Inside the Black Rebellion in the USA: Interview with the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement (RAM)

Interview granted by e-mail by our comrades of the RAM New York City Branch for the Media and Propaganda Commission of FOB. The Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement (RAM) participates directly in several cities in the historical black and antirracist insurgency that shakes the structures of racist America, white supremacy and capital, an upheaval that spreads all over the world with the antirracist struggle in the center of imperialism.

Originally published by Federação das Organizações Sindicalistas Revolucionárias do Brasil (FOB).

FOB: Brothers and sisters of RAM, first of all we would like you to present the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement and your activities as a revolutionary, anti-colonial and internationalist movement against white supremacy and capitalism in the racist Amerika, the heart of

RAM: We are very happy to talk with you about what is happening here especially because our groups have similar aims and objectives in each of our locations.

We are revolutionary anarchists. Our objective is to work alongside all of those who are oppressed by the United States, to help support rebellion, and to build revolutionary counter-power so that we can destroy this state and people can live with dignity both here and abroad. We have chapters in several cities and organize along decentralized lines, so that we can build hubs in different locales that can be organized according to the specific conditions in each place. The similarity between the groups is that we believe the US was built on a foundation of white supremacy and that ethos is embedded so deeply in the country, that it must be destroyed for people to achieve liberation. In fact, it is through the process of destroying that we can develop ourselves and find our power again.

During the calm moments, we organize primarily with people who are incarcerated. Black and brown people do incredible amounts of jail time, often facing torture and execution, for very small infractions of the law. We have a project where we send political literature to people who are locked up, which has led to longterm relationships and political alignment. We support jail resistance, like the recent prison strikes. And we intend to build these relationships further so we can organize together with people inside so we can eradicate the prison system altogether. We also do community projects, like a community bail fund, food giveaways, and political education like film screenings and study groups. The idea is that we want to build relationships with everyone who feels similarly and who bares the burnt of the wrath of the state.

For a longtime we have felt that there is a significant part of the population who would rise up and fight if they felt that the fight could be won. The recent uprisings have shown that to be true and opened up a new path of resistance.

FOB: What is your understanding and your participation in this new black and anti-racist insurgency against police brutality in the USA, since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis? How does the insurgency spread to other parts of the country, heading to be the greatest black uprising since the Los Angeles riots in 1992?

RAM: This new black uprising is one of the most important developments in any of our lifetimes in the United States. The murder of George Floyd, we should remember, is not even an odd occurrence in this country. The murder of black people by the police, white racists, and deputized citizens is so common place that often it hardly becomes a big news story. Recently though, there has been back to back stories of white supremacist violence – with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and the Amy Cooper Central Park incident (where a white woman called police pretending to be in distress).

These incidents along with the viciousness of George Floyd’s murder made the perfect storm. What started out as protest against the police immediately turned into one of the biggest uprisings the country has ever seen. The first day in Minneapolis clashes with the police began. The second day the movement began burning down capitalist businesses, clashing with police, and expropriating goods from stores. By this time most of us realized the intensity of the struggle and knew we needed to act. Three days after George Floyd was killed the third precinct in Minneapolis was burned to the ground, the police fled for their lives, and the rebellion, essentially took control of the streets.

This was a sign to everyone in the country, and in actuality, to people around the world that the struggle in the United States was now truly active. In New York City, the movement in the streets was more militant than anything we have ever seen. The wealthy districts were totally looted. The capitalist press and the pigs argued that this opportunistic, but people knew these neighborhoods were part of the cause of their misery, and they were targeted in the class struggle. The NYPD has over 35,000 police officers, making it the largest force in the country by far. The police also have a well known reign of terror in the streets and in their facilities. This uprising is one of the first times we have seen people lose all their fear of these fascists, confront them, beat them, and push them out of neighborhoods. Soho, for instance, was looted because the pigs took a defensive position and were too scared to actively fight back.  This resistance will leave a mark on the country indefinitely.

One other important fact is that places that have never had huge uprisings, or protest movements in general, were at the forefront of the movement.  Towns in Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, and South Dakota, all had pretty big actions, and some were rather militant.

There are a few things we would like to make clear. The main momentum from these uprisings were not from the movements, but from the black youth. The black youth demonstrated a dynamism and fearlessness that has been long missing from the movements in the US. We can also tell that this energy will not go away for long! In our text, Burn Down the American Plantation, we wrote “the black struggle has the potential to unleash the all-encompassing violence that is black life back onto the entire country.” This is why the government, liberals, police, the entertainment industry, non-profits, and all the managers in society are doing their best to push for reform. But it won’t work.

FOB: How do you see the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA, that together with Brazil is leading the major part of the infections across the world? Furthermore, can you speak about the repressive offensive led by Donald Trump against the revolutionary and anti-fascist organizations, that resulted in dead people at the protests?

