[News] Anatomy of a counter-insurgency

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 7 00:08:13 EDT 2020

 https://mronline.org/2020/07/03/anatomy-of-a-counter-insurgency/ Anatomy
of a counter-insurgency Jul 03, 2020 by Martin Schoots-McAlpine
[image: George Floyd protest by the White House May 30 2020]
to undermine the George Floyd uprisingIntroduction

On May 25, 2020, police in Minneapolis Minnesota murdered George Floyd in
cold blood. Responding to allegations of counterfeit money, police arrested
Floyd, with one officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes,
ultimately suffocating him. The killing was captured on video and quickly
spread across the internet.

Protests soon followed. The first protest organized in Minneapolis was on
May 26. By May 28 the protests had spread to the nearby cities of St Paul
and Duluth with riots occurring in Minneaopolis that evening. Mostly
notably, the third precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department was
besieged and burned. Minnesota activated the National Guard on May 29 in
response to the unrest.1  The American state’s disastrous response to
COVID-19, massive unemployment, and indiscriminate police killings that
disproportionately target people of colour provided the impetus for an
enormous and unprecedented outpouring of rage; protests, many of them
violently targeting the police, spread across the United States like

While the initial uprising was ferocious in its explosive anger and
militancy, within just three weeks the protests seem to have been channeled
largely into the decidedly less militant demand of “Defund the police.”
What happened? I largely agree with what Kandist Mallett wrote in a
brilliant article in *Teen Vogue*, in which she argued that: “those in
power…are working tirelessly to destroy this wave of unrest before it
becomes a tsunami they cannot control.… They are trying to kill this
movement.”2 The defanging of the George Floyd Uprising was not accidental
but was rather a deliberate attempt on the part of the American ruling
class to regain social control in the wake of the most militant protests in
recent memory—and, as a movement, possibly the largest in U.S. history

What I want to do in this article is to examine the dimensions of how this
defanging took place: how, within the space of two weeks, we went from
burning down a police station to making small budgetary demands. I argue
that the massive effort to defang the George Floyd Uprising should be
understood as a deliberate counter-insurgency operation, combining the
(sometimes coordinated) efforts of: various police forces, the capitalist
media, the American military, NGOs, the Democrats, both state and federal
governments, and other liberal establishment figures. What I also want to
show is that these efforts were not extraordinary: there was no shadowy
conspiracy to intervene. Rather, each of these apparatuses functioned
exactly as intended to in order to defend the existing capitalist order. By
examining the response to the George Floyd Uprising, the left can gain a
better understanding of just how difficult it will be to overthrow
capitalism and the capitalist state and potentially avoid pitfalls in the

Before continuing, I want to address the initial and most obvious
opposition to my argument. If the efforts to defang the protests should be
understood as a counter-insurgency, then it stands to reason that the
George Floyd Uprising should be considered an insurgency. Is this not
hyperbolic? Given the extent of the crisis of legitimacy the protests
created for the American state, I do not think it is hyperbolic at all. As
Kristian Williams argued in “The other side of the COIN: counterinsurgency
and community policing”, insurgency and counter-insurgency is precisely the
lens through which the American state views much of its domestic policing
activity, from gang-related operations through to protest management.3

[image: George Floyd protest by the White House May 30 2020]

George Floyd protest by the White House (5/30/20). Image credit: Geoff
Livingston <https://flic.kr/p/2j8K6TZ>.

The uprising truly created a crisis of legitimacy for the American state.
It needs to be stated outright that the burning of a police station and the
forced retreat, under siege, of the police inside is unprecedented in the
history of modern American protest. The vulnerability of the police was put
on full display: the following night police were attacked in Los Angeles
and New York, among other locations. The National Guard was deployed
throughout the United States. While not as historically unprecedented for
dealing with dissent, there were concerns, at least in Minnesota, that the
National Guard would be insufficient to quell the uprising. Governor Tim
Walz on May 30 in the *Minneapolis Star Tribune*: “We do not have the
numbers… We cannot arrest people when we are trying to hold ground.”4
Three days later, a Senior Airman in the Minnesota National Guard said in
an interview that he was “waiting for the scales to tip” with regards to
the “riot purgatory” that existed; the National Guard had, as of June 2,
been unable to gain control of the city.5 Trump was even rushed to his
White House bunker in response to protests in Washington D.C.; the last
time those bunkers were used was during the September 11 attacks.6 Transit
workers used their collective power to refuse to transport arrested
protestors.7 Inspired by the protests, longshore workers of the
International Longshore and Warehouse Union struck and shut down ports
across the West Coast in mid-June.8 And in terms of putting numbers to the
crisis of legitimacy faced by the American state, on June 3 a Monmouth
University survey reported that 54% of Americans thought that the burning
of the precinct was justified, higher than the level of support enjoyed by
either Biden or Trump.9
Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency

The United States military, in *Joint Publication 3-24: Counterinsurgency*,
defines an insurgency as: “The organized use of subversion and violence to
seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region.”
Counter-insurgency then is defined as “Comprehensive civilian and military
efforts designed to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and
address its root causes.”10

It is worth quoting from the manual at length to demonstrate the
sophistication with which the U.S. Military approaches counter-insurgency

Highlighting the specificity of counter-insurgency operations, the manual
argues that:

COIN [counter-insurgency] is distinguished from traditional warfare due to
the focus of its operations—a relevant population—and its strategic
purpose—to gain or maintain control or influence over—and the support of
that relevant population through political, psychological, and economic

Central to how the U.S. Military sees insurgency is the question of
political legitimacy:

The struggle for  legitimacy  with  the  relevant population is typically a
central theme of the conflict between the insurgency and the HN [host
nation] government.  The HN government generally needs some level of
legitimacy among the population to retain the confidence of the populace
and an acknowledgment of governing power.  The insurgency will attack the
legitimacy of the HN government while attempting to develop its own
legitimacy with the population.  COIN should reduce the credibility of the
insurgency while strengthening the legitimacy of the HN government.12

And in turn, central to the question of legitimacy is the task of building
and controlling narratives:

COIN planners should compose a unifying message (the COIN narrative) that
is consistent with the overarching USG narrative, which is coupled to the
USG [U.S. government] objective.  Narrative is a structure of planned
themes from which both messages and actions are developed.  Narrative
provides a common thread of communicative influence.  The objective speaks
to desired outcome; narrative communicates the story of the how and why of
an operation.  Common themes within a COIN narrative may be: reinforcing
the credibility and perception of legitimacy of the HN and USG COIN
operation, exploiting the negative aspects of the insurgent efforts, and
preemptively presenting the expected insurgent argument along with
counter-arguments. … The  COIN  narrative  should  be  the  result  of
meticulous  target-audience  analysis  conducted  by  cultural  and
language  subject  matter experts …  The COIN narrative should provide the
guidance from which themes, actions, and messages can be planned in
support of the  COIN objectives.13

Narrative construction and control is reiterated in practical terms later
in the *Manual*:

In COIN, the information flow can be roughly divided into information which
the USG requires to guide its political-military approach (i.e., knowledge
of local conditions) and information which the USG wishes to disseminate to
influence populations.  At the same time, counterinsurgents also seek to
impede the information flow of insurgent groups—both their intelligence
collection and their ability to influence the relevant population. 14

One of the tactics emphasized to impede the ability of insurgents to
influence the target population is working with local
authorities—especially non-governmental ones like religious leaders, and
NGOs- to coopt the message of the insurgency and explicitly to moderate it.
15 This latter point is extremely important; while moderate movements may
enjoy more popular support, they are also far less successful at winning
their demands.16 It is therefore in the interest of those defend the
existing order to support the moderate elements of a movement.

