A public workers' strike in Germany. May 1, International Workers' Day. Hundreds of cheering workers march along carrying banners. One of them reads: "Congratulations LA!"
Throughout the world millions of workers recognize the LA rebellions as something that is good for them, too. Like the German workers we, too -- American students and working people -- should welcome and support the rebellions in Los Angeles and other major US cities.
They were touched off by the acquittal of the four racist LA cops whose brutal beating of Rodney King could not be denied because millions have seen it. In a verdict worthy of South Africa or Nazi Germany, the jury found the cops were only "doing their job." Ironically, the jury was right: the cops' job is to keep the most oppressed and exploited section of the black working class in their place by a constant reign of terror. The King verdict was just the last and most blatant outrage that released the floodgates of anger.
It is always inspiring when oppressed people rise up in fury. Rebellions such as this lift the cloak of propaganda and respectability that masks the naked horror of exploitation and murder, and let us see the rage and despair this oppression causes. It would have been terrible if, faced with the King verdict, there had been no rebellions. Like the intifada of the Palestinian workers against Israeli fascism, the 15-year uprisings in the South African ghettos against apartheid, and the Soviet workers' recent strikes and demonstrations against the brutal attack on their standard of living by the Yeltsin regime, the rebels of Los Angeles, Atlanta, Sacramento, and other black working-class ghettos deserve our unqualified support.
If the Caterpillar worker's, who recently had a sell-out contract rammed down their throats by the United Auto Workers, had instead used the militancy and willingness to break the law, they -- and we -- would be much better off. If college students are ever to roll back skyrocketing tuitions; if American workers are ever to begin to beat back the cuts in jobs, wages, and health benefits that have slashed our standard of living and are destroying our children's lives, we will have to show some of the militancy and defiance of the law that the black ghetto residents have shown.
Anti-cop, anti-government -- not anti-white
The media have abandoned any pretence at "objectivity" and have done their best to portray the rebellions as anti-white rampages or as "senseless violence," and to help "quiet things down." These are the same media that sympathetically portray nationalist revolts in Eastern Europe and fascist Afghani guerrillas, but never fail to depict strikes in the US in an anti-worker light.
As usual in crises, the media have once again shown that they follow the government party line, almost as though they were government propaganda agents. In fact, just a year ago, during the Gulf War, the media were also feeding up US government propaganda. In times of crisis, the media show themselves for what they really are -- not independent seekers of the truth, but obedient servants to oppressive power. Another example: since April 24 there has been a sit-in at Brown University, led by a multi-racial student group, to demand more admission of black and low-income students. The media have ignored it totally.
The main aspect of the rebellions -- not "riots" -- has been fury at the cops, the visible repressive force in the cities, and at the politicians. It is a significant and hopeful sign that the revolt occurred in the US city that has had a black mayor for the longest time. For it was after the ghetto rebellions of the 1960s that the Democratic Party moved to put black politicians in charge of the major US cities to "keep them cool. …