July 4:
Beautiful, Defiant Protests and Flag-Burnings Go Up Against Trump’s Fascist, White Supremacist “Make America Great Again” Ugliness

| revcom.us


July 4 is a day when the blood-soaked foundations of America built on genocide and slavery and its history of conquest and imperialist domination around the world are celebrated as “greatness.” And now in 2020, it’s a day when the fascist-in-chief on top of this empire is further ramping up the monstrous agenda of his regime—under the banner of “Make America Great Again”—posing urgent and grave dangers to all of humanity and the planet.

But this July 4 was not just marked by this fascist atrocity on top of the usual “USA, USA” ugliness. In a way not seen in a long time, this July 4 was marked by thousands in the streets across the country, NOT in celebration of America but in opposition to the whole way this system does people—in particular the police murders and violence against Black people and the systemic oppression of people of color, of women, of LGBQT people, and immigrants. On this day, people in cities around the country defiantly went into the streets in the face of the Trump/Pence regime’s rabid but very real threats of violent repression against protesters. This included Washington, DC, where the Trump/Pence regime was holding an ultra-jingoistic celebration of America and its military power. People are continuing to bring down monuments of slaveowners, colonizers and other reactionaries—on July 4, a statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore was pulled down and thrown into the harbor.1

Very importantly, in many places the July 4 outpouring included people acting in response to the call from Refuse Fascism to be out in the streets to demand “TRUMP/PENCE OUT NOW!”

And the revcoms sharpened up the July 4 protests and helped to bring the struggle to a higher level with actions highlighted by the burning of American flags. As part of his intensifying fascist moves, Trump had recently declared that burning the American flag should be made illegal—which in effect would mean overturning the Supreme Court Texas v. Johnson ruling that affirmed that flag burning is constitutionally protected political speech. Joey Johnson, the defendant in that case, and a member of the Revolution Club, had declared, “I am determined to defy Trump on July 4th by burning an American flag at a fitting symbol of Trump and his fascist regime.” He called on everyone who opposes the crimes of the U.S. empire to join him.

And flags did go up in flames this July 4—including at the Trump “star” at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in front of the Trump Tower in New York City, and not far from the White House in Washington, DC!

1. Columbus did not “discover” the Americas—which had been inhabited by indigenous peoples for thousands of years—but he did bring conquest and enslavement and started off one of the most massive genocides in human history. See the American Crime series article on Columbus. [back]

Revcoms Lead Others in Torching the American Flag

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.: Burning the Flag Right Near the White House

From a snapshot sent to revcom by a member of the Revolution Club and a member of Refuse Fascism:

In Washington DC, we hosted two separate actions—one, a rally and speak-out with Refuse Fascism (RF) on Black Lives Matter Plaza and another, the #flagburningchallenge as close to the White House as we could get on the same street. The speak-out design was an 8 ft x 12 ft American flag laid on the ground with a microphone on top. People enthusiastically danced over the flag and about a dozen people spoke, while 60-100 people gathered throughout the program. Most of what was shared was bitterness towards the country & the President, the lack of "real' accountability and action by the government, corporations, and other leaders… During the RF demo, Jamel from the Club came up to agitate for the need to drive out Trump and Pence from the perspective of making a revolution to end the oppression of Black and Brown people—and to take up the #flagburningchallenge today as part of properly displaying an American flag—and getting with the revolution.

We led the crowd of about 50 people in a march from BLM Plaza over closer to the White House. Everyone following our group was given the fold and tear flyers, ready to fold and burn the half with the American flag. As the group approached the White House fence and lined up ready to light the flags, this group quickly moved in to stop what was happening—they specifically targeted our group, with Jamel at the center. We called for people to form a circle around Jamel and protected him from attack by this group who claimed we shouldn't "give the media what they want." We made flag burning and their behavior a mass question, called on people to do what they know is right—and torch that rag. People continued to burn their fold and tears and small flags we distributed in groups and circles everywhere near the front fence. Despite the contention building, and once all 300 flag flyers we distributed were burned, folks were eager to also burn the 8' x 12' flag that was left behind where the rally and speak out were happening. There were arguments breaking out everywhere at a certain point not just about flag burning, but where this movement needed to go, and what kind of movement it was actually going to take. And so folks grabbed the BIG ASS flag, brought it to the center of action, and burned that too, which was majorly covered in press and media.