All this is to say then that the U.S. Military understands insurgency and
counter-insurgency as being not just a military question, but rather a
question of politics. To this end, the *Manual* heavily emphasizes the
importance of political action in counter-insurgency operations:

To be effective, officials  involved  in  COIN  should  address  two
imperatives—political  action  and security—with equal urgency, recognizing
that insurgency is fundamentally an armed political competition….  COIN
functions,  therefore,  include  informational,  security, political,
economic, and development components, all of which are designed to support
the overall objective of establishing and consolidating control by the HN
government. … This is the core of COIN, because it provides a framework
around which all other programs and activities are organized.  As described
above, depending on the root causes of the insurgency, the strategy may
involve elements of  political reform,  reconciliation,  popular
mobilization,  and governmental  capacity building.17

If we understand insurgency and counter-insurgency as involving both a
military and political aspect, in which the political is primary, with
insurgency being primarily about building a counter-legitimacy to the state
and counter-insurgency being primarily about the political isolation of
insurgents through the creation of narratives, we can begin to see how such
an understanding is useful to apply to American domestic politics. The
George Floyd Uprising saw insurgents directly undermine the legitimacy of
the existing state, especially the police, through both armed and political
action. In turn, the state and establishment responded with both armed and
political actions, the latter in the form of co-optation and narrative

But the connections between American counter-insurgency and domestic
politics are not just on the discursive level. In “The other side of the
COIN: counterinsurgency and community policing”, Kristian Williams provides
an excellent overview of the material relationship between American
military counter-insurgency programs and American policing. This is
specifically evident with regard to trends towards the militarization of
the police and so-called “Community Policing” initiatives. Williams
demonstrates how, in a modern example of the “imperial boomerang”18, many
of the methods employed by modern police forces were developed and refined
by the American military, including during its occupation of Iraq and
Afghanistan. In turn, the military partnered with police forces to learn
how to better control conquered populations, be they black people living in
American cities or Iraqis living under American occupation in Iraq.19

Of particular interest is the role that NGOs play in this process. As was
noted earlier, the U.S. Military makes special mention of NGOs in the
process of counter-insurgency. An earlier version of the *Manual*,
published in 2006 and authored by David Petraeus, is more explicit,
remarking that “some of the best weapons for counterinsurgents do not
shoot” and referring to NGOs as “force-multipliers”. Williams is able to
show how NGOs were directly involved in de-escalating responses of the
community to murders committed by American police in Oakland, as well as
involved in anti-gang activities in Boston. Both of these separate efforts
fall under the playbook of counter-insurgency.20

Before going in depth into the George Floyd Uprising, it is worthwhile
looking at the “why” of counter-insurgency. Why is it that the police and
military have developed a comprehensive strategy intended to undermine
threats to the existing order? Fundamentally, the modern state exists to
protect the interests of the capitalist class—namely the continuation of
capital accumulation and exploitation—against the interests of everyone
else. In turn, specific states exist to protect the specific interests of
their specific capitalist classes. Thus anything that attempts to undermine
capitalism, or the ability of capitalists to exploit, must be itself
undermined. The state has a myriad of tools at its disposal to help with
this process. Some are ideological (they convince people exploitation is in
their own interest) whereas others, like the police, are repressive.
Insofar as the goal of counter-insurgency is ultimately to protect the
accumulation of capital, we should understand counter-insurgency as
extending beyond just the actions of the repressive apparatuses of the
state. What I will explore below is that in this case, counter-insurgency
was a joint effort of the entire American ruling class, both inside and
outside the state, to defang the George Floyd Uprising. The American ruling
class used both violent and non-violent means to defang the uprising: they
deployed what could be called a carrot-and-stick approach in order to
protect the social order.
The Carrot…The Media Narrative

In the days following the murder of George Floyd, the media worked
tirelessly to defang the George Floyd Uprising. They did this not by
creating reality through discourse, but by selectively and pointedly
reporting on certain aspects of reality. As a result, they encouraged
people to think about the uprising in specific ways, and in turned called
them into action in specific ways. I will focus primarily on the *Minneapolis
Star Tribune*; the narrative trends developed there were later repeated in
media across the United States.

Initial media reaction to the uprising directly condemned property
destruction. After a Target was looted on the night of May 27, the *Star
Tribune* spent the following day reporting on the impact that riots would
have on small businesses.21 True to form, the *Star Tribune* printed a call
for peace from the family and partner of George Floyd22 as well as from
“political, faith, community leaders” calling for an “end to riots.”23 The
latter story was particularly interesting insofar as the group was called
together for a conference by Minnesota governor Tim Walz, and included both
church leaders and NGO managers. Here is an example of a top state official
picking and choosing who counts as a “community leader” without direct
input from the community. In turn, the *Star Tribune* reported on the
meeting treating these externally hand-picked “community leaders” as though
their legitimacy derived from the community itself.

In the following days, the *Star Tribune* shifted focus to the human cost
of the riots to the local community. The publication blamed the riots for
creating a food desert due to the closing of large corporate grocery stores.
24 Rioters were also blamed for the lack of access to medicine now faced by
the local community due to the closure of pharmacies.25 Rioters were
alleged to have burned down nearly 200 units of affordable housing, thus
exacerbating the housing crisis.26 The riots were also allegedly
responsible for devastating Minneapolis’ famed Lake Street, home to
immigrant-owned business and a hub, according to the *Star Tribune*, of

In its discussion of the immediate impact of the uprising on the local
community, not once did the *Star Tribune* go beyond surface-level
condemnations of the rioters. Suddenly concerned with access to food and
medication, the stories did not include discussions as to why the closure
of a few grocery stores could create a food desert. There was no discussion
on the increased price of food and wealth-disparity. There was no
discussion on the monopolization of food sources by large chains. There was
no discussion on the effects of for-profit healthcare on access to
medicine. No discussions on gentrification and stagnant wages leading to
the necessity of specifically designated “affordable” housing. No
discussions on the context of the riots: namely 40 million unemployed
Americans staring down a pandemic with miniscule government relief. No
discussion of looting as a means of getting necessities such as medicine,
food, and clothing; no discussion as to why Target and pharmacies became
targets. Instead the riots were presented largely without context, as
simply an irrational outburst of anger, alone causing problems to the
community. Those fighting back against the existing order were blamed for
the worst effects of the very order they fought against.

In addition to direct condemnation, the *Star Tribune* also took a more
nuanced approach to the riots. Instead of the riots being an organic
expression of community anger, they were presented—both by the media, and
the government—as being the work of (usually white) “outside agitators”.
Rioting was purported to be the work of secret white-supremacists that had
infiltrated the protests in order to cause mayhem. In that same meeting of
community leaders called together by Tim Walz on May 30, the executive
director of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage put it
succinctly: “White people from other communities are coming into my
community, our communities as some kind of perverse poetry, as if it wasn’t
bad enough already. … Go home now. The fascists on the plan right now, turn
around.”28 The *Star Tribune* reported on an Illinois man who had been
arrested with explosives in Minneapolis, who had specifically traveled
there to riot.29 The mayor of St Paul and the governor of Minnesota had
each tweeted that the vast majority -80% to all- of the arrestees in the
week preceding June 6 had been from out-of-state despite the fact that
there was no evidence to back up such claims. The claims were so ludicrous
that the *Star Tribune* ran a story walking back many of the claims about
outside agitators; well after the damage had been done to the protests.30

The goal of these various media narratives—first, condemning the riots;
second, emphasizing the damage to the community; and third, blaming outside
agitators- was to drive a dual process of bifurcation within the protest
movement. The goal of the ruling class was on the one hand to separate
“peaceful” liberal protestors from the more radical element, both to avoid
radicalization of the moderate protestors but also to isolate the radicals
within the movement. Second, the goal was to lump the radical protestors
together with apolitical opportunist looters, whether or not the latter
group actually existed, and in turn ignore the radical critiques of both
policing and society as a whole that the radicals put forward. Thus the
establishment attempted to call into being two groups: a group of good,
peaceful, moderate protestors; and a second group of opportunist, violent
protestors who did not care about the injustice the protests were about.
The tactics and message of the first group was to be lauded, whereas the
tactics and message of the second group was to be condemned.

Meanwhile, seemingly out of nowhere, another narrative appeared in the
media. Across both social and traditional media outlets, stories appeared
showing police supporting the protests. Most famous were the images of
police (and sometimes National Guard) kneeling with the protestors. Often
times this was displayed as the result of a request from the “good
protestors”, who were then portrayed as applauding police initiative.
However, in this case reality cut through the media spin: the American
police were simply too vicious for their “spontaneous” (more on this below)
outpouring of empathy to be taken seriously. There were abundant accounts
of the same police transitioning from kneeling to attacking protestors
within the space of hours.

As the protests spread in the early weeks of June, it was no longer
possible for the media to rely on the “outside agitator” platitude. Indeed,
with protests in literally every major city in the United States, there was
no “outside” for the agitators to come from. And with the utter inhumanity
of the police on full display, stories of police taking a knee simply
didn’t hold water. The media then turned to focusing almost exclusively on
the efforts of liberal NGOs engaged in “rebuilding” efforts31, and the
activities of the “good” protestors. The degree to which the “good”
protestors were signal-boosted by the media is evident in the speed at
which the “Defund the Police” slogan, itself a moderated version of the
already moderate “abolish the police” demand, became the public rallying
cry of the movement as a whole.32 Finally, towards mid-June, with the
protests now largely contained and the radical element isolated, the media
began largely ignoring the massive protests that are still occurring,
instead only providing local coverage of incidental events.

