Throw the racist police out of the Banlieues, build self-defense committees and organize mass protests of the workers and oppressed!
By Johannes Moraga, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 27 February 2017, www.thecommunists.net
The Terror of the French Police
A few weeks ago, French police officers, who have a long history of killing and harassment, in particular migrant working class youth of the suburbs of Paris and other cities, raped 22year old Theo, a black brother with no criminal record. While Theo was in police custody, officers beat, tear-gassed and anally raped him with a police-baton. The terrorist pigs who so violently abused Theo also shouted racist insults at him during his ordeal. After the story went viral, the lying police even went so far as to call the crime an “accident.” Theo suffered from serious injuries and had to be rushed to hospital. This horrible, brutal incident is not an isolated one, as the capitalist press and the social-democrats would want us to believe. Rather it is a manifestation of systemic police oppression against the poor masses in great cities.
This particular incident is yet another in the long brutal war that imperialist France is conducting against the French working class, as well as against migrant youth and the oppressed peoples of Africa and the Arab world; but no less so, the ongoing systematic oppression of Muslims in France by the police and the vile racist bourgeois state. In the France of today, a black brother is six times more likely to be stopped by the police than a white one is; and an Arab brother is eight times more likely. (1)
Systemic Islamophobia, the oppression of the migrant youth, the brutal violence against workers’ strikes and the military aggression overseas (in Mali, Central Africa, Syria, Iraq, etc.) are merely different weapons in the arsenal of the French ruling class, all of which are directed against the oppressed. They are waging war against us; and we, the working class, the poor, the migrants, the black and Muslim people as well as the peoples of Africa and the Middle East, need to unite and fight a joint battle to defend ourselves and our future.
It is encouraging to see the massive spread of the protests in solidarity with Theo – starting from demonstrations in suburbs to regular marches in cities all over France, including Paris. Most recently the protests reached a new level with many schools being barricaded. The RCIT wholeheartedly welcomes this uprising!
How to organize resistance?
Naturally the suffering of Theo and the constant provocative and racist behavior of the police which is behaving no differently than a force of occupation in the Banlieus (suburbs) sparked protests and small, locally isolated uprisings. It is very clear that the French state sees the police as an occupation force against the working class and migrant districts themselves – that’s why they call them field brigades and use mostly white officers who are from far away cities and regions. The first instinct of the poor and migrant youth was to throw the police out of their districts. This is what happened in 2005 in Paris after the murder of Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré; in London 2011 after the murder of Mark Duggan; in 2014 in Ferguson after the murder of Michael Brown; and in 2015 in Baltimore after the murder of Freddie Gray.
This reflex in response to long-term oppression, which explodes after a single, particularly outrageous police-crime, is natural and deeply justified. But if we want to succeed in stopping the racist police and their terrorization of the masses of our black and migrant brothers and sisters we need to be organized! It is not enough to attack the police and to try to drive them out of the districts at the night. As long as we don’t have organized self-defense units in our communities to drive the police out and keep them out, and to start to organize order that is in the interest of the community, we will have more Theos, Bounas, Zyeds and Adamas in the future!
It is also important to spread the movement, as we already have seen in the demonstrations outside of the Banlieus and in solidarity movements in other cities and in the schools. However, it is crucial to extend the movement to the workers! A crucial link to this should be the Arab and black workers who suffer the same violence and who are particularly over-exploited! Thousands of workers have had their own (bad) experiences with the violent, terrorist police during the strikes against the labor reform last year. So now it is doubly important to fight together for justice, against racist oppression and for more rights for the workers and poor! We call upon the trade unions, the PCF, NPA and LO to organize strikes in solidarity with the migrant youth and organize joint protests! It is vital that the workers’ movement actively supports the migrant youth in their struggle, so they don’t stay isolated like in 2005!
No to pacifism and illusions in the state – for a revolutionary way forward!
The revolutionary answer to the ongoing racist crimes of the police must be clear and offer a perspective of struggle for the militant migrant youth! It must go beyond condemning the crimes and pointing out their systemic nature (even the reformists and liberals can do this). The revolutionary answer must say clearly what to do, how to defend our class, and how to achieve justice. The two central things to fight for must be, first, to build self-defense units, that don’t rely solely on the bravery of the youth, but which are organized; and second, to spread the movement throughout France and especially to the working class in the factories.
The French left, which is mostly quite blind and economistic in its perspective to the needs of the masses of black and Arab peoples, has displayed serious weaknesses in this matter. Sadly, the NPA, the Lutte Ouvriére and L’Étincelle (The Spark) do not call for the formation of self-defense units of the oppressed, nor do they even mention the word self-defense. And this is in a situation in which thousands of young migrants are fighting against the police to defend themselves and their districts! These forces of the left defend the movement, but don’t cross the line from centrism to revolutionary communism. Thus, they go no farther than defending the oppressed and explaining the reasons why they are oppressed, but without demonstrating the militant path towards liberation. A very positive exception to this error among the French left is Révolution Permanente (the French Section of the Fracción Trotskista) which calls for throwing the police out of the Banlieus.
Much worse of course is the so called “Communist” Party – the reformist PCF – which has supported the imperialist French state a number of times in its fight against militant resistance, what they call “terrorism” (e.g., supporting the “state of emergency”; supporting imperialist wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, Mali, etc.) The PCF not only doesn’t give any perspective for the mass movement, but they even appeal to the capitalist “justice” system, and – insanely – call to recruit 20,000 more cops! (2) Naturally, this is not surprising given the fact that the PCF slandered the militant youth in the 2005 uprising.
What we need is a militant revolutionary party which is rooted in the lower layers of the working class and in particular among the migrants! It is urgent that revolutionaries in France and throughout Europe stop directing their political work towards white university students and start working in the suburbs, Banlieus and factories! We call upon all genuine revolutionaries to unite under a revolutionary program and to dedicate themselves to building such genuine revolutionary parties and a new World Party which will break with the tradition of white social-chauvinist reformism and the passivity of centrism! We in the RCIT commits all our force to this aim!
Victory to the Banlieus – throw the police out, build self-defense committees!
Extend the movement to the masses of the working class and to the youth!
For a revolutionary migrant movement to combat police violence and racism!
Down with French imperialism – defeat it at home and abroad!