Trump/Pence Clampdown Intensifies:

Ten Days of Vicious Moves Against the Rights and Lives of Black People, Immigrants, and Protesters

May 15, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


This past week, Trump and his administration have been embroiled in the controversy that has erupted in the wake of the firing of FBI Director James Comey. But the Trump/Pence regime is forging ahead with fascist moves—in particular, measures to surround and suppress Black and Latino people, immigrants, and other oppressed people. Among the moves in just the last 10 days under the fascist Trump/Pence regime:

1.      Enforcing Draconian War on Drugs Policies

On May 11, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo to U.S. attorneys across the country—directing them to pursue the most serious charges possible against people arrested for drug crimes and to reinstall the practice of mandatory minimum sentences. This means more people will go to prison and get much longer sentences. Sessions’ memo explicitly reverses a 2013 memo issued by Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, which told prosecutors to omit, in some cases, information about drug quantities, in order to not trigger long mandatory sentences and encourage shorter sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. The Holder memo also said defendants not part of large-scale drug trafficking organizations qualified for lesser charges and less prison time. Sessions’ memo will now trigger mandatory minimum sentences, typically tied to the quantity of drugs involved. It will implement the most draconian policies of the war on drugs—which have subjected people convicted of nonviolent, lower-level drug crimes to unfairly harsh sentences. For decades, such policies have been a huge factor feeding mass incarceration, disproportionately affecting Black and Latino people.

Now even more Black and Latino people, especially the youth condemned to America’s dungeons, will have their lives ruined and thrown away—spending years or decades behind bars, even for very minor drug offenses like possessing small amounts of weed. And this will continue to reverberate throughout Black and Latino communities—with families losing fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. This is a genocidal program.

2.      Moving to Take Away Voting Rights From Black and Brown People

Trump created a new commission on May 11 to investigate supposed voter fraud. Its real purpose: to promote voter suppression and validate Trump’s lie that three million people voted illegally in the 2016 election. Trump appointed Mike Pence, his Christian fascist vice president, and Kris Kobach, a notorious voting rights suppressor, to head the commission.

Efforts to suppress voting rights have historically targeted poor people and Black and other minority nationalities. Studies show that voter ID laws, requiring proof of citizenship, disproportionately affect Black and Latino people, who are more likely to be unable to get officially approved IDs or face other difficulties acquiring such documents. One study found that strict ID laws doubled the turnout gap between whites and Latinos in the general elections, and almost doubled the white-Black turnout gap in primary elections. State laws denying voting rights to those with criminal convictions have also disenfranchised millions of people and led to a situation where 13 percent of Black men have lost their right to vote.

Kobach is now poised as point man for the Trump/Pence regime’s move to suppress voting rights even more vigorously. Last year, a circuit court of appeals found Kobach had engaged in “mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right” by blocking 18,000 voter applicants from registering in Kansas, where he is secretary of state. Kobach is a big proponent of voter ID laws. In Kansas, African-Americans, who are six percent of the voting pool, are 18 percent of those lacking documents like birth certificates or passports. In 2010, when Kobach was a law professor, he drafted Arizona’s notoriously racist “show me your papers” law (since overturned in part as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court). This measure, targeting immigrants and Latinos, gave cops the power to demand proof of citizenship from anyone cops suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

The whole electoral process serves to draw people into the killing confines of this capitalist-imperialist system, and allows the rulers to claim they represent the “will of the people” as they carry out brutal exploitation and oppression here and around the world. But everybody should have the democratic right to vote, and it is an outrage that this right, which Black people and others fought and died for, is being denied.

3.      Clamping Down on Immigrants

On May 7, the Christian fascist governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, signed SB4, a viciously anti-immigrant law banning sanctuary cities, cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Trump had issued an executive order, now in the courts, threatening to cut federal funds from sanctuary cities. SB4 is the first law to make it mandatory for state police agencies to obey demands by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that a person jailed or detained for any reason be held until federal authorities check the person’s immigration status. The Texas law will mean more parents suddenly picked up and deported, their children not even knowing what happened to their mothers and fathers. Around the country, immigrants live with constant fear that they could be picked up at any time or place and be deported. In Towson, Maryland, ICE agents detained people coming out of the courthouse, including one immigrant who had just gone to pay a ticket for driving on a suspended license and was taken into custody.


4.      Criminalizing Peaceful Protest

Oklahoma took repressive measures against political protest to a new level, imposing draconian punishments on protesters convicted of minor infractions of the law. This is part of a wave of state laws criminalizing peaceful protest like marches, sit-ins, and encampments. Two new Oklahoma laws are in large part a vicious response to protests by Native Americans and others at Standing Rock and elsewhere for Native rights and around the environment. Nonpolitical trespass in Oklahoma had been a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a $250 fine; damaging or stealing property during trespass was punishable by a maximum of six months in jail. A new law makes trespassing while protesting at a so-called “critical infrastructure facility” (like a gas or oil facility) a felony, carrying up to a year in prison and a $10,000 fine. If property is damaged or facility operations are “impeded,” protesters can get up to 10 years in jail and a $100,000 fine. Organizations “found to be a conspirator” with protesters—a group calling a protest where civil disobedience or trespassing occurs—now face fines up to $1,000,000! A second bill (not yet a law) would subject anyone who “compensates” a protester (perhaps even by providing housing for someone later arrested) with civil liability (i.e., they could be sued for recovery of any damage the protester allegedly caused).

5.      Putting a Stamp of Approval on Police Murder of Alton Sterling

Last July, Baton Rouge cops murdered Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man, for the “crime” of selling DVDs outside a store. On May 3, the Department of Justice announced they will bring no federal charges against the killer cops, because the “law requires that the reasonableness of an officer’s use of force on an arrestee be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with added perspective of hindsight.” In other words, this wanton murder meets the standard of legal action by “reasonable” police. Hundreds of unarmed people, disproportionately Black and Brown, are killed by the cops every year, and the murdering police are almost always let off free. Now, the U.S. is led by a fascist regime that has declared 100 percent backing for cops and made clear they will not put even minimal limits on local police.

6.      Attacking Black Colleges and Universities

In a spending bill signed on May 5, Trump raised the possibility that federal funding will be blocked for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other programs such as Native American housing block grants. Trump suggested such funding is unconstitutional because it allocates benefits “on the basis of race, ethnicity, or gender.” Tucked away in the last paragraph of the bill, the White House announced it would treat a program that helps HBCUs get low-cost construction loans “in a manner consistent with the [constitutional] requirement to afford equal protection of the laws.” One reflection of discrimination and inequalities in education today is the fact that HBCUs have, on average, one-eighth of the endowment that white schools do. The U.S. Department of Education currently provides federally backed loans to HBCUs for the construction of buildings and other facilities. Now Trump has issued an open threat to deny such funding on the totally bullshit argument that these programs “discriminate” against white people.


If you turned on the news this past week, you might think the only thing happening is Trump’s firing of James Comey and the regime’s stark rejection of the rule of law—which IS an outrage. The media talks about the White House supposedly being “distracted” and in “disarray” with the controversy and infighting surrounding the Comey firing. But what is actually happening is the bolting into place of fascist measure after measure, on both the federal and state levels, as the Trump/Pence regime continues to aggressively push forward with its fascist onslaught.


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