While I have focused largely on the narrative created in the *Minneapolis
Star Tribune*, the same pattern (from demonization, to outside agitators,
to focusing on the community cost, the good/bad protestor division, the
police sympathy, to NGOs and liberals, to ultimately ignoring the movement)
was a pattern that was repeated more-or-less within all major media sources
in North America. Why was this the case? The similarity in editorial line
between media companies does not indicate direct coordination between media
onwers nor does it point to state intervention or censorship. Rather,
insofar as media in North America is either owned by large corporations or
run by the state, the commonality of interests that exists between rich
owners and rich state managers is inevitably reflected in the editorial
line of the media which they run.33 It makes total sense then that the
media would relay a narrative which had as its effect the defanging of the
George Floyd Uprising; such an action was absolutely within the interests
of the large capitalists which control the media. The capitalist class, by
owning the media and therefore controlling its content, was able to utilize
media narratives as part of the counter-insurgency effort against the
George Floyd Uprising.

In the case of the *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, the connection between
ownership and editorial line could not be clearer. Glen Taylor, the
billionaire former state senator, admitted as much when he bought the
newspaper in 2014. In an interview with *MinnPost*, he stated that his
ownership of the paper would result in the editorial line being less
liberal.34 It is unsurprising then that the overall editorial position of
the paper reflects Taylor’s public position, namely that the problem is not
specifically law enforcement and that protests are only legitimate if they
are peaceful.35 Insofar as the George Floyd Uprising threatened the
existing order in Minneapolis, an order that Glen Taylor benefitted from,
the *Star Tribune* would come out against the uprising. This same process
played out across the United States over the course of the uprising.
The Copaganda Machine

No account of how the media treated the George Floyd Uprising would be
complete without a discussion of something that is often overlooked in
accounts of reactionary media spin: the absolutely massive public relations
machine employed by the police themselves. While it is possible that the
speed with which stories of police “taking a knee” with protestors went
viral was entirely natural, it is far more likely that in the wake of the
largest anti-police protests in a generation that the police PR machine
jumped into overdrive.

The goal of police public relations (PR) is, like any public relations
campaign, to influence how the public views the police. In one article
written for *Police One*, the largest English-language online community of
police boasting literally tens of thousands of members, the point of police
PR is described as “to establish a positive relationship with the community
before an incident occurs.” The point of PR is directly contextualized to
counteract the public’s reactions to racist police terror: “Events dating
back to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Rodney King, Tamir
Rice, Freddie Gray and others have been covered extensively in the media
and have tarnished the reputation of many agencies. The public relations
team must establish or repair the image of the agency within the community.”
36 In another article on the same website, another officer describes the
utility of “branding” (using a PR campaign to build a police “brand”)
insofar as it allows police departments to control messaging and make clear
a department’s “value proposition.”37 The goal of branding is to build
preconceptions about the role of police, thus filtering any observations
through the preconceived image of how police should act. This allows the
police to have greater impunity in their actions, as anything they do is
seen immediately through the lens of police being good and necessary

On the surface this seems fairly obvious and innocuous. All firms employ PR
strategies in one form or another, in which the firm seeks to use the media
to influence public reaction to the firm. However if we consider the social
role of police, namely a repressive apparatus of the capitalist state
designed to protect the conditions which allow for exploitation, the police
use of PR becomes more sinister. Police directly attempt to manipulate
public perceptions of their actions in their favour, including racist

How widespread is the police use of PR? It is difficult to say. An
examination of several police budgets over the past years of cities such as
New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Toronto turned up little
information; the police are remarkably good at concealing precisely what
they spend their money on. There is some scattered information though that
suggests that the police spend a staggering amount on PR. For instance, in
2016 the Denver Police Department was revealed to have spent $1.3 million
over three years on its “media relations unit”.38 The Metropolitan Police
in the UK had, in 2015, a 10 million pound annual PR budget that employed
100 communications staff, with a police across the UK spending 36 million
pounds annually on PR.39 The LAPD, rather than just employing a Public
Information Officer (PIO), has an entire Public Relations Unit.40 In
Toronto, the 2019 police budget requested an additional $7.9 million to be
partially used on nine new positions in the Corporate Communications Unit,
increasing the total staff from 16 to 25, to be used to “help increase
capabilities in public relations, internal communication and digital
strategy.”41 And in 2020, the NYPD allotted $3.2 million for public
relations, in order to tell their “side of the story.”42

Direct police department expenses on PR are just one of the PR avenues
available to police. Police unions also hire PR firms to improve the image
of their officers or to advance specific goals.43 Individual police
officers can also hire PR firms to represent them in times of need. One
such service, Cop PRotect, allows officers to pay $50 per month for
guaranteed representation if something should go wrong. In a story placed
in *Police Magazine*, the need for such a service is related directly to
the Ferguson Uprising:

Cops today are completely at the mercy of activists who don’t care about
the truth … Darren Wilson was nearly murdered and now lives in hiding,
while the man who tried to kill him is declared a hero by activists. Cop
PRotect gives cops like Darren Wilson a trusted friend to tell their
stories in ways agency information officers, union representatives and the
media cannot or will not.44

In this case, the firm was created directly to mitigate community blowback
against individual officers in the wake of racist police terror.

While the amount that is spent on pro-police PR is hard to find, the
indirect effects make it more obvious. Indeed, there exists an entire
parasitic cottage industry of pro-police PR firms and consulting services,
which exist solely to increase public perceptions in the police. For
instance, a quick search turned up John Guilfoil Public Relations which
specializes in the public sector, including the police. A testimonial from
the chief of the Massachusetts Police Department states that the firm
“provides an extremely valuable service to those agencies that want to be
proactive in … getting out a positive message to the community.”45 PolicePR
in Indiana offers a Public Information Officer boot camp, in partnership
with the Greenwood Police Department.46 Melissa Agnes, a crisis management
strategist who has been featured on *Police One*, has a whole series of
articles and talks dealing specifically with police misconduct, ranging
from “Discussing the Divide Between Police and Their Communities” to
“Discussing The #Ferguson Crisis with Tim Burrows”.47 None of these firms
or services would exist if the police were not paying for them.

Police PR strategies are not limited to traditional media. To give the
strategies a more organic feel, police forces and their hired PR firms make
frequent use of social media in order to help control the narrative around
their actions. *Police Chief Magazine* warns officers that “Hiding and
Hoping is Not a PR Strategy”; police forces not only need to monitor social
media to see what perception of the police force is after an incident, but
must also build “a social media presence”. This latter point can include
spreading information about a suspect in the event that video showing
police misconduct spreads.48 As part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s
‘Community Oriented Policing Services’ (COPS) *Strategic Communication
Practices* guide, there is an entire section on the importance of social
media.49 Another article on *Police One* suggests that police departments
send officers onto Reddit, both to get ahead of a story, but also to
intervene in the discussions as police.50 These efforts can be bolstered by
using “community outreach programs” to “build an online army of supporters.”

Lest anyone think that the police simply use social media to inform their
audience about their activities, the police consciously use social media to
manipulate public opinion during moments of crisis. Taken from another *Police
One* article (a fantastic resource for those wanting to understand the
mindset of police), this one published ominously on May 28, 2020, titled
“12 things every police department’s civil unrest plan needs”, there is an
entire section on social media. Departments are instructed to be aware that
protestors can use social media to amplify and coordinate their activity;
departments should also be aware and be ready to counter those that would
“lower the perception of [their] department.” If that fails, there’s always
the National Guard.52 *Force Science News* published an
article/advertisement featuring Melissa Agnes in 2018, which advised
departments to have prepared a ‘Communications Bible’ to help navigate
crises such as “officer-involved shootings”.53 In a mid-June *Police One*
leadership briefing, after weeks of anti-police protests, authors mockingly
reflected: “Now do you recognize the power of social media?” arguing that
police “must start viewing… social media as an integral tool in policing.”54

All this is to say there exists a massive and highly coordinated police PR
machine, which the police use to try and directly control media narratives
in their favour. They do this as part of a broader effort to maintain the
current social order. While it is impossible to prove this soon, I strongly
suspect that it was this machine which was responsible for the flood of
sympathetic stories about the police that featured prominently across
traditional and social media in early June. Despite the best efforts of the
police, their unions, and their employed PR firms, they were unable to
shift the broader media narrative for more than a few days; the brutal
actions of police across the United States spoke for themselves and
undermined attempts to portray the police in a positive light.

