Long Live Keith Scott!—Two Year Anniversary of the Charlotte Riots

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At the action pictured above, a Communist gave a short speech. We have reposted most of it here:

On September 20, 2016 before 4 PM, Keith Lamont Scott was fatally shot by CMPD (Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department). His wife was nearby and recorded the moments leading up to his murder. What followed would change Charlotte a great deal temporarily and a small but significant amount permanently.

The police claimed that Keith had a gun. Whether he had a gun or not became a large talking point surrounding his murder. The first night of protests rumors circulated that it was not a gun that he had been holding but instead was a book. The book vs. gun argument became a distraction from the real issue at hand which is the slow genocide of black people at the hands of capitalism. While the ‘book’ narrative was circulated by protestors in an honest attempt to support Keith’s family, it pandered to liberal arguments about violence. Black people do not need to be unarmed to be deserving of life. While it is very possible that the police planted the gun on Keith Scott, it is also possible that they did not. If he did indeed have a gun then it becomes clear that the police killed him because he was a black man with a gun: something the system has long feared. This would not at all excuse his murder: guns belong in the hands of the oppressed. We are not as invested in the “he was unarmed” narrative in this case—we wholeheartedly support the arming of the working class!

Brentley Vinson, the pig who evaded any prosecution for murdering Keith, was also black. A pig is a pig! Capitalism and the police forces that mirror it have increasingly become intersectional trying to convince the Black Nation that this somehow means they represent them. But as the Charlotte Riots and those like it have shown, many among the working class reject this notion and see right through it!

In the wake of Keith’s murder the people rioted and a state of emergency was declared. It started with a few brave mostly black people who just as darkness fell surrounded the last cop car stationed in front of Keith’s neighborhood. The pig car, now isolated, was unable to move as at first about forty and later hundreds of people surrounded it. Rebels victoriously mounted the car and a true occupation had begun! The people spontaneously took Harris Blvd, then I-85, burned the contents of freight trucks, vandalized cop cars, and kicked back tear gas thrown by the cops, all of which we unapologetically support. The rivers overflowed as the disorganized fury of the masses was unleashed. The name most masses in our area know the uprising by, the Charlotte Riots, is one we support and are uninterested in renaming to fit our taste buds. The rebellion was violent, and that violence is justified. As many know around 100 people were arrested in connection with the riots and their aftermath.

Now the narrative of the Charlotte Riots is controlled either by the police or by reformists. In the era in which those who claim the continuation of the Charlotte Riots are either doing “teach ins” or on city council, we must recenter those brave fighters for our class who initiated the riots. They are already much more militant than the so called left who simply tails behind them. Our hearts extend to the people of Charlotte who made sacrifices in the name of Keith Scott and we are forever indebted to their struggle.

What the Charlotte Riots showed spontaneously we must channel in organized actions. Let the legacy of Keith Scott and the people of Charlotte live on through action!

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Charlotte’s Riots were initiated by proletarians and to a minor degree lumpenproletarians. Many average working-class people were willing to sacrifice their jobs and reputations within the capitalist order to make a statement of resistance. While the action was undoubtedly spearheaded by black people, from the beginning there existed a real solidarity with the struggle from brown and white people, who marched and faced off the pigs linked elbow to elbow with their class siblings.

While there did exist a Movement for Black Lives here before then, credit for the militant riots belongs not to movement people but to advanced masses. Just as in Ferguson, Baltimore, and other US cities, social media was the fuel to the fire of rebellion. Without Facebook it is quite possible the rebellion would not have happened at all. Social media along with bourgeois media (the press) resulted in scapegoating those the system saw as leaders, giving them false felony charges just so they could pin and take down a couple black faces on behalf of the whole rebellion. We extend our deepest solidarity to those who received such charges in their fight against these charges and hope that all are dropped in court.

The exploitation of the Third World at the hands of capitalism-imperialism has been largely mirrored domestically, from the US ruling class upon the Black Nation. As an oppressed nation within the confines of the US prisonhouse, the Black Nation has always been at the forefront of struggles not only against white supremacy but of struggles for our class in general, especially in the US South. Over the years radical demands for black self-determination have been watered down by the bourgeoisie into demands for the lowest possible reform. Black lives have never mattered to capitalism, a system built squarely on their backs. Instead of demanding temporary justice for Keith Scott, we must build a revolution in his name along with the millions of other members of the Black Nation which this system has murdered and exploited.

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From the riots there are a few notable experiences which are easy to recall. In one instance a protestor from Ferguson was hit by a pig in an ATV. Not only was he injured, but he was then charged with assault among other bogus charges! This was caught on video, and those that videoed the pig assaulting him were also targeted for arrest. In another instance a rogue cop broke discipline of the CMPD organization and stepped out of the police line to chase a militant protestor. This went on for minutes, and really exposed to all watching that, while the police were certainly more militarized, there was a degree to which they were really shaken up by the rebellion. In yet another instance, rumors spread (not just among activists but on the ground by masses) that the cop who had really shot Keith Scott had been white and not black. This was yet another tactic meant to divert the attention of the people and break them up, regardless of the rumor’s source.

Traffic had been completely stopped due to rebels’ occupation of I-85 on the first night. Hundreds of people were grouped on the hill and pouring into the highway. After what must have been over an hour, riot cops arrived on the scene and were dropped off from the other side to advance toward the rebels. In a retreat those militant rebels still occupying the streets were forced to run for their lives as the cops advanced. Many had to climb up a 15-foot wall between the freeway and the grass. People who up until that point had been strangers were now depending on one another to make it up over the wall and onto the grass, pulling one another up by their fingertips. This was another beautiful moment which made it clear in a very tangible sense that we need solidarity. Later, the National Guard was flown in and a curfew was put into place. It was on these nights that the riots while still alive would die down.

The landscape of the neighborhood where the riots first popped off has changed quite a bit in two years’ time. Fences have been built, streets have been reorganized, and the parking lot where Keith was murdered seems to have been removed and grafted over completely. The owners of the neighborhood (not the people who live in the homes but those who collect rent) as well as the cops hope that with this gesture they may have erased the people’s memory and washed away any lasting effects of rebellion. This same washing away has quelled and ended rebellions for years through fear mongering and legalist diversion.

In the face of these attacks and attempts to break up anything in the future that could come close to the Charlotte Riots, we must hold strong and persist in its force. While there was tactical unity in the streets, there was no centralized power calling the shots of the rebellion, and it ebbed and flowed with the energy of the masses. Due to its courageous yet disorganized character the more centralized, more violent force (the police) did ultimately overtake the rebellion. We say this not to dishearten but as a sober acknowledgement of the limits of disorganized violence. To truly continue the spirit of the rebellion and its concrete demands we point towards organized revolutionary violence against capitalism. We are already aware of the problem and must end it once and for all. Where the revolutionary movement exists, there must exist mass organizations who not only cultivate rebellion but who are there ready to unite with the masses when they do inevitably rise up again.

—Red Guards Charlotte, September 20th, 2018

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