[thingist] we breathe again

sebastian at rolux.org sebastian at rolux.org
Tue Jun 9 11:49:09 UTC 2020

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"We know from history, no force is unbeatable"

Appeared in Monday, June 8, 2020 (Monday, June 246, 2020)

May 25, 2020: another image of police brutality on the internet, this time a
small eye shaped tab covers it discreetly, the image is blurred and the digital
giants - adding their little "benevolent" personal censorship - warn me of the
violence of the images I am likely to see. Two months of immobility watching
police violence without being able to react, without being able to share my
suffering and despair. Two months of powerlessness to balance between denial
and exposure, between a necessary protection and a will to know, in a
relationship more than ever bulimic to militant news. I hesitate and I pass, I
don't click to launch the video, I don't have the courage.

As the cops took to the streets, images of smears swarmed on the internet, the
more the police heads took over the public space, the more the police figure
dominated online. Apart from private space - and still not for everyone - all
living spaces during the lockdown, real or virtual, were saturated by the image
of an all-powerful police force. Social networks, the dominant media, but also
activists, became the echo chamber of this double symbolic and physical
violence. Locked up, inactive, on all screens, the inhuman brutality of the
condoms resounds through our optical nerves: in our eyes, our computers and our
dreams. The muzzle that falls like a whip on a poor madman who has escaped from
the asylum and the door that opens on the passage of a motorbike, the lethal
gestures of the cops settle in our imagination and amaze us, taken as we are in
our loneliness and our incapacity.

The robotic, untouchable, imperturbable army of the immobile lines of CRS or
the shattering irruption of the BRAVs - which we have experienced, put into
images or seen - comes to bring down in our inner self the sketches of
uncontrolled revolts, muscle relaxation and inconsiderate gestures. The
impunity of the police figure that haunts the internet, haunts us and
temporarily breaks our rebellion. Inheritors of an impasse in critical
thinking, we continue to underestimate the power of images, and create
ourselves the oppressive images of the invulnerability of the police.

Yet, as we know from history, no force is unbeatable - think of the royal power
invested with the divine: who would dare at the time to attack God's
representative on earth - and we know from experience, the police are sometimes
vulnerable. Contrary to the claims of security ideology, there is always a flaw
in the system, always a mistake or a passage, never the militarization of
existence, despite its stupid claims, will ever be total.

Only sometimes fear wins us over and the irrational overrides reason, the
magical police figure alienates us more than ever, the all-police man bewitches
us, he keeps us wise and mute. I take refuge, I flee and the mechanisms of
psychic self-defence are activated, I don't want to see or hear anything
anymore. Meanwhile, we beat up outside, we beat up in our neighbourhoods, we
beat up, for nothing, for race, for pleasure, for power.

And the pride of the dominant spreads out from his disgusting rightness. I
can't breathe. Everywhere their petty stories during the lockdown, their little
fake problems, their world "after" even more disgusting and unfair than the one
"before". It's suffocating. Their new and comfortable justifications for daily
repression. Their untenable indifference to the oppressed, letting them go into
the most banal and vile racism. We suffocate in the neighbourhoods, we
suffocate in the cities, we suffocate with the police boot on George Floyd's
neck, on the necks of blacks, on the necks of activists, on the necks of our
comrades. He can't breathe, I can't breathe, we all hold our breath.

But finally George Floyd will never breathe again, the police kill in full
light, live. A stranger's neck is crushed in Minneapolis and blows rain down on
friends in Paris. Always humanists, the police beat, maim and kill... to save
lives. Then the anguish takes over, our breathing gets excited, old marks are
revealed, bad memories come back: I am handcuffed - I wear my hands around my
neck -. What if he had tightened the handcuffs? What if he had continued? Maybe
I'd have died too, just like Floyd. Except he let go of me and sent my head
against the hood of their car. "Save," why? Cause I'm white? Maybe, although
these days what they call "black" blocks tend to be prime targets for armed
racist peacekeepers.