While ultimately unsuccessful, the wave of pro-police media in early June
gave credibility to the more moderate argument that the institution of
policing itself is not the problem, but rather that it is only some “bad
apples” amidst an otherwise salvageable police force. This in turn gave
more ideological power to moderate and liberal elements, the so-called
“good protestors”, within the broader protest movement. To tie this back
into counter-insurgency, control over information in the form of both
narrative construction and information dissemination is one of the main
tools of counter-insurgency strategies. The police consciously did just
this, and in the process strengthened the moderates within the movement.
The Non-Profit Industrial Complex

As noted earlier, the U.S. military considers NGO partnerships to be a
vital part of counter-insurgency efforts. Much has been written about the
negative effects of non-profits on social movements. In the classic
collection of essays titled *The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the
Non-Profit Industrial Complex*, Andrea Smith argues that capital and the
capitalist state use nonprofits to: monitor and control social movements,
divert public resources into private hands, manage and control dissent,
redirect activist efforts towards careerism and away from mass-based modes
of organizing, allow corporations to mask exploitation through
philanthropy, and encourage social movements to model themselves in terms
of structure and politics after capitalist models.55 For the purposes of
this essay, I want to focus on two areas: first, how NGOs have a moderating
effect on the politics of a movement. Second, I will talk about how NGOs
frequently work with the police to protect the current social order under
the guise of changing it.

How is it that non-profits are able to moderate social movements? The
capitalist class is well aware of their own interests and spends an
inordinate amount of money defending them. In the process, they create
philanthropic foundations. These philanthropic foundations not only allow
capitalists to transfer wealth inter-generationally without taxation
(giving their children positions in the foundations) but also fund
charitable activities, such as non-profits. There is a catch though: the
capitalists will not fund anything that does not fit their interests,
namely the continuation of exploitation. They are happy, for instance, to
fund affordable housing initiatives insofar as those initiatives do not
tackle the root causes of homelessness, namely private property. Capitalist
foundations therefore provide resources to NGOs which act in line with
their interests. In turn, NGOs knowingly moderate themselves in order to
better secure resources. Furthermore respectable NGOs can become the public
face of a movement, effectively forcing the more radical organizations out
of the public eye.

The Civil Rights and anti-police movements are full of examples of the
moderating effects of NGOs. For instance, in the 1960s white philanthropist
Stephen Currier set up the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership in
order to channel foundation funding to Civil Rights groups. The so-called
‘Big Six’ were brought together; of the six, the Student Non-Violent
Coordinating Committee, the most radical of the groups, received the least
amount of funding. More radical groups, such as the Nation of Islam, were
completely excluded. In 1963 Malcolm X specifically criticized the Big Six
and the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership in his famous ‘Message
to the Grass Roots’ speech in which he reflected on the March on Washington
which had taken place earlier that year.56 The goal of these maneuvers by
white philanthropists was clear: fund the more moderate element of the
Civil Rights movement to avoid the movement taking a radical turn and
undermining the ability for American capitalism to operate.57

Fast forward 50 years, and the same pattern reoccurs. In Oakland in 2009,
non-profits directly intervened to deradicalize the response to the killing
of Oscar Grant. Ahead of a major rally in January 2009, the Oakland police
arranged meetings with various nonprofit and church leaders in order to
defang the protests before they even began.58 Religious leaders asked their
congregations to not attend the protests. A coalition of NGOs came together
and formed the Coalition Against Police Execution (CAPE). CAPE explicitly
called for a lack of militancy in their protests, and stood as a physical
barrier between police and protestors. 59 In turn, CAPE became the public,
legitimate face of the protests, which was reinforced through media

The uprising in 2014 in Ferguson saw a similar process play itself out.
There the NGO influence was given an organizational existence in the form
of Black Lives Matter. I want to be clear here; when speaking of Black
Lives Matter I am talking about the official organization and not the
broader movement of the same name. Black Lives Matter, while first
conceived of in 2013, organized its first major action in 2014 with the
Black Lives Matter Freedom Ride in response to the killing of Michael Brown
by the Ferguson police. Black Lives Matter became the public face of the
movement. Despite the Ferguson uprising originating in riots, Black Lives
Matter and other organizations planned a series of actions over the course
of the summer of 2014 that channeled local activism into safer and less
rebellious avenues.

Following the Ferguson uprising, moderate elements of the Black Lives
Matter movement became a relatively safe outlet for liberals to support and
into which the capitalist class could channel outrage. Black Lives Matter
and the constellation of new organizations and networks around it received
an absolutely immense amount of donations from larger donors like The Ford
Foundation and George Soros.60 The more liberal elements of the movement,
able to secure donations, were able to take centre-stage. For instance, one
recipient, the Organization for Black Struggle, used some of its funding to
create the Hands Up Coalition. This coalition popularized the “hands up,
don’t shoot” slogan used by protestors; this ran against slogans by more
militant black power activists such as “arms up, shoot back” and “fists up,
fight back”. More radical yet equally active groups, such as the Malcolm X
Grassroots Movement, received no funding. In 2016, Black Lives Matter and
27 other organizations, as part of the Movement for Black Lives, issued a
platform of demands titled *A Vision for Black Lives*. Rather than a
comprehensive plan and program to mobilize the masses to fight for their
own liberation, the document is a set of policy guidelines. The effect is
that efforts are taken off the streets and channeled into traditional power
structures where they are ultimately destined to fail.

The founders of Black Lives Matter were first introduced to each other
through an NGO known as Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD).
The board of directors of BOLD, those who decide its political direction,
is made up of managers of other NGOS.61 BOLD also receives an immense sum
of money from private donors, such as through the “philanthropic
intermediary” known as Borealis Philanthropy62 and through Funders for
Justice.63 This latter group, also created in response to the Ferguson
Uprising, in turn receives funding from The Ford Foundation and the Open
Society Foundations; hardly groups interested in a radical transformation
of the social order or the end of exploitation. I don’t bring this up to
allege a conspiracy that Black Lives Matter is being secretly run by The
Ford Foundation, but rather to show that even Black Lives Matter has its
origins within the non-profit industrial complex milieu, which in turn
effects its politics. Turning back to the George Floyd Uprising, it is
unsurprising that in a recent Reddit Ask-Me-Anything, Kailee Scales, the
Managing Director for Black Lives Matter, condemned the riots and announced
efforts to channel the George Floyd Uprising into voter registration and
“civic engagement” through the #WhatMatters2020 campaign.64

The ways in which non-profits have attempted to moderate explosions of rage
during the George Floyd Uprising are too many to list. One example I want
to focus on, however, is particularly telling. On May 30, two days after
the burning of the Third Precinct in Minneapolis, a local non-profit called
Pillsbury United Communities had a press conference. Pillsbury United
Communities is an incredibly well established NGO; founded in 1879, it runs
a number of outreach and education programs, community programs (such as
free COVID-19 testing), as well as “social enterprises” including a grocery
store. The press conference on May 30 brought together Jamie Foxx, Stephen
Jackson, BLM activist Tamika Mallory, alongside George Floyd’s family.
Speakers were explicit in their calls for peaceful protests, but generally
did not condemn the riots. A peaceful rally followed.65 Thus at the height
of the militant protests, people were asked by “legitimate” community
leaders to temper their anger and engage in traditionally and easily
ignored protests. These calls were amplified by liberals outside the
community and the media.

A few days after the rally, Pillsbury United Communities used George
Floyd’s death to issue a fundraising call; it is unclear from their website
how the money will be used to ensure “Justice for George Floyd”.66 But
individual donations are not the only way that Pillsbury United Communities
raises funds. It also receives donations from massive foundations such as
the Greater Twin Cities United Way, the Minneapolis Foundation, and the St.
Paul & Minnesota Foundation. The United Way, for instance, acts as a
“philanthropic intermediary”, collection donations from large corporations,
and then granting money to non-profits. In this specific case, the money
given to Pillsbury United Communities comes from sources such as 3M, U.S.
Bank, Cargill, and Target.67 The latter, notably, also provides hundreds of
thousands of dollars in donations to police foundations.68 One can see the
issue of an organization fighting for justice against the police having
similar funding sources to the police themselves. It is also unlikely that
the capitalist class would fund those capable of truly undermining it.

That an NGO intervened in a mass struggle to both channel the movement in a
more liberal direction while monopolizing resources is not particularly
surprising. What is particularly interesting though is Pillsbury United
Communities’ connection to community policing. A 2006 report by the
Minneapolis Department of Health & Family Support lists Waite House, a
Pillsbury United Communities site, as a “Weed & Seed Safe Haven”.69 Weed
and Seed programs, for context, gained prominence in 1992 after the Rodney
King riots as a way to connect police and community leaders in order to
ostensibly combat gang violence70; they made cohesive the militarization
tactics (weed) and community policing tactics (seed) employed in
counter-insurgency efforts.71 In December 2014, the FBI gave Pillsbury
United Communities its “Director’s Community Leadership Award”, an annual
award given to groups for crime prevention efforts.72 Then-president and
chief executive, Chanda Smith Baker, accepted the award. Coincidentally,
Chanda Smith Baker—now working for the Minneapolis Foundation—also sits on
the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s newspeak titled “Working Group
on Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters”. The goal of the working group
was to “identify ways to reduce deadly force encounters with law
enforcement”73. Members of the group included the Minneapolis Police Chief
Medaria Arradondo, the Minnesota Attorney General, Philando Castile’s
(killed by police in Minnesota in 2016) uncle, and other judge’s,
academics, politicians, and NGO managers. Tragically and ironically, the
working group released its findings in February 2020; that George Floyd was
murdered, just a few months later in a “police-involved deadly force
encounter”, demonstrates the extent to which so-called community policing
is useful to the community.