Talking to revcom.us, Jamel said, “Today, on July 4 we took up the call from Joey Johnson, the flag burning challenge in the face of the White House and in the face of Trump’s military style celebration at the White House. We expected to be met by resistance from pigs, but found it instead from some in the crowd. We righteously both challenged and invited people to be part of what it would actually take to create a world where Black Lives Matter. And to imagine this. And that starts with imagining the end of America and burning that rag.”

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Los Angeles: Joey Johnson and others spoke at Sunset/Cahuenga [in Hollywood] and we marched to the [Trump] star and did the burnings of the three flags [American flag, Confederate flag, and the pro-pig “blue lives matter” flag]. Then, since there was more freedom, we burned a second American flag and invited others up to disrespect the flag or burn a couple smaller ones there… a woman in a Revolution—Nothing Less shirt… came up to burn a flag and said something like “fuck U.S. imperialism.”… A number of people who were at the protest came to MacArthur Park afterwards, and other people who didn’t go to the protest or missed it also came to the park… There was a nice display of American Crimes [from revcom.us] and a good speech by Noche, then a speak-out element of people talking about why they were there / why they wanted to burn the flag. And we played two BA clips from the Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! speech and the video on the 1921 Tulsa massacre from Revolution—Nothing Less YouTube show.

Joey Johnson was the subject of a July 1 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, “This man made flag burning legal.” The Times published letters to the editor in response to the column, both for and against flag burning—including from Johnson himself, who wrote that the piece was “accurate and fair” but that he wanted to “correct one possible misimpression—the idea that the movement for revolution has no actual alternative. There is a Constitution authored by Revolutionary Communist Party Chairman Bob Avakian for the new socialist republic we aim to establish, and Avakian has also developed a strategy through which millions can be mobilized, as conditions develop, to make revolution.”

New York City

New York City: About 60 people took part in the #BurnTheFlag challenge called by the Revolution Club in New York City, with many burning flags of their own outside Trump Hotel in Columbus Circle and again at Trump Tower. Carl Dix and a member of the Revolution Club spoke about the whole history of America of why this was nothing to celebrate, and everything America stands for and what it does in the world, drawing from BA's new statement & also doing this as part of going up against the bloated bag of fascist feces in the White House, to repudiate him and invite people to imagine a world without America without everything it stands for and does in the world, and to make this real, were called to not only burn this flag but to get into the revolution. Many people eagerly took up the flags burning challenge, and I mean eager, and spoke about why they themselves felt compelled to come out… And people spoke to how they have been heartened by people standing up against all of this, and inspired by people together to indict all the 5 stops2 and the need for unity. We read the points of attention and called on people if they agreed with these points to come to the front and get a t-shirt. About 7 new people did - including people who have been working with the club and reading BAsics. And then we marched to Trump Tower with great ferocity, hands clapping & chanting "1,2, 3, 4, Slavery Genocide and War, 5,6,7,8 America Was Never Great!” and “Revolution—Nothing Less."

2. 5 STOPS are five horrific forms of oppression under this system that can not be reformed away. See “What is 5-2-6? The 5 STOPS, the 2 Choices, and the 6 Points of Attention.” [back]

Chicago: The Revolution Club, Chicago joined Refuse Fascism's July 4 protest held in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. Logan Square is on the northwest side of Chicago. The area where the protest was held is a predominantly white, and middle class area filled with millennials, many with small children. A bit further west, the neighborhood includes lots of Latinos… Before the rally, Club members distributed their leaflet calling on youth caught up in killing and dying on the streets of Chicago to lift their sights and get into the revolution… The rally was short and was MC'd by Void from the Revolution Club. One of the drummers performed his song “The Trump Regime Has Got to Go.” The rally was closed out by Paul Street leading people in taking the RF pledge… After the rally, the crowd, which had grown to about 75 people, took off on a spirited march through the neighborhood… When the marchers returned to the rally site some culminating points were conveyed from Refuse Fascism and the MC announced that the Revolution Club would be taking up the call issued by Joey Johnson to burn a flag. Chanting “1, 2, 3, 4 Slavery Genocide and War, 5, 6, 7, 8, American Was Never Great!” 2 club members, surrounded by a security perimeter of other club members, set the flag aflame. The crowd cheered and many, many came in close to take photos. As it burned Niko from the Revolution Club called out “This flag stands for imperialism, this flag stands for the genocide of Black and Brown people.” A second flag was also burned.


