This is a continuation of the discussion of the speech my friend Ronnie James gave at a teach-in, August 22. The Police State and Why We Must Resist.
I had not known who was organizing Black Lives Matter in Des Moines. Recently I heard of some arrests of BLM protestors. So I’m glad Ronnie made me aware of the Des Moines BLM event where he spoke.
An important aspect of working for justice is knowing who you can trust. Who not only represents the causes you believe in, but also whether their actions align with your principles, how they go about doing the work to create change. And of course that goes the other way. People need to learn about you to see the same thing, whether they can trust you.
Earlier this year I helped organize a rally to support the Wet’suwet’en peoples in British Columbia as they try to stop the construction of a pipeline through their pristine territory.
Ronnie, who I hadn’t met before, joined us. He later accepted my Facebook friend request and we got to know each other via Facebook messages. This is often how people working on justice issues find each other, and build our networks.
I am deeply impressed by what I am learning about Ronnie’s work and Des Moines Mutual Aid. For example, “So I work with a dope crew called Des Moines Mutual Aid, and on Saturday mornings we do a food giveaway program that was started by the Panthers as their free breakfast program and has carried on to this day.”
He’s also involved with DSM BLM Rent Relief , “a collectivist response to the existing housing crisis that was exacerbated by COVID-19 and a paralyzed government. This fund was formed in the relationship between Black Liberation Movements and mutual aid actions in Des Moines.” https://www.facebook.com/DSMBLMRentRelief/
Des Moines Mutual Aid is feeding the hungry, and inviting strangers in (rent relief).
Matthew 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Historically, the police and other law enforcement were formed to protect the interests and property of the moneyed classes from the rest of the People. This “property” included the bodies of the enslaved, and was the justification for brutally repressing the righteous and inevitable revolts born from the atrocity of slavery. This same philosophy of endless possession was the bloodlust that fueled the “Indian Wars” and the theft of Indigenous land and bodies that continues to this day.
Today, this same war of conquest, the repression of the many for the benefit of the few, continues.
Currently, Des Moines Mutual Aid and it’s many accomplices have been fighting a battle with the city of des moines and it’s foot soldiers trying to repress our houseless population from utilizing unused “property”. The basic universal need of a place to rest and be safe is trumped by the need of the wealthy, and the wannabe wealthy, to control every inch they can possess. It is a war for control, and the pigs have enlisted willingly.
This same war of conquest is currently using the mass incarceration machine to instill fear in the populace, warehouse cheap labor, and destabilize communities that dare to defy a system that would rather see you dead than noncompliant. This is the same war where it’s soldiers will kill a black or brown body, basically instinctively, because our very existence reminds them of all that they have stolen and the possibility of a revolution that can create a new world where conquest is a shameful memory.
As bleak as this is, there is a significant amount of resistance and hope to turn the tide we currently suffer under. We stand on the shoulders of giants that have been doing this work for centuries, and there are many lessons we can learn from.
The first, and possibly the most important, is that it was not always this way, which proves it does not have to stay this way.Ronnie James, The Police State and Why We Must Resist