One final interesting link between NGOs and the police in Minneapolis: as
mentioned earlier, Chanda Smith Baker, after working for Pillsbury United
Communities, went on to work as the Senior Vice President, Impact for The
Minneapolis Foundation. The current president and CEO of the Minneapolis
Foundation is R.T. Rybak, who was also the former mayor of Minneapolis.
R.T. Rybak also sits on the board of a company called Benchmark Analytics:
an IT company which has designed a system capable of predicting when
officers will become problematically violent. Rybak therefore has a direct
material interest in “reforming” the police. In an article written on June
2, titled “I Was the Mayor of Minneapolis and I Know Our Cops Have a
Problem”, Rybak recalls surveying the damage to Minneapolis after the riots
with Chanda Smith Baker, before advertising his firm’s solution to police
violence.74 Unsurprisingly he emphasizes the humanity of the police, and he
sees the solution as being community policing informed by predicative
behavior technology.

The organizational and interpersonal links between NGO managers,
politicians, police leadership, “community leaders”, and the board members
of large capitalist firms points to the existence of a ruling capitalist
class. The above is just a small illustration of how the ruling class rules
in Minneapolis.

To summarize all of this: Pillsbury United Communities is an established,
well-respected local NGO. It is part of the non-profit industrial complex,
relying on philanthropic intermediaries for much of its funding, which in
turn are funded by massive corporations. It came out very vocally in the
early stages of the George Floyd Uprising, urging a more liberal and
institutional approach to activism as opposed to the riots. And, it has
close ties to the Minneapolis Police Department and state police through
community policing programs. It is just one textbook example of many of how
NGOs act as elements of a counter-insurgency strategy.
The Democrats

The Democrats have been referred to as the “graveyard of social movements”
insofar as they absorb, coopt, and disorganize them.75 Their approach to
the George Floyd Uprising is no different. What the Democratic Party sought
to do in the wake of the George Floyd Uprising was a combination of
repression (in those places in which it exercised power, such as
Minneapolis, New York, L.A., etc.) and coopt its energies into the Biden
2020 campaign. Given the unpopularity of Biden and the overall increasing
disinterest in electoral politics by much of the left the attempt to coopt
the movement, at least ostensibly, has been unsuccessful. It is, however,
still worth examining in order to paint a full picture of the
counter-insurgency campaign against the uprising.

At the beginning of the uprising, the Democratic Party machine jumped into
motion but was unsure how to act. While top Democrat strategists spoke to
media about how the uprising could affect the election76 (indicating that
they were in fact working on a response), there was little in the way of
official high-level statement or actions for almost a week. Then on June 2
two fairly major events occurred. First, Biden publicly brought Julian
Castro into his campaign; Castro had been a vocal proponent of liberal
police reforms during his bid to become the Democratic nominee for
president.77 Second,  Pelosi, the multi-millionaire Speaker of the House,
asked the Congressional Black Caucus to draft a series of police reforms.78

On June 8, following a ridiculous display in which Pelosi and other top
Democrats took a knee wearing Ghanaian kente cloths, the Justice in
Policing Act was revealed. The act is fairly milquetoast—far behind the
nebulous demands of the uprising—and includes provisions for more easily
prosecuting police in cases of brutality, mandatory body cameras, as well
as a ban on chokeholds. The Act does absolutely nothing to abolish or even
defund police departments. 79 Nor is the act likely to become law; even if
the act was to pass the Republican-majority Senate, Trump has announced his
attention to veto it.80

Rather than an accident, the unlikelihood of the bill passing is a feature,
one of the ways in which so-called “checks and balances” help protect the
current order. The Democrats know this; had it been likely to pass the bill
would have been even more muted. The inaction of the Democrats in the face
of the George Floyd Uprising is not surprising; they are one of the two
parties that have overseen the construction and maintenance of the
white-supremacist order in the United States. Biden is himself a career
segregationist and author of a 1994 crime bill81 which was a cornerstone in
the construction of the modern for-profit prison behemoth.82 The
Congressional Black Caucus has itself helped to make the police a
“protected class”, and also contributed to the militarization of police
through the 1033 program.83

Despite the lack of success of the official Democrat cooptation attempt of
the George Floyd Uprising, I want to point out one of the more insidious
ways that the Democrats are attempting to coopt outrage against police
murders through social movements themselves. It is worth first pointing out
that Alicia Garza, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, is a
supporter of the centrist-wing of the Democrats, specifically Elizabeth
Warren.84 Black Lives Matter has recently launched a campaign called
#WhatMatters2020. The goal of the campaign is to bring “BLM supporters and
allies to the polls in the 2020 U.S Presidential Election to build
collective power and ensure candidates are held accountable for the issues
that systematically and disproportionately impact Black and under-served
communities across the nation.”85 A campaign video calls on people to vote
for an America where “police are held accountable” and “where we have
access to quality healthcare”. The problem with this campaign, of course,
is that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are even pretending to
deliver on promises like this. Biden does not support medicare for all, and
was an architect of the current racist criminal justice system. The
#WhatMatters2020 campaign is a cynical sheepdog campaign, bringing black
people angry at the current injustices of American white-supremacist
capitalism back into the Democrats.
Invasion of the Liberals

Earlier in this article, I mentioned that the media was attempting to call
into existence a group of “good”, peaceful protestors. I want to spend more
time now talking about this process. Ideology is both produced by practice,
but also exists as a way of calling particular types of people into
activity.86 When the media began focusing almost exclusively on “good”
protestors, it was at first inventing this category out of almost thin air;
the line it was drawing was an artificial one. But by putting forward this
ideological pole, the media called into action people who had hitherto not
been involved. The media, alongside notable liberal politicians and other
establishment figures, created a group of liberal protestors out of
inactive liberals who now saw themselves and their own political
predilections reflected in the ongoing uprising. Included in these efforts
by the media and liberal establishment figures is a now-famous essay by
former president Barrack Obama, posted to *Medium* on June 1, in which he
said he supported the protests, condemned violence, and urged reform
efforts to be focused on institutional channels.87

The flip side of the liberal “call to action” is that it also acts as a
safeguard against radicalization. When reality confronts ideology, it is
often ideology that is changed. Reality forces a rupture in one’s worldview
which can lead to radicalization. In this case it became difficult to
substantiate the story of a good, neutral, and protective state in the face
of ubiquitous police violence against even peaceful protestors. If reality
can be changed or if powerful narratives can reinforce ideology, ideology
is cemented rather than discarded. In this case, liberalism as a worldview
was able to escape challenge due to the emergence of establishment liberals
in support of the protests.

The result of the liberalization of the protests on public opinion is
interesting. By mid-June, 67% of Americans reportedly supported the ongoing
protests. The racial breakdown was more stark: 60% of white people
supported the protests, whereas 86% of black people supported them. Despite
this, 59% of Americans (including 62% of white Americans compared with 43%
of black Americans) believed that the protests were spurred on at least in
part as a means for people to engage in criminal behavior.88 Thus the
liberalization of the protests resulted in a situation in which the
majority of a country deeply enmeshed in white supremacy supported protests
proclaiming the value of black lives, despite the majority of the country
materially benefitting from that same unjust racial hierarchy. That major
politicians like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Governor
of Massachusetts and presidential candidate Mitt Romney joined the
protests—both politicians with significant power to change the conditions
against which they protested- signals only that the political message of
the uprising had shifted in the popular consciousness away from “dismantle
white supremacy” to the base level of “black people are human”. That nearly
one third of America could not even support such a basic affirmation of
humanity is telling.

The liberal invasion had three main effects on the uprising. First, the
influx of liberals into the rallies not only led to the proliferation of
protests and an increase in attendance, but also to their pacification.
Protestors began to self-police, modifying their tactics in line with the
interests of the existing order. Protestors made sure to demarcate
themselves and their actions as “peaceful”, thus robbing themselves of even
the specter of militancy. To a certain extent there is a degree of
“selection bias” here; militant protestors are more likely to be arrested,
and therefore over time the composition of a protest will naturally become
more liberal. Police are aware of this and consciously seek to tie up
activist time and resources in legal proceedings.