RAM: It is an affront to humanity that presidents Tump and Bolsonaro have intentionally dismissed the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis, leading to so many unnecessary deaths. Here there was no preparations whatsoever, even though there was advance notice. The US didn’t take the disease seriously so at the outbreak of the crisis, the Center for Disease Control was advising people not to wear masks. Additionally in New York City, where our chapter is based, the city was shut down very quickly and without preparation, so many people were fired from their jobs, and there was no financial assistance of any significance, no halt on rent and utility payments, and no help with food. Because the city was completely unprepared, so many people died. This means that so many people lost loved ones, got sick, and were dealing with hunger and alienation. The psychological weight of the crisis was also very heavy. So many people were dying that they had to be put in refrigerated trucks outside hospitals. Workers attested to carrying the bodies of their neighbors and friends, identified by only a number, into and out of the trucks. People who worked in hospitals didn’t have protective gear and there was a massive shortage of ventilators and hospital supplies. This horrific result was clearly a result of the state’s ignorance. In fact, the New York City mayor and governor excused themselves from the crisis by pleading ignorance of the effects of COVID-19.

In the meantime, COVID-19 became an excuse for the state to further crack down on oppressed people. There were many highly publicized beatings of black youth for not wearing masks and many more of these atrocities that were never publicized. Police became even more aggressive in the housing projects and poor communities. So not only were people suffering from sickness and death because of the city and federal governments, but they were also being brutalized in their neighborhoods.

This, and the continued racist police killings around the US (more than 1 per day), led to the incredible insurrections we saw erupt after the killing of George Floyd.

In the aftermath of the uprisings Donald Trump wanted to put the blame on anarchists and antifa. This is a typical counter-insurgency tactic used in the US: identify the extremists and try to separate them from ‘the people’ and blame them for instability and uprisings. People who were arrested during uprisings report that they were questioned about antifa by Federal agents. Trump has had it out for antifa ever since the movement organized resistance to his campaign events, his inauguration, and some of his more egregious policy moves (like establishing the network of concentration camps around the country.)

In reality anarchists and antifascists were not responsible for this uprising. We are responsible for having solidarity with the black liberation struggle. We are also responsible for popularizing some phrases and the idea of police and prison abolition. But we are only responsible for any of this in that anybody with staunch anti-racist politics is responsible. The people responsible for this are the police, the prison operators, the capitalists and the political class who have ensured black life is meaningless in America. The white civil society that criminalizes black life is who is responsible. We simply stand with the resistance.

In actuality, the FBI recently released a report stating that anarchists were not responsible, but in their normal ridiculousness the blamed “gangs.” Trump was ready for all out war with the rebellion as well. The National Guard was called in and after the incredible fighters in Minneapolis fought back. Trump announced that the military would be used. At this point, military officials defied him and this was an interesting moment to see the cracks in the state. We will remember this for the future.

However a far more effective and pernicious form of repression has come from the left-wing political establishment. There was a concerted attempt by corporate media, democratic politicians, and non-profits. They organized demonstrations that appealed to liberal sentiments: reform not revolution, convinced police departments country-wide to do a public campaign of ‘taking a knee’ like the famous stance of Colin Kaepernick, spun a media narrative that looters were hurting people and attacking small businesses, taking advantage of true political dissent.

The idea was to funnel the energy of liberal protestors into something that served the Democrat’s agenda and created a base of power for them in their ongoing negotiations with the right wing Republicans. These attempts were far more effective in calming down the street movements. Where once you had peace police being sidelined in the demonstrations, now the peace police made up the bulk of the crowd.

However, this is a false peace. We can see from our experience in the streets that something has really changed. People have fought back against the oppressors, and have found incredible power in the streets. Now things are quieter, but this is a temporary situation because there is no reform that will fix the foundations of the state. People will rise again.

FOB: Finally, we ask you to leave a message from RAM to every revolutionary and anti-colonialist fighters in Brazil, a message to every combative and antifascist struggle emerging here against the genocidal and far right government of Jair Bolsonaro, allied with the neonazi government of Donald Trump.

RAM: Revolutionary greets comrades! Here in the United States we are facing one of the most technologically advanced, repressive, and violent states in human history. We are also living amongst a population with enormous fascist sympathies. Even against these odds we have managed to push this country to the brink! Donald Trump was cowering in a bunker in his basement like a coward. Every step backwards we have taken we have no taken huge steps forward.

We have followed the situation in Brazil closely and we have nothing but love and respect for you. We believe we understand your struggle well. We both have these vicious leaders in power, but if we keep fighting we will win. People are recognizing that we are right. Once these governments fall and these fascists are chased into their holes we can build a new dignified world. Solidarity comrades!