.

As part of this, mass demonstrations have targeted and sometimes torn down or defaced monuments honoring historical figures who have been held up as “heroes” in the U.S. It began with statues of Confederate soldiers, generals and leaders who waged a bloody Civil War to defend slavery. Almost 1,800 of these monuments were erected decades later, to celebrate white supremacy and to terrorize Black people.

Later, other figures who were seen as symbols of oppression were targeted, including Columbus, “The Founding Fathers,” and Trump’s hero, President Andrew Jackson, a genocidal monster and wealthy slave owner known as “The Indian Killer” in his time. [Read Bob Avakian’s “On Statues, Monuments, and Celebrating—or Ending—Oppression” for a fuller and deeper look at all of this.—Editor]

Even if not every action taken as part of all this upheaval has been right, as a whole this has truly been “a beautiful rising.” And the calling out of the “saints” of white supremacy is a liberating challenge to the oppression and exploitation that has been suffocating and killing people for so many generations.

And for that very reason, this uprising is intolerable to the Trump/Pence regime, which is now targeting it for heavy repression. I am writing this letter to inform revcom readers of some of this.

Trump’s Fascist Executive Order

On June 26, Trump signed an “Executive Order on Protecting American Monuments, Memorials and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence.”

To be blunt, this Order is a fascist call to arms, a frenzied tirade against the uprising, culminating in a concrete plan to suppress it.

The Order seeks to justify fascist repression by painting a wildly distorted picture in which “innocent citizens” are under attack by “arsonists and left-wing extremists” who “have led riots in the streets, burned police vehicles, killed and assaulted government officers as well as business owners defending their property...”

But the language of the Order makes very clear that Trump’s fury is not fueled by concern for the “innocent,” or minor property damage. It is the fact that the protests have gone beyond challenging one glaring injustice, and are starting to take on the oppression that pervades U.S. history and U.S. society today. Trump’s Order complains that the uprising “paints the United States of America as fundamentally unjust,” “shamelessly attack[s] the legitimacy of our institutions,” and challenges “the fundamental truth that America is good, her people are virtuous, and that justice prevails in this country to a far greater extent than anywhere else in the world.”

In an ominous passage, Trump targets “Marxism” in particular, saying that:

Many of the rioters, arsonists, and left-wing extremists who have carried out and supported these acts have explicitly identified themselves with ideologies—such as Marxism—that call for the destruction of the United States system of government.

All this is what turns protesters—in Trump’s eyes—into “violent extremists” in the grip of “a fringe ideology.”

Blind, unquestioning loyalty to the “fatherland,” and an almost religious fervor about the “virtue” of its people, are particular hallmarks of fascism (though the Democrats, too, chant “USA, USA,” wave the flag and talk about America as the “exceptional nation” in the world). The whole upsurge against police murder and racism is at odds with that, and Trump sees the struggle around the monuments as the cutting edge of this... and he is determined to smash it.

His Order says:

Key targets in the violent extremists’ campaign against our country are public monuments, memorials, and statues. Their selection of targets reveals ... a desire to indiscriminately destroy anything that honors our past and to erase from the public mind any suggestion that our past may be worth honoring, cherishing, remembering, or understanding.


My Administration will not allow violent mobs incited by a radical fringe to become the arbiters of the aspects of our history that can be celebrated in public spaces.

This is what guides the Order, a plan for major repression that the Trump/Pence regime has already begun to implement.

Extreme Penalties for “Participating”

For starters, the Order directs the U.S. government to bring federal charges—and to seek the maximum penalty under those charges—for “any person or any entity” [i.e., group or organization] “that destroys, damages, vandalizes, or desecrates a monument, memorial, or statue within the United States or otherwise vandalizes government property.” The maximum penalty for this charge—which could be applied to graffiti on a monument—is 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine for each count.

But it doesn’t stop there—it makes the same threat against “any person or entity” that “participates in efforts to incite violence or other illegal activity in connection with the riots and acts of vandalism.” Likewise, anyone who “assist[s] the agitator” or “aid[s] and abet[s]” others accused of federal crimes is subject to the same penalty.

Terms like “aid,” “abet,” and “assist” are quite broad and can include things like giving someone a ride or a bottle of water. What this comes down to is that anyone arrested at a protest at which vandalism was alleged to occur could be charged with “participating”... and face 10 years in jail. In other words, this Order criminalizes the whole storm of protest that has been unfolding for two months.