Internally to the protests, liberal protestors acted like “peace police”,
disrupting the activities of militants. Examples included liberals in
Washington DC turning over a “rioter” to the police (at an anti-police
march!) at the end of May,89 as well as the doxxing by liberal activists of
Rayshard Brook’s girlfriend, pegged as an outside agitator.90 She is
accused of setting fire to the Wendy’s outside of which her partner was
murdered by police. Another high-profile example of the liberalization of
the protests on the tactical level is Al Sharpton’s call for a march on
Washington in August, which took place at the height of militant protests
occurring in Washington D.C..91 Such a call, not to support the existing
protests but to postpone them, was a calculated attempt to de-escalate the

Second, the influx of liberals into the movement has paved the way for
false victories. By this I mean superficial gains that ultimately leave the
underlying power structure which gave rise to the protests unchallenged.
Included here is the “Black Lives Matter” street mural in Washington D.C.,
various corporate black-washing campaigns, the changing of band names, and
the cancelling of shows like COPS. One notes the irony of the mayor of New
York ordering that “Black Lives Matter” be painted outside of Trump Towers
while overseeing a police department which brutalizes black people and and
while also opposing efforts to defund the NYPD.

Third, the influx of liberals into the movement had an effect on defanging
the demands of the movement. Black Lives Matter was quick to issue the
demand to defund the police in the early days of the George Floyd Uprising:
they explicitly pushed for a defunding of the police, without going into
detail as to what that would entail.92 Other activists seized on the space
this opened up and stated that “defund” meant “defund everything”. They
argued that the police were not reformable and therefore had to be
abolished.93 What followed was a discussion in the media about whether or
not “defund” actually meant “defund”. There was no shortage of liberals
assuring other concerned liberals that defunding didn’t actually mean that
there would be no police.94 While Minneapolis has since begun steps to
disband their police force, demands in other locations seem to ask for a
portion of police budgets to be re-allocated to community resources, in
line with the Movement for Black Lives policy demands.95

The conceptual slippage of “defund” has not gone unnoticed by the police
themselves. In a June 18 article on *Police One*, Mike Walker, a police
officer for 27 years, wrote that “defunding is really just a way of saying
reduced funding.”96 In the same article he offers assurance to worried
police officers by noting that budget cuts were already on the agenda due
to COVID-19, and that most municipalities legally cannot function without
police due to their municipal charters.

That at least some police are fine with temporarily defunding the police
speaks to the heart of just how defanged a demand “defund the police”
actually is. But “abolish the police” as a slogan absent a critique of the
conditions that give rise to the police is itself a demand that does not
cut to the heart of the matter. The police exist because capitalism
requires force to defend inequality and exploitation. Without ending
exploitation, there will still need to be some form of coercive apparatus
to ensure the continued existence of exploitation. Thus the coercive
functions of the police will be offloaded to other state apparatuses; there
will still be violent, racist coercion whether or not the police exist.
This is something that already happens; consider, for instance, the racist
terror that child welfare services across Canada (not armed, not police)
put Indigenous people through for years. The George Floyd Uprising opened
the space for discussions about the fundamental nature of society, about
capitalism, imperialism, and racial inequality in America. Liberals shifted
the overton window to exclude visions of radical transformation, instead
focusing on the degree to which police should be defunded. Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez’s now viral Instagram post which stated that police abolition
looks like white suburbia, an atomized capitalist dystopia, makes total
sense in this context.97

The liberal invasion resulted in a defanging of protest tactics, results,
and even the demands themselves. This process, which was aided by the
police, the media, and “legitimate” community leaders, was nothing less
than the political side of a counter-insurgency campaign by the American
ruling class directed against the George Floyd Uprising. Thus a movement
which began with the burning of a police station has been transformed into
one of requesting minor amendments to municipal budgets.
…And the Stick

The majority of the article has focused on the less-obvious methods that
the American ruling class has used in its counter-insurgency efforts
against the George Floyd Uprising. However, while counter-insurgency is
more effective if it involves elements of soft power, no counter-insurgency
effort is complete without open repression. The efforts against the George
Floyd Uprising are no exception.

It is hard to overstate the scale of the police operation against
protestors over the past month. For instance, by June 2 there already been
over 11 000 arrests of protestors.98 The volume of arrests was used as an
excuse to temporarily suspend habeus corpus in New York.99 There have been
numerous documented arrests and attacks on journalists from even liberal
platforms such as CNN. To my knowledge there are no up to date figures on
the total number of arrests. In terms of the intensity of the police
response, over the past month there have been countless scenes of police
using tear gas and pepper spray to clear otherwise peaceful protests. An
online database has logged over 670 individual incidents of police
brutality caught on video.100 Police have killed at least four protestors
over the course of the uprising. Many more have been maimed.101 As a result
there are at least 40 different lawsuits currently underway against police
departments for brutality during the George Floyd Uprising.102

As if the level of direct repression was not enough, there has also been an
increase in surveillance of activists. A recent leak, titled “Blue Leaks”,
has revealed that the FBI monitored social media extensively during the
protests and forward information it thought relevant to local police
departments.103 FBI agents have also harassed activists after they attended
recent protests against police brutality.104 The goal of FBI harassment in
general is to intimidate protestors and organizers into inactivity as a
means of disorganizing movements. These most recent incidents are
reminiscent of FBI surveillance and intimidation of the anti-war movement

The extraordinary level of police terror was not enough to contain the
uprising. The National Guard was deployed to 31 states and Washington D.C..
This involved over 62 000 soldiers.105 The National Guard was itself
involved in the violent repression of the protests.106 Over 200 cities
imposed a curfew, which affected more than 60 million people.107 Trump went
as far as to threaten to use the American military to impose order on
cities where the protests could not be contained by conventional repression.

One final aspect to overt repression of protests which needs to be included
is the role of far right organizations and militia groups. While these are
ostensibly distinct from the state, there is significant overlap and
cooperation between police forces and far right organizations; a now
infamous 2006 FBI report details the extent to which white supremacists
have infiltrated police departments.109 For instance, in early June police
in Oregon were caught on video coordinating with the far-right Proud Boys
to help them avoid arrest after they intimidated George Floyd protestors.110
Much has also been written about the so-called Boogaloo Movement, which has
targeted anti-police brutality protests.111

There have been many attacks by the far right on recent protests. Incidents
include a mob of armed counter-protestors in Bethel, Ohio which attacked a
black lives matter rally searching for “antifa”.112 The KKK has also been
active in these efforts: they attacked a black lives matter rally in Nevada,
113 and a local KKK leader in Virginia drove his car into a protest in
mid-June.114 The autonomous zone set up in Seattle has also been a magnet
for far-right attacks; on June 15 the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer entered
the zone and beat a man,115 and there have been five shootings directed at
the zone in recent weeks, somehow allowed by police. The most recent one
resulted in the death of two attackers and injuries to a 14 year old boy.116
Far right groups have also announced a plan to “retake” the zone on July 4.

Police and national guard brutality, police harassment and surveillance,
threats of military intervention, and attacks by the far right all serve as
the coercive elements to the American establishment’s counter-insurgency
efforts against the George Floyd Uprising. Without the threat of violence
the “carrot” side of the “carrot and stick” formula would not be as
attractive. The end goal however, is the same: the maintenance and defense
of an order defined by exploitation and white supremacy.

Over the course of this article what I have sought to do is outline some of
the ways that the American ruling sought to defend itself during the course
of one of the largest threats to its own existence in recent years. I have
shown how combined and coordinated efforts by: police forces, the military,
capitalist media, NGOs, the Democrats, far-right groups, and liberal
establishment figures have all combined to undermine the George Floyd
Uprising. Thus far these efforts seem to have been rather successful.

The beautiful thing about history, however, is that it is never
predetermined. The future is not written. While the establishment has a
mind-boggling array of resources and sophisticated counter-insurgency
techniques at its disposal, it is not infallible. Indeed, it does (and
has!) made mistakes. It is these mistakes that provide openings for
revolutionary forces to intervene and change the existing social order.
Even the outcome of these protests is not yet decided: they continue, and
the protestors become increasingly sophisticated in fighting back. The
massive uprising of the past few weeks has shown the degree to which the
people do possess power. But the events have also shown the pitfalls into
which movements of resistance can fall. By writing this article I hope to
have exposed some of these pitfalls, so that liberation struggles now and
in the future can avoid them.

