If withholding U.S. military aid from a neo-Nazi friendly government in Ukraine is unacceptable, then it is only logical that a fascist police surge on Black and Brown communities in the U.S. is acceptable. Until the threat of war between the U.S. and Iran stole what had been central in media attention, the power elite worked to keep the public fixated on the antics of a useless partisan impeachment. All the while career politicians in the Democratic Party have been betraying their constituents with their typical and deafening silence about a police crackdown by the Trump administration that Donald Trump himself dubbed “The Surge.”
Trump. War-monger abroad; war-monger at home. Photo: Gage Skidmore
Concerns about Trump’s overt racism by Democratic Party leadership and the media are fake. He first announced his plan for a nationwide crackdown on “violent crime” and for a more militarized police on October 28, 2019 in his remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago. The only news stories corporate media thought worthy of reporting then were about Trump slinging insults at Chicago and its former superintendent of police, Eddie Johnson. And whatever stories there have been since seem to leave out “The Surge” entirely.
“In coming weeks, Attorney General Barr will announce a new crackdown on violent crime, which I think is so important — targeting gangs and drug traffickers in high crime cities and dangerous rural areas,” Trump said. “Let’s call it, ‘The Surge.’ We can come up with lots of names, but we’re going to be doing something that’s very dramatic, headed up by our great Attorney General. And you’re going to see tremendous results very quickly.”
As promised, more details for this structurally racist and anti-working class plan–called Operation Relentless Pursuit–were announced by Attorney General William Barr on December 18th. It is described as “an initiative aimed at combating violent crime in seven of America’s most violent cities through a surge in federal resources.” The cities are Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Memphis, and Milwaukee.
We can safely bet the deeper and more menacing implications of this plan will get a bi-partisan pass. None of the major presidential candidates or elected officials have touched the underlying issues, let alone pointed out its connections to U.S. militarization across the planet.
In fact, 188 Democrats who pretend to resist Trump, handed him $738 billion for the military in December that includes a “Space Force,” proving they serve the imperial state, not their constituents. The unspoken role of the U.S. military and police is to control and contain the populations politically marginalized by–and now economically redundant to–the global neoliberal order. Root causes of crime and violence–or “extremist terrorism” for that matter–cannot be addressed by this order. Which has been intensifying through what Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report has warned is a global race to the bottom.
“To help keep you safe, I have made 600 million dollars’ worth of surplus military equipment available to local law enforcement,” Trump said in October. The transfer of military equipment to law enforcement is consistent with DOD’s 1033 program that dates back to 1990. Trump’s numbers are conservative compared to the value of military equipment transferred by Obama to the domestic occupying army called the police. In his remarks Trump distorted Barack Obama’s support for the program responsible for most of the equipment transferred, by suggesting Obama didn’t support it.
Under Obama, 1033 experienced a 2,400% increase. The only changes he made to it were cosmetic and were toward the latter part of his second term. He curtailed the transfer of certain “heavy equipment” and certain kinds of ammunition that had no impact on the program overall. When Trump reversed Obama’s modifications of the 1033 program, the liberal press acted as if some great policy change had occurred, but failed to mention how the program was expanded under the first Black president.
Now Trump’s “surge” is being met with bi-partisan complicity. It must be understood that the U.S.A. is a white settler colonial regime, built on the bones of indigenous and formerly enslaved African populations. Settler colonialism is the primary tie that binds the U.S. and Israel. “One of the most dangerous places where the regimes of Trump and Netanyahu [Prime Minister of Israel] converge are in exchange programs that bring together police, ICE, border patrol, and FBI from the US with soldiers, police, border agents, etc from Israel.” This program has been appropriately dubbed, “Deadly Exchange.”
The intersecting factors of race, class and patriarchy are laid bare when the dots are connected between the 1033 program and bi-partisan support for the obscene and steadily rising military budget, the 800 military bases in foreign countries, and legislation like the Blue Lives Matter Bill that makes “assault” on a police officer a hate crime and a federal offense.
The culture of affinity for police emboldens more overt racism by them. A couple of months ago a Montgomery County, Maryland police department tried displaying the flag of the Blue Lives Matter movement, a national organization made up of police and their supporters formed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
No matter how many cases of murderous police brutality there are, each is treated like an isolated incident by media and policymakers, despite the daily assaults on Black bodies and dignity by cops across the country.
U.S. fascism has been on a steady increase ever since the Nixon administration declared the so-called War on Drugs. Racist urban offensives like Trump’s surge always mean more repression of the Black and Brown working class. That’s why we have to educate our people to oppose the domestic military surge, the training of U.S. police forces by the Israeli state, and to struggle to shut down the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). We must demand that elected officials take an unequivocal public position on these issues. Eighty percent of the Congressional Black Caucus supported militarizing the police.
The Black Alliance for Peace is demanding to know where Black elected officials at every level of government stand by requiring them to fill out this pledge form. Help us make these politicians accountable to the people.
A version of this article was first published on Black Agenda Report.