Refuse Fascism: TRUMP/PENCE OUT NOW!

On July 4, people in different cities around the country acted with new urgency on the call from Refuse Fascism (RF) for people to take to the streets in growing numbers to demand “The Trump/Pence Regime Must GO!” As RF pointed out: “America is at a serious crossroads. A fierce struggle for the future in underway.” A CNN report on a range of protests on the 4th “demonstrating about racism, police brutality and President Donald Trump” included noting that “protests from a group called Refuse Fascism were planned for the day in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC.”

The following are reports on some of the Refuse Fascism protests that took place on July 4.

In New York about 75 protesters joined RF in a march to Trump Tower, chanting “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA,” the bright orange banner, “Trump/Pence Out Now” stretched across the street. At Trump Tower people brought out a life-size cardboard figure of a “Trump statue” that had been made by some artists, with small ropes attached at the top. Chanting, “Tear Down Trump, Tear Down Trump” people grabbed the ropes and pulled it down – adding this to the long list of hated white supremacist, racist, oppressors that have become the target of the people’s hatred and had their statues torn down. At Columbus Circle the RF statement on July 4 was read out loud by a professional actress and then as the march continued, the torn-down Trump “statue” was dragged through the streets.

In the evening report CBS News in Philadelphia, the news anchor started by saying, “July 4th celebrations had a different tone in Philadelphia this year.” The reporter began with a video of RF marching through the streets chanting, “1,2,3,4, Slavery, Genocide, and War – 5,6,7,8 Amerikkka was never great” and then interviews Sam Goldman from RF who said, “The entire fascism regime in power right now imperils all of humanity – the lives of people in this country and all around the world and the future of our very planet itself.... [Trump] wants to drag this country back to its darkest moments in history and exact revenge on anyone and everyone who dares to rise up. It is up to us, in the streets, in our millions to drive this regime from power.”

Washington, D.C.

In Washington D.C., RF marched and had a speak-out, and hundreds of people were confronted and challenged by Refuse Fascism’s message. As part of the action, the Revolution Club set up a microphone and mike stand on top of a huge 8 x 12 foot flag and invited people to make their statements standing on the flag, an invitation which dozens of people took up to speak bitterness.

The bright orange RF banner also stretched across a major street in Los Angeles, with a large crowd marching behind. During the rally the Refuse Fascism pledge was read as a call and response from the crowd, reaffirming people’s commitment to take to the streets and stay in the streets until the Trump/Pence Regime is driven down.

Los Angeles

In Chicago, about 75 people marched behind the RF banner through the Logan Square neighborhood. A drum corps added to the spirit of the march, keeping rhythm with the chants. People then rallied at the Square and a drum circle did an original song/composition, “Fuck Trump!” Both Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club spoke powerfully to the crossroads we're facing and the escalation in Trump's outrageous speech the night before at Mt. Rushmore.

In San Francisco, RF marched through the largely Latino Mission District. The rally included a representative of United Native Americans, whose members were involved in the Alcatraz takeover, the standoff at Wounded Knee and the action where people climbed to the top of Mount Rushmore and reclaimed it for the Lakota Nation.

San Francisco Mission District

In Houston, Refuse Fascism did a car caravan through the 3rd Ward, a traditional center of the Black community. There were not a lot of people out in the streets because of the Covid-19 crisis. But the caravan led by a truck with the #outnow banners created a stir in the community. As the caravan drove through, some cars pulled over, people took video and people clapped, waved, and raised their fists.


There were also RF protestors joining with Black Lives Matter protests in Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, and Seattle, bringing out the call for “TRUMP/PENCE OUT NOW!”

In the press:

This year’s coverage of July 4 in print and online media across the United States and internationally was different.  It wasn’t just flag waving and “USA USA USA”.  Articles from cities large and small reported that this year people were in the streets calling out the long history of white supremacy and racism against Black, Brown and Native peoples. Front and center in this coverage were chants of 'American was never great!' and the burning of the American flag in Washington, D.C, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere.  Here’s a sample of this coverage.

Washington, DC: 

Los Angeles: 

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Thousands Continue the Upsurge Against Police Murder and Oppression of Black and Other People

The day before the 4th, Native American and other protesters went up against the National Guard and police to challenge Trump’s Nazi rally at Mt. Rushmore (see Native Americans Protest Trump Rally Held on Stolen Land).