Let us also remember the new High Court of Clichy, an immense ultra-modern maze
with a fascist aesthetic where the scoundrel laws are applied, a building
besieged by tens of thousands of demonstrators on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. The
building visible from all over Paris is only the top of the iceberg of
repression, underneath it hides the black part of the pacified world, in its
basement: the "depot". A veritable clean dungeon, under the glassed and
luminous court of resplendent justice, a gigantic, sanitized and inhuman prison
unfolds. Going "to the depot" - while waiting for an immediate appearance for
example - is like paying a visit to the other side of the modern world, to a
penitentiary universe where humans are treated like animals: abandoned in
individual cells for an indeterminate period of time, up to 48 hours, everyone
there screams in rage and hits their bars in distress. The policemen are the
lords and devils, the prisoners, stripped of their rights, defenceless. The
depot is a good example of what can be prison, the CRAs or the madhouse. I saw
there the reality of this racist world where eighty percent of the prisoners
are racist people who are regularly subjected to this punitive treatment:
gardav, depot, prison.

Escorted by two policemen, I am taken to an office where I have to sign in at
the depot, I ask for a lawyer and a doctor, both are not on my file, I refuse
to go back to my cell but the cop threatens me and says to his colleagues in a
threatening way: "Hey guys, the black block doesn't want to sign in". As I go
to get my blanket, I witness a chilling scene: two fat white cops shouting
orders, in a language he can't understand, to a half-naked migrant, shaking
like a leaf. Tears run down his dirty cheeks. In this "other" world, certainly
dystopian, for those who live in it or pass through it, shouting the slogan:
"cop, rapist, murderer" does not sound like an exaggeration or a mere
watchword, but a cathartic ritual, a vital necessity.

We would like to scream at the top of our lungs, but we are out of breath, we
can't breathe, we are suddenly alone. On the other side of the world, a black
man has died, who will remember him in this dark time? He will join the long
funeral procession of the forgotten oppressed, and the image of his unpunished
murder will be added to the symbolic weapons of the police. We will remain
there, with our images and our regrets, our rage and our pain will be covered
with ruins.

Fortunately, the uprisings will bring us relief. They make the rage explode and
we throw the pain overboard, we share the suffering with comrades and
executioners, we put it in front of the indifferent, we transform it and share
it together. Also the uprisings give reason to those raised before, against
media sorting, against forgetting, against renunciation, the raised support
each other psychically, they ensure the continuity of a power.

Thus in 2019, after the unpunished death of RĂ©mi Fraisse, the mutilations and
wounded of the social movements and the expulsions of the zads, the defeat at
Notre-Dame-des-Landes, comes the Yellow Vests movement. In 2020, after the
repression of the movement against pension reform, the massacre of the
Gilets-Jaunes, the unacceptable death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter

In each new uprising, what is at stake is the mental health of the activists,
their capacity to fight over a long period of time - necessary for important
transformations such as the removal of the police institution -, the security
of the populations who have always been disarmed in the face of the police or
their new targets. Here, the current uprising, if it is an epidermal reaction
against police violence, if it is a movement for the emancipation of ethnic
minorities, if it is an anti-racist movement, whatever happens, it is fighting
for all the victims of police violence, and they are very numerous. In reality,
it also fights for the "Youth from the suburbs", for the "ultra-left" activists
and the criminalized Yellow Vests, as well as for the repressed trade unionists.

The more the Black Lives Matter movement spreads, the more the images of these
actions spread, the more the images of barricades in front of the White House
and of fires arrive in Europe.

The images of the uprisings heal us, it is no longer our powerlessness that is
running in a loop on the social networks, but our power. The world is no longer
connected to images of French policemen throwing a racist person in the breast
with insults dating back to the Algerian war, but to African-Americans setting
fire to the cars of the racist American state. No longer on advertising
presentations of police drones by the proto-fascist town hall of Nice, but on
demonstrators on horseback raising their fists; a police station burning down,
a construction machine used as a battering ram, a heroic boxer demonstrator,
monster demonstrations in all the major Western cities ... so many images that
give us back our power of action, that frighten the leaders and that circulate
our collective intelligence.

