As Part of Retaking the Political Offensive...

Defend the Defiant Ones of Ferguson

February 5, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Editor’s note: Ferguson. A small suburb of St Louis comes to stand for the refusal to accept the murder of a young unarmed Black youth at the hands of the police. When you ask youth from other parts of the country, they might not immediately recognize the name Ferguson but they all know “Mike Brown.” They know the people stood up—“Hands Up Don't Shoot!” The people of Ferguson, in particular those cast off and trapped at the bottom of this society, especially the youth, stood up in resistance and awakened hundreds of thousands of people. They changed the political and moral landscape in this country. They concentrate and symbolize the urgency and potential to wake up society to the epidemic of police murder and brutality that is daily lives of Black and Brown people everywhere in this country. The authorities are scared at what they see in embryo—a potential force for revolution.


February 5, 2015

Letter from a reader:

I want to call people's attention to heightened repression, including physical attacks against people active in the movement in the Ferguson/St. Louis area. By the end of 2014, there were already over 600 people arrested in Ferguson/St. Louis, a significant number of whom face serious felony charges. These attacks have continued to intensify. People everywhere need to have the backs of the courageous people of Ferguson.

Last November, when the grand jury refused to indict Darren Wilson after months of struggle, there was understandably a ferocious response to this outrage in Ferguson. Soon after, the authorities started an open-ended investigation of Mike Brown's stepfather for inciting a riot. Right around the time that the NY Times floated out that the federal government would not charge Darren Wilson for any crime, the local authorities released videotapes—videos taken from stores that were damaged the night that Wilson walked and which purportedly showed “looters.” The public is being urged to identify and turn those people in to the police. In a highly publicized case, a 19-year-old activist, prominently associated with the defiant ones, was arrested and charged with arson. The people who “step outside” the bounds of acceptable protest, especially among the youth are demonized and criminalized while police who commit cold-blooded murder walk.

There are other attacks where who or what is behind the attack is not obvious. On MLK Day, there was a march from Canfield Green memorial for Mike Brown to the Ferguson Police Department. Afterward, back at Canfield Green there were multiple shots fired from an unidentified source toward a group of people who had been part of the protest. Bullets struck a car which has been very visible in the protests for months in Ferguson. Others reported being narrowly missed. A young woman activist in the car was struck but not critically injured. People are left with questions and a bad taste afterward. Was this a wrong-headed attack from among the people who think people are somehow disrespecting them? Or is there something more sinister at work? Does the state and its operatives, of different kinds, have a hand in these attacks?

The point is not to speculate about who/what is involved in these recent attacks on activists. The point is that we should understand that the authorities use all kinds of ways to attack the resistance. People who bravely stood up to tanks and phalanxes of police can become confused and demoralized when the attack appears to come from among the masses, and that is exactly the point! (See the article "Important Lessons on Political Piggery: How FBI COINTELPRO Targeted Radical Groups")

Some Lessons from History

The police and other authorities like the FBI have a long, bloody history of behind-the-scenes maneuvering and dirty tricks that are aimed at fanning differences and creating antagonisms among the people, and people need to be alert to this and not let them get away with it.

Ferguson, August 16, Saturday night, protesting curfew

People in Ferguson, Missouri standing up together against the police murder of Mike Brown, August 16, 2014. Photo:

The authorities historically have done everything in their power to break down gang unity truces like those forged in the wake of the LA Rebellion in 1992. The gang turf mentality itself can lead people into doing what the system wants us to do, fight among each other. (One of the most inspiring things about Ferguson was the pictures of the youth with signs saying “Guns down for Mike Brown” and youth sporting red or blue colors standing shoulder to shoulder defiantly in the face of pigs with armored vehicles and machine guns trained on them.)

The authorities can instigate or turn a blind eye to the operatives of pro-police fascist and racist forces, including ones that have already been active in Ferguson like the Oath Keepers. Police also utilize informants and operatives from among the oppressed themselves, including people who they coerce into carrying out their dirty work.

Historically and down to today, the rulers have gone after both the organized forces for revolution and people who are newly gravitating to the movement for revolution in order to send a message loud and clear: “don't you dare think about getting rid of all this once and for all.” (See the article "The Ominous Attacks Against the RCP and Bob Avakian")

The enemy does all this to make people afraid, to divide and demoralize people, and to derail the resistance.

What can we do in response to all the enemy can throw at us? We need to transform the situation into one of deeper and stronger unity among the people in resisting the outrage of police murder in Ferguson/St. Louis and throughout the country. We need to build principled unity and draw in a growing number of people (not just in Ferguson but throughout the country) to take on and beat back the heightening repression and any attempts to sow dissension and foment disunity among those who have stepped forward to protest and resist police brutality and murder (and other outrages bound up with this). This in turn must be developed as one key front of the larger effort to more fully re-seize the political and ideological initiative and retake the political offensive, to have this protest and resistance become even much broader, deeper, and more determined. For revolutionaries, this also means working to win people to see how this interconnects with all the other oppressive outrages of this system and the solution to this through an actual revolution.

As an integral part of this, adopting some basic principles (standards) that the movement embraces could be very valuable in forging deeper unity that can stand up to all the various ways that the enemy will attack and in enabling those who are part of the resistance to sort out contradictions among the people and resolve them on the right basis and prevent them from being turned into or being used by the enemy to intimidate, derail and demoralize the movement. If people widely adhere to these and struggle for them, then it will be clearer if someone is doing the work of the enemy, and it will be possible to expose and keep it from causing havoc.

This is a proposal for adopting such principles. (I would urge that they be considered for adoption at the Stop Mass Incarceration Network's national meeting in Atlanta [or in its immediate wake], as well as shared with and adopted by others.)


As part of building the fight to STOP the outrage of police murder and brutality right now, many different people and political forces from different perspectives come together and make plans on how to unite in common struggle against a common enemy. And within that, there should be a spirit of lively wrangling over differences. If done in the right way, with largeness of mind and generosity of spirit, this kind of wrangling actually deepens the unity of any group or community of people working together.

At the same time, there should be and must be a few simple principles of what does NOT go in this movement. We recognize that the police and other authorities like the FBI have a long history of behind-the-scenes maneuvering and dirty tricks that are aimed at fanning differences and creating antagonisms among the people, and people need to be alert to this and not let them get away with pitting people against each other. (Learn about COINTELPRO.) By adhering to principles, it makes it much harder for the authorities to get away with such attacks.

We urge these principles be widely adopted:

Differences among people and groups should be struggled out in a principled way.

* There must not be physical threats, let alone physical attacks, against anyone in the movement to end these outrages.

* Do not make accusations that someone or some group is working with the police—being a provocateur or informant—without actual evidence.

* There are times when "working with the police" is necessary to negotiate permits, etc.; but in no instance is it ever permissible for people in struggle to finger, or turn over, others to the police or to speculate to the press—who often work closely with the authorities—about someone else in the movement. Such activity should actually be cause for barring people and individuals from the people's movements, until they renounce and change these practices.

Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.