Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

A Grim New Milestone: More than 10,000 Protesters Arrested Across the U.S.

The protests against police terror are being brutally repressed…by the police.

James Dennis Hoff

June 5, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

Last night the NYPD violently arrested hundreds of protesters in the Bronx borough of New York City just minutes after the 8pm curfew imposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and NY Governor Andrew Cuomo. These protesters had been peacefully marching against police brutality for hours without incident, but as soon as the curfew took effect, they were corralled by the NYPD, arrested en masse, and taken to jails across the city. While some were released early the next morning, many are still in custody thanks to a huge backlog of cases waiting to be processed from the previous day’s arrests. Well over 300 people were arrested in just one night. 

These protesters are being kept in cramped cells, where social distancing is impossible, and many are being punitively held sometimes for days before being processed. This means that many may likely leave detention with a death sentence simply for protesting. While most protesters have been charged with curfew violations, many are facing trumped up charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, unlawful assembly, and assault on a police officer. The idea that these protesters, who have been brutally attacked by police would be charged with assault for defending themselves is outrageous, and shows the essential injustice of our so-called justice system.   

New York City has taken an increasingly hard line against protesters in an attempt to squash the marches, but such incidents have been repeated almost nightly across the country as well. On Monday, more than 300 people were arrested in Washington D.C., on Tuesday, 127 protesters were arrested in Detroit, and as of Thursday more than 3,000 protesters have been arrested in Los Angeles, and 1,500 in Chicago. As of this morning it is being reported that the total number of protesters who have been arrested nationwide since the uprisings began now exceeds 10,000. And these are only the numbers that reporters have been able to document so far. Such mass arrests of protesters have not been seen in the U.S. since the Los Angeles uprisings in 1992, in which 11,000 people were arrested in protests across the country. 

This grim new milestone only further reveals the oppressive nature of the police and the state, neither of which has any interest beyond the perpetuation of capitalist exploitation under stable conditions of enforced consent. And it is imperative that working people everywhere reject these authoritarian tactics and demand the release of all political prisoners without charges. It is obvious that the curfews that have been imposed in New York and other cities are little more than a trap to draw out and punish the most militant layers of the movement, which every day becomes more and more radicalized. The NYPD and other police forces across the country believe the threat of violence and arrest will be enough to undermine and shut down these protests, but as we have seen everywhere this approach has been used, such tactics have only emboldened protesters and increased the number of people taking to the streets. 

At the same time that they are cracking down on curfew violations, mayors across the country have been offering concessions as well. In Minneapolis, for instance, the City Council is considering measures to disband the police force, and in Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti has agreed to cutting the LAPD budget by more than $100 Million in response to the protests. This figure is of course, far too small considering the proposed LAPD budget for 2021 exceeds 1.5 Billion. And of course, it is the height of hypocrisy to pretend that such cuts are meant to curtail police violence and not merely balance the city budget in a moment of economic crisis and uncertainty. But these responses, which other city mayors and city councils have also embraced, show that the state is afraid and is willing to use the whole arsenal of carrots and sticks to quell unrest and eventually force the reopening of the economy. This shows that militant, disruptive protests can win demands. 

While it is likely that repressive measures, including more massive arrests of peaceful protesters are likely to proliferate in the coming weeks and months, how the movement will respond remains to be seen. However it seems possible that the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic collapse will only add fire to these protests. Just this week, almost two million more Americans filed for unemployment, and millions have still not received benefits they applied for weeks ago. It is only a matter of time before the calls for racial justice in the streets grow to include calls for broader economic and social change including employment and the abolition of the police. Regardless, it seems clear that protesters, at least for the short term, have no intentions of backing down. 

Facebook Twitter Share

James Dennis Hoff

James Dennis Hoff is a writer, educator, labor activist, and member of the Left Voice editorial board. He teaches at The City University of New York.

Twitter

United States

Three activists stand together while one activist holds up an "uncommitted" sign with the word "vote" written on it many times. In the left side of the picture another activist holds a sign that says "abandon Genocide Joe"

Don’t Vote Uncommitted — Commit to Breaking with the Democrats

Tapping into deep anger with President Biden, the left wing of the Democratic Party is urging Michigan voters to vote “uncommitted” in the primary election. But this strategy funnels progressives’ energy back into the Democratic party when we need political independence from the parties supporting the genocide in Gaza.

Brian H. Silverstein

February 27, 2024

The Organic Crisis in 2024: This Year’s Election Is a Battle for the Hearts and Minds of U.S. Workers

The battle between Trump and Biden is being shaped by a crisis of the political regime, requiring the intervention of both the judiciary and the union bureaucracy. The battle for the presidency is a battle for the working class and a battle over which approach to imperialism is best for competing with China and reestablishing US hegemony. As usual, the Democrats are taking up the cudgel of democratic rights in order to rally disaffected voters.

Sybil Davis

February 23, 2024
A NYPD officer arrests a masked pro-Palestine protestors wearing a kaffiyeh while other cops and masked protesters look on.

Attacks on the Pro-Palestine Movement Are Attacks on the Right to Protest

As the movement for Palestine against Israel’s brutal military invasion of Gaza and attacks on the West Bank continues at a lower intensity than last fall, the State is cracking down on the leaderships of the movement and rolling back gains made by the Black Lives Matter uprising of 2020. The movement must grow in order to fight back against repression and protect our democratic right to protest.

Carmin Maffea

February 10, 2024

When Columbia Students Are Under Attack, We Must Stand Up, Fight Back!

On January 19, two Columbia University students who are former Israeli Defense Forces soldiers attacked students with a chemical-based weapon called “skunk,” at a campus protest against the genocide of Palestinians. Students must unite with workers to defend our movement; from Palestine to Low, the attacks have got to go!

K.S. Mehta

February 2, 2024

MOST RECENT

Protesters at an evening protest in NY carry a sign that reads "from ferguson to palestine occupation is a crime"

This Black History Month, Let’s Fight for Palestinian Liberation

Black liberation struggles have always expressed solidarity with the struggle against the Zionist occupation of Palestine. This Black History Month, as Israel continues its genocide in Gaza, this tradition takes on a special importance.

Carmin Maffea

February 26, 2024
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: Two Years of War in Ukraine

On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the war in Ukraine after two years, and the continued need for an independent, working-class solution.

Left Voice

February 24, 2024

The Tide Is Turning: New Yorkers Are Speaking Out for Palestinian Liberation

New York's anti-zionist movement is is rising up and speaking out for Palestinian liberation.

Ana Orozco

February 23, 2024

The United States Is Trapped in the Middle East

As a result of Israel’s offensive on Gaza, the United States is again becoming deeply entrenched in the Middle East. This is a humiliating blow to President Biden, who promised to reassert U.S. imperialism by moving away from direct involvement in the region.

Samuel Karlin

February 22, 2024