We know that a struggle of representations accompanies our struggle, but there
is a lot of confusion about it. Let's just say that for each creation of a
police drone image, we need an image of a drone shot down with a roll of toilet
paper; for each beating, a stoning, etc., we need an image of a police drone.
An audiovisual rule that also supposes that before making images you have to
create the necessary situation, and see the satisfactory result: when only one
car burns and all the media use the image, individual repression is very strong
(as in the case of the Valmy dock), when hundreds of cars burn, you are already
more quiet.

And then surprise, populations are set ablaze when you least expect it: banned
demonstrations, covid19, totalitarian health measures, permanent emotional
blackmail, and now tens of thousands of young people, in all the big cities of
France, decide not to let it go on any longer and to change the fear of the

The uprisings heal us, we find our brothers and sisters, our comrades, we can
finally get our breath back and scream at the top of our lungs, we can clear
the police boots that compel us. Show our strength to the police institution
and its defenders, threaten the state power with a popular counter-power. We
breathe again. And in these processions that are so pleasantly socially mixed,
the images create dialectical sparks: the image of Athenians attacking an
American embassy in Molotov reminds us of historical elements and the
imaginations open up to the possibilities of the past. There are more links in
these global revolts with the 1970s - a period when feminist, anti-racist and
anti-capitalist movements were even more powerful - with images of the Black
Panthers and their allies than with the television images of the "suburban
revolt" of 2005. With this uprising and the images it creates, the dominant
images are far away now, and we can hope that they will lead to their
disappearance, the multiple exotic - and partly racist - fantasies of the
supposed alliance of the revolutionary movement with the suburbs.

We breathe better. But an uprising is not a revolution, and experience teaches
us this too, the breath is exhausted by only breathing during uprisings and
holding the rest of the time in apnea. The question is always the same: how to
become solid, how to hold on in time, how to organize ourselves, how to no
longer run out of air?

If for the time being the situation is not under control by the government, the
media remain silent and the government reflects, the reactionary movement will
come sooner or later in the coming weeks. Let us remember - for those who have
known it, or share it with those who have not - the month of December in the
Yellow Vests: the rioting situation peaked, then fell further and further to
suffocate under bloody repression. We can bet that the government will try the
same stupid strategy with populations that are all the more easily criminalised
the more the state is racist.

Today that we are relieved, let's ask ourselves the right questions, for
example: 1) how to preserve a social mix that only a spontaneous movement could
allow? 2) how to keep the struggle in an anti-imperialist and internationalist
field? 3) how to keep control of the street and the pressure on the forces of
law and order 4) how to anchor the movement in time and space?

If the answers to these questions are to be answered with the help of our
individual and collective imagination, it is almost certain that we must draw
on the historical and necessarily unknown experiences of the American Black
Panther Party. There is already there: the evidence of a political foundation
by neighborhood, a synthetic organization ranging from childcare to hijacking
and "police surveillance patrols":

"In January 1967, the party officially opened its first office in Oakland.
Within months of its establishment, it began a patrol campaign to monitor the
actions of the city's police. The action was supposed to respond to the seventh
point of its program: "We demand an immediate end to police brutality and the
killing of blacks. The Black Panthers were inspired by similar actions in
Watts, California, the previous summer. Negro Citizen Alert Patrols were
organized by equipping vehicles with scanners to listen and track LAPD cars.
Equipped with law books and tape recorders, the patrols made sure that every
law enforcement action was legal. However, the operation had to be stopped
after the police destroyed the recording devices and forcibly dispersed the

The Black Panthers added an element to the Los Angeles group's initial panoply
by arming the participants of the Oakland City surveillance rounds. The group's
goal, however, was to stay within the strict framework of legality. It relies
on the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America and
the laws of the State of California to justify the carrying of concealed
weapons by its members. Members receive training on the basic constitutional
rights to arrest and carry weapons."

Signed X

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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