And these are not idle threats. The same day, Attorney General William Barr announced the formation of a Task Force:

... not only to enable prosecutions of extremists who engage in violence, but to understand these groups well enough that we can stop such violence before it occurs and ultimately eliminate it as a threat to public safety and the rule of law.

A plan to “eliminate” potential “threats” “before they occur” is punishment for “pre-crime”—arresting people because of what you suspect they are going to do. And it is only a short step away from “thought-crime,” where holding certain ideas that could lead people to criminal acts is itself a crime.

According to CNN, “More than 150 people have been charged federally related to the riots in recent weeks...” And in a June 25 interview on NPR, Barr said the Department of Justice has “approximately 300 investigations” nationwide, and, “We are obtaining information and intelligence about the operations of these people.”

Trump himself tweeted “wanted poster”-style flyers put out by U.S. Park Police for 15 unidentified people photographed allegedly defacing the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Park on June 22. Over the next few days five people were arrested, including the so-called alleged “ringleader” who was hit with two federal charges—a potential 20-year sentence.

Demanding—and Getting!—More Repression from Democratic Local Officials

Trump’s Order rails against “State and local governments” that have “surrendered to mob rule” and “lost the will or the desire to stand up to the radical fringe.” In fact, local governments across the U.S. have been extremely repressive—with cops and National Guard beating and in one case shooting protesters, gassing people, imposing curfews and arresting thousands. But most have combined this repression with trying to appear sympathetic, negotiating with protesters and making some minor concessions. Trump was particularly incensed by the decision of the mayor and police chief of Seattle to allow protesters to occupy the Capitol Hill district for three weeks. Trump demands more unrelenting and severe repression.

The Order threatens local governments and police departments with cuts in federal funds if they have “failed to protect public monuments, memorials, and statues” in the manner and spirit that Trump demands. And it directs federal agencies (like the FBI) to “work with state and local law enforcement ... in connection with their investigations or prosecutions” of protesters, and to bring federal charges wherever possible. In other words, he wants agencies under his command to be in the mix with local officials, making sure they crack down with heavy charges.

Trump issued his Order on a Friday, and a sense of what these changes will mean soon followed. That Monday, an LA task force of local law enforcement and the FBI announced it was investigating “individuals committing criminal activity” during protests, and would “hold people accountable for ... federal violations.” On Wednesday, Seattle police attacked and cleared the Capitol Hill protesters, arresting 31 on state charges. The same day, cops attacked an occupied area in New York City.

“Pre-Deployed” Armed Enforcers

Perhaps the most chilling part of the Order is that it authorizes the use of federal forces in local areas, without being requested by local officials. It says that “Upon the request” from one of several federal departments, “the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide ... personnel to assist with the protection of Federal monuments, memorials, statues, or property.” These three departments command a lot of armed force—the U.S. military, Border Patrol, ICE, FBI, the Secret Service and more, none of which are normally used against local street protests, and the legality of doing this without a request from local authorities is questionable.

Days later, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) went into action, announcing the formation of a task force to “protect monuments,” whether on federal land or not. The head of DHS said:

As we approach the July 4th holiday, I have directed the deployment and pre-positioning of Rapid Deployment Teams across the country to respond to potential threats to facilities and property.

Two days later, it was reported that these teams had been sent to a number of cities, including Portland and Seattle, while others were being pre-positioned to be able to reach anywhere in the U.S. within six hours! According to CNN, Border Patrol and ICE agents are playing a major role in these teams. The Border Patrol in particular is notorious both for its thuggish brutality and for being enthusiastic supporters of Trump.

The Larger Context

All this constitutes a reorganization of repressive forces under direct command of the regime, explicitly targeting a mass movement for justice that also challenges blind American patriotism and American exceptionalism. And it is happening in a larger context in which the Trump/Pence regime is making shocking and bold moves almost daily to consolidate fascism. Among these are: Trump is rousing his hard-core supporters on the basis of all-but-open white supremacy, re-tweeting people chanting white power or using firearms to threaten protesters. He is issuing threats against universities for allowing “Radical Left Indoctrination” on campuses. Attorney General Barr is firing people in key positions in the Department of Justice and replacing them with Trump loyalists. And much more.

This is a very serious situation. Many progressive and liberal people are being led to so focus on Trump’s declining poll numbers that they don’t notice that fundamentally, the regime is not aiming to be popular, it is focused on using the vast power and significant support it already commands in order to bring the hammer down on its opponents—an approach that could easily “trump” their lack of majority support, unless people are mobilized in the streets in their millions to oppose this and actually drive the regime from power.

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