   1. ↩ VOA News, “Minnesota Calls National Guard to Quell Violent Protests
   in Minneapolis
   2. ↩ Kandist Mallett, “The Black Lives Matter Revolution Can’t Be
   Co-Opted By Police and Lawmakers
   3. ↩ Kristian Williams, “The other side of the COIN: counterinsurgency
   and community policing
   *Interface*, Vol 3, No 1, May 2011.
   4. ↩ Aaron Morrison and Tim Sullivan, “Minneapolis overwhelmed again by
   protests over Floyd death
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, May 30, 2020.
   5. ↩ Reid Forgrave, “On patrol in St. Paul, National Guard waits ‘for
   the scales to tip’
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, June 2, 2020.
   6. ↩ Jamie Ehrlich, “The hidden history of the secret presidential bunker
   *CNN Politics*.
   7. ↩ Hilary Hanson, “NYC Transit Union Backs Bus Drivers Who Refuse To
   Transport Protestors For NYPD
   *HuffPost U.S.*, May 30, 2020.
   8. ↩ Joe DeManuelle-Hall, “West Coast Dockers Stop Work to Honor George
   *Labor Notes*, June 11, 2020.
   9. ↩ Matthew Impelli, “54 Percent of Americans Think Burning Down
   Minneapolis Police Precinct Was Justified After George Floyd’s Death
   *Newsweek*, June 6, 2020.
   10. ↩ *Joint Publication 3-24: Counterinsurgency*, GL-5.
   11. ↩ *Joint Publication 3-24: Counterinsurgency*, xiii.
   12. ↩ *Joint Publication 3-24: Counterinsurgency*, I-7.
   13. ↩ *Joint Publication 3-24: Counterinsurgency*, I-8.
   14. ↩ *Joint Publication 3-24: Counterinsurgency*, III-6.
   15. ↩ *Joint Publication 3-24: Counterinsurgency*, III-14.
   16. ↩ Feinberg, M., Willer, R., & Kovacheff, C. (2020). “The activist’s
   dilemma: Extreme protest actions reduce popular support for social movements
   <https://doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000230>”. *Journal of Personality and
   Social Psychology*. Advance online publication.
   17. ↩ *Joint Publication 3-24: Counterinsurgency*, III-5.
   18. ↩ Connor Woodman, “The Imperial Boomerang: How colonial methods of
   repression migrate back to the metropolis
   19. ↩ Kristian Williams, “The other side of the COIN: counterinsurgency
   and community policing
   *Interface*, Vol 3, No 1, May 2011.
   20. ↩ Williams, “The other side of the COIN: counterinsurgency and
   community policing
   21. ↩ Kavita Kumar and Miguel Otarola, “Small-business owners pick up
   the pieces after night of rage, destruction
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, May 28, 2020.
   22. ↩ Paul Walsh, “Seeing his city on fire would ‘devastate’ George
   Floyd, girlfriend says
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, May 28, 2020.
   23. ↩ Briana Bierschbach, “Minnesota’s political, faith, community
   leaders plead for an end to riots
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, May 30, 2020.
   24. ↩ John Ewoldt, “Minneapolis neighborhoods face food desert after
   looting closes multiple stores
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, June 2, 2020.
   25. ↩ Kavita Kumar and Adam Belz, “In riot-hit Twin Cities
   neighborhoods, a hole where pharmacies used to be
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, June 2, 2020.
   26. ↩ Jim Buchta, “Minneapolis vandalism targets include 189-unit
   affordable housing development
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, May 28, 2020.
   27. ↩ Kathleen Hennessy and Tim Sullivan, “Unrest devastates a city’s
   landmark street of diversity
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*. May 31, 2020.
   28. ↩ Briana Bierschbach, “Minnesota’s political, faith, community
   leaders plead for an end to riots
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, May 30, 2020.
   29. ↩ Andy Mannix, “’We came to riot’: Illinois man livestreamed
   lighting fires, handing out explosives in Minneapolis, charges say
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, June 1, 2020.
   30. ↩ Torey Van Oot. “’Fog of conflict’: Minnesota officials responding
   to George Floyd protests, violence helped spread of misinformation
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, June 6, 2020.
   31. ↩ Kelly Smith, “Minneapolis, St. Paul foundations aim at rebuilding,
   criminal justice reform after riots
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, June 5, 2020; “How To Give Back To Your
   Besieged Community
   *CBS Minnesota*, June 9, 2020.
   32. ↩ Sam Levin. “Movement to defund police gains ‘unprecedented’
   support across U.S.
   *The Guardian*, June 4, 2020; Jack Kelly. “The Movement To Defund Or
   Disband Police: Here’s What You Need To Know Now
   *Forbes*, June 9, 2020.
   33. ↩ Noam Chomsky, *Manufacturing Consent*. Michael Parenti, *Inventing
   Reality: The Politics of News Media*.
   34. ↩ Britt Robson, “New owner Glen Taylor: less liberal Star Tribune
   *MinnPost*, April 16, 2014.
   35. ↩ Chris Haynes. “Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor calls George Floyd’s
   death ‘a shame’ and ‘a tragedy’
   *Yahoo Sports*, May 28, 2020.
   36. ↩ Dan Grossi, “Public relations in law enforcement: Is the PIO
   *Police One*, January 8, 2020.
   37. ↩ W. Michael Phibbs, “Why your police department needs a brand
   *Police One*, September 7, 2017.
   38. ↩ John Ferrugia, Brittany Freeman, Jason Foster. “Denver police
   defend public relations spending
   *The Denver Channel*, February 17, 2016.
   39. ↩ William Turvill. “UK police forces spend more than £36m a year on
   PR and communications
   *Press Gazette*, May 1, 2015.
   40. ↩ Los Angeles Police Department. “Public Relations Unit
   Site of The Los Angeles Police Department*.
   41. ↩ Mark Saunders, Chief of Police. “Toronto Police Service—2019
   Operating Budget Request
   42. ↩ Jake Offenhartz, “NYPD Defends Its Massive Budget As Social
   Services And Youth Programs Are Cut
   *The Gothamist*, May 15, 2020.
   43. ↩ Joel Rub, David Zahniser. “L.A. police union hires PR firm in bid
   to win pay raises
   *Los Angeles Times*, January 10, 2015.
   44. ↩ POL Staff. “PR Firm Launches Service to Defend Police Officers
   from Anti-Cop Activists
   *Police Magazine*, November 17, 2015.
   45. ↩ John Guilfoil Public Relations. “Sectors We Serve
   46. ↩ PolicePR <https://policepr.com/>.
   47. ↩ Melissa Agnes. “Discussing the Divide Between Police and Their
   Communities, on The Police Podcast
   *Melissa Agnes: Crisis Management Strategist*. January 27, 2015; Melissa
   Agnes. “TCIP #011—Discussing The #Ferguson Crisis with Tim Burrows
   *Melissa Agnes: Crisis Management Strategist*. August 17, 2014.
   48. ↩ Julie Parker. “Hiding and Hoping Is Not a PR Strategy
   *Police Chief Magazine*.
   49. ↩ Darrel W. Stephens, Julia Hill, Sheldon Greenburg. *Strategic
   Communication Practices: A Toolkit for Police Executives
   50. ↩ Sean Whitcomb, Jonah Spangenthal-Lee. “3 reasons your agency
   should be on Reddit
   *Police One*, May 2, 2019.
   51. ↩ P1 Staff. “Roundtable: How to match your agency’s social media
   strategy with community needs
   *Police One*, May 2, 2019.
   52. ↩ Heather R. Cotter. “12 things every police department’s civil
   unrest plan needs
   *Police One*, May 28, 2020.
   53. ↩ “Are you ready for the crisis that may be heading your way?
   *Police One*, July 5, 2018.
   54. ↩ Yael Bar-tur, Mathew Rejis, “Now do you recognize the power of
   social media?
   *Police One*, June 12, 2020.
   55. ↩ Andrea Smith, “Introduction”, *The Revolution Will Not Be Funded*,
   56. ↩ Malcolm X, “Message to the Grass Roots
   *Black Past*.
   57. ↩ Netfa Freeman, “Movement Ferguson, Beware the Nonprofit Industrial
   Complex <https://www.blackagendareport.com/node/22247>”. *Black Agenda
   Report*, January 21, 2015.
   58. ↩ George Ciccariello-Maher, “Chronicle of a Riot Foretold
   *Counterpunch*, June 29, 2010.
   59. ↩ Advance the Struggle. “Justice for Oscar Grant: A Lost Opportunity?
   *Advance the Struggle*, July 15, 2009.
   60. ↩ Netfa Freeman, “Movement Ferguson, Beware the Nonprofit Industrial
   Complex <https://www.blackagendareport.com/node/22247>”. *Black Agenda
   Report*, January 21, 2015.
   61. ↩ BOLD. “Board <https://boldorganizing.org/board/>”. *BOLD*.
   62. ↩ Borealis Philanthropy. “Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity
   63. ↩ BOLD (Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity) Funding Page