On the 4th, Black Lives Matter protests took place in many dozens of cities across the country, big and small. Here are just a few of the protests from the day:

Washington, DC: There were several different actions. Protesters marched from Black Lives Matter plaza (near the White House) to near the base of the Washington Monument, moving onto the National Mall between all the people sitting on the grass waiting to watch the fireworks. At different points there were tense confrontations between protesters and Trump supporters. One person tweeted: “Riot police confronting protesters on the National Mall — fully geared up with batons, shields and all — while fireworks boom in the sky with patriotic music blaring might be the ultimate snapshot of where we are as a country right now.” There was also a sit-in organized by law students from Howard University and University of D.C. The goal of the protest, according to organizers was to bring attention to the Black women and Black transgender women who they said are killed at the same rates as Black men.

Chicago: A tweet from the demonstration in the downtown Loop area said: “Happening now downtown. To keep count right now there’s an action on the south side, resistance training on the west side and an action occurring downtown all for #FuckThe4th #DefundCPD #EquityOr Else.” There was also an organized protest in the street of people on bikes and skateboards.

Los Angeles: Members of indigenous groups joined forces with Black Lives Matter organizers and other demonstrators. About 400 people rallied. Signs called for the abolishment of ICE, and justice for George Floyd and others who have been killed by the police. One indigenous leader pointed out that COVID-19 wasn’t the first plague to visit this continent – that the Europeans “brought many pandemics” to the people of the Americas. He went on to say that instead of celebrating with fireworks, people should understand “the many lies” taught to American youth that prop up white supremacy at the cost of all native peoples and minorities. He also called on Black Lives Matter to join the indigenous movement and then forcefully said, “Black lives matter.”

Brooklyn, New York: From a massive protest stretching for many blocks in Brooklyn, someone tweeted, “This is how you celebrate the 4th. Massive#BlackLivesMatter march in Brooklyn right now. /this movement isn’t going anywhere.” The video shows streets filled with protesters for many, many blocks.

Philadelphia: There were at least three BLM protests—against police brutality at the Fed Plaza, another against the Columbus statue on the far south side, and a third was a massive bicycle protest. At a “Protest Police Terror” rally organizers broadcast a statement from political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal who has been in prison since 1981 on trumped up charges for the killing of a cop. Pam Africa, of the activist group MOVE, called for the release of Abu-Jamal

Oakland: Tweet about the BLM protest said “Best way to celebrate the 4th of July. Fighting for freedom and justice,” and “Day 37 of Oakland #GeorgeFloyd protests and Black Lives Matter Movement: this is a loud one.” A rally of hundreds demanded justice for those incarcerated, and for the Black lives lost to police. People also spoke out in support of the solidarity for the nation of Palestine, as well as the LGBTQ and Indigenous communities.

Minneapolis: Thousands of people dressed in black marched through downtown calling for racial justice and an end to police killings of Black people. After a rally, protesters marched through downtown, at different points, kneeling at intersections to honor those killed by the cops. Earlier in the day, there was a Roll 4 Justice with about 200 people on roller skates, roller blades, bicycles or on foot proceeding to the rally at Minneapolis City Hall.

Nashville, Tennessee: Thousands marched in a protest organized by a group of local teens. The pigs arrested 55 people on BS charges. At the end of the protest, people gathered on the steps of the Legislative Plaza for a moment of silence and a vigil for those who have been killed by police. The mothers of Jocques Clemmons and Daniel Hambrick shared an embrace with each other as people chanted their sons’ names, both killed by cops.

Young women organizers of July 4 rally in Nashville, Tennessee.

Burlington, Vermont: More than 1,000 came together in a rally organized by the Black Perspective, a Vermont group dedicated to supporting minorities, and others. A member of Black Perspective described what the Fourth of July means for a “21st-century slave”: “It’s just another day in the American nightmare... American history is black history, yet we never learned about the slave-owners that spent centuries raping black women, long enough to give me my last name. We never learned that the same act of patriotism, embedded in the Declaration of Independence is what led to the lynching of 3,446 black bodies.”

More than a thousand people at a rally organized by various groups in Burlington, Vermont.

And the beautiful rising of the people continues… the day after July 4, protestors in Philadelphia marched on to an interstate highway and righteously shut it down.



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