   64. ↩ “Let me be clear: we do not advocate violence in protests of any
   kind—not by any protester and not by police. We do not advocate or condone
   destruction of property. We believe in the value of human lives.” Reddit
   65. ↩ Patrick Reusse. “Stephen Jackson, other activists score with
   straight talk at Minneapolis City Hall rotunda
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, May 30, 2020.
   66. ↩ Adair Mosley. “Justice for George Floyd
   United Communities*, June 2, 2020.
   67. ↩ Greater Twin Cities United Way. “Corporate Partners
   <https://www.gtcuw.org/about-united-way/corporate-partners/>” .
   68. ↩ Kari Paul. “How Target, Google, Bank of America and Microsoft
   quietly fund police through private donations
   *The Guardian*, June 18, 2020.
   69. ↩ Minneapolis Department of Health & Family Support. “City of
   Minneapolis Weed & Seed Initiative
   70. ↩ Community Capacity Development Office, U.S. Department of Justice
   Office of Justice Programs. *Weed and Seed Implementation Manual
   71. ↩ Kristian Williams, “The other side of the COIN: counterinsurgency
   and community policing
   *Interface*, Vol 3, No 1, May 2011.
   72. ↩ “FBI recognizes Pillsbury United Communities for its service to
   diverse neighborhoods
   *Minneapolis Star Tribune*, December 15, 2014.
   73. ↩ Working Group on Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters. “Executive
   Summary of Recommendations
   74. ↩ R. T. Rybak. “I Was the Mayor of Minneapolis and I Know Our Cops
   Have a Problem
   *Benchmark Analytics*, June 2, 2020.
   75. ↩ August H. Nimtz. “The Graveyard of Progressive Social Movements:
   The Black Hole of the Democratic Party
   *MR Online*, May 9, 2017.
   76. ↩ Brian Schwartz, “How Joe Biden’s leading VP contenders stack up in
   the wake of protests over George Floyd’s death
   *CNBC*, June 1, 2020; Daniel Strauss, “’A national crisis’: how the
   killing of George Floyd is changing U.S. politics
   *The Guardian*, May 30, 2020; Nicholas Fandos, “Congress Plans Hearings
   on Racial Violence and Use of Force by the Police
   *New York Times*, May 29, 2020.
   77. ↩ Suzanne Gamboa, “Joe Biden pulls Julian Castro into campaign, asks
   for help to ‘tackle police reform’
   *NBC News*, June 2, 2020.
   78. ↩ Kelsey Snell, Claudia Grisales. “Pelosi Asks Black Caucus To Come
   Up With Police Reforms Following Protests
   *NPR*, June 2, 2020.
   79. ↩ Catie Edmondson, “Democrats Unveil Sweeping Bill Targeting Police
   Misconduct and Racial Bias
   *The New York Times*, June 8, 2020.
   80. ↩ Lisa Mascaro, “Police overhaul dims, but House Democrats push
   ahead on vote”. *Police One*, June 25, 2020.
   81. ↩ German Lopez, “The controversial 1994 crime law that Joe Biden
   helped write, explained
   *Vox*, June 20, 2019.
   82. ↩ Glen Ford, “The Movement Gets BIG—and Its Enemies Reveal Themselves
   *Black Agenda Report*, June 4, 2020.
   83. ↩ Danny Haiphong, “The Rebellion Against Police Repression Must
   Guard Against ALL Enemies, Whether Red, Blue, or Green
   *Black Agenda Report*, June 17, 2020.
   84. ↩ Justine Coleman, “Warren endorsed by Black Lives Matter
   co-founder’s Black to the Future Action Fund
   *The Hill*, February 20, 2020.
   85. ↩ “BLM’s #WhatMatters2020
   <https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-matters-2020/>”, *Black Lives Matter*.
   86. ↩ Louis Althusser, *On the Reproduction of Capitalism*.
   87. ↩ Barack Obama, “How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real
   June 1, 2020.
   88. ↩ Kim Parker, Juliana Menasce Horowitz, Monica Anderson. “Amid
   Protests, Majorities Across Racial and Ethnic Groups Express Support for
   the Black Lives Matter Movement
   *Pew Research Center*, June 12, 2020.
   89. ↩ TooFab Staff, “DC Protestors Drag Rioter Into Police Custody
   Fab*, June 1, 2020.
   90. ↩ Vincent Barone, “Accused Wendy’s arsonist Natalie White was
   Rayshard Brooks’ ‘girlfriend’: lawyer
   *New York Post*, June 23, 2020.
   91. ↩ Lisa Hagen, “Al Sharpton Calls for Aug. 28 March on Washington at
   George Floyd Memorial
   *U.S. News*, June 4, 2020.
   92. ↩ “#DefundThePolice <https://blacklivesmatter.com/defundthepolice/>”.
   *Black Lives Matter*, May 30, 2020.
   93. ↩ Miarame Kaba, “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police
   *The New York Times*, June 12, 2020.
   94. ↩ Sean Boynton, “What does ‘defund the police’ really mean? Experts
   say confusion harming progress
   <https://globalnews.ca/news/7069920/defund-police-confusion/>”. *Global
   News*, June 18, 2020; Amanda Arnold, “What Exactly Does It Mean to
   Defund the Police?
   *The Cut*, June 12, 2020; Andrew Ferguson, “‘Defund the Police’ Does Not
   Mean Defund the Police. Unless It Does
   *The Atlantic*, June 14, 2020.
   95. ↩ “Invest-Divest <https://m4bl.org/policy-platforms/invest-divest/>”.
   *Movement for Black Lives*.
   96. ↩ Mike Walker, “The difference between police defunding and police
   *Police One*, June 18, 2020.
   97. ↩ Emily Dixon, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Was Asked About Defunding
   the Police and Her Answer Went Viral
   *Marie Claire*, June 12, 2020.
   98. ↩ Scott Pham, “Police Arrested More Than 11,000 People At Protests
   Across The U.S.
   *BuzzFeed News*, June 2, 2020.
   99. ↩ Jan Ransom, “Despite Virus, Hundreds Arrested in Unrest Are Held
   in Cramped Jails
   <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/nyregion/nyc-protests-jail.html>”. *The
   New York Times*, June 4, 2020.
   100. ↩ Greg Doucette, George Floyd Protest Police Brutality Videos
   101. ↩ “Violence and controversies during the George Floyd protests
   102. ↩ Stephen Gandel, “At least 40 lawsuits claim police brutality at
   George Floyd protests across U.S.
   *CBS News*, June 23, 2020.
   103. ↩ Rainer Shea, “Intelligence leaks reveal just how ready the police
   state is to crack down on dissent
   June 25, 2020.
   104. ↩ Chris Brooks, “After Barr Ordered FBI to “Identify Criminal
   Activists Were Intimidated at Home and at Work”. *The Intercept_*, June
   12, 2020.
   105. ↩ Katie Warren and Joey Hadden, “How all 50 states are responding
   to the George Floyd protests, from imposing curfews to calling in the
   National Guard
   *Business Insider*, June 4, 2020.
   106. ↩ Dylan Lovan, Bruce Schreiner. “Investigators: Man fatally shot on
   night of protests was killed by Kentucky National Guard rifle
   *Military Times*, June 9, 2020.
   107. ↩ Maria Sacchetti, “Curfews follow days of looting and
   *The Washington Post*, June 1, 2020.
   108. ↩ Christina Wilkie, Amanda Macias. “Trump threatens to deploy
   military as George Floyd protests continue to shake the U.S.
   *CNBC*, June 1, 2020.
   109. ↩ FBI Counterterrorism Division. “(U) White Supremacist
   Infiltration of Law Enforcement
   110. ↩ Rachel E. Greenspan, “Oregon police told armed white men that
   they didn’t want to look like they were ‘playing favorites’ when they
   advised them to stay inside after curfew
   *Insider*, June 5, 2020.
   111. ↩ Craig Timberg, “As Trump warns of leftist violence, a dangerous
   threat emerges from the right-wing boogaloo movement
   *The Washington Post*, June 17, 2020.
   112. ↩ Rachel E. Greenspan, “Violent counter-protesters mobbed a
   small-town BLM demonstration in Ohio amid false rumors of antifa
   *Insider*, June 16, 2020.
   113. ↩ Lee Brown, “Men in Ku Klux Klan-style hoods crash Nevada Black
   Lives Matter rally
   *New York Post*, June 11, 2020.
   114. ↩ “KKK ‘leader’ charged for attack on Black Lives Matter protesters
   <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52973398>”. *BBC News*, June
   9, 2020.
   115. ↩ Kelly Weill, “The Far Right Is Stirring Up Violence at Seattle’s
   Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone
   *The Daily Beast*, June 16, 2020.
   116. ↩ Konstantin Toropin, “Another shooting in Seattle’s police-free
   autonomous zone kills man and critically injures boy
   *CNN*, June 29, 2020.
   117. ↩ “‘American Patriots’ are planning to retake the so-called Seattle
   “autonomous zone” from CHAZ insurrectionists
   *Law Enforcement Today*, June 16, 2020.
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