Blockades and Race Riot Fears

According to activists in Detroit, ten people this morning were arrested for blockading water shut-off trucks this morning. In case you’re not familiar with the Detroit water shut off, here’s a quick run-down. Not all of the activists are black, as one can see looking at the news footage, but they were in solidarity with a black people’s cause and led by a coalition of black and white leaders and preachers. And the water turn-offs continue.

And then we move across the country, to a small town in Southern California, Murrieta. White people there gathered to bemoan how they should not have to receive migrant and refugee children. They blockaded. They carried signs celebrating their nativism, and turning against Obama. They yelled in the opposition’s faces and called them names. And they succeeded, insofar as the buses were turned around. According to some resident friends, these white protesters – who used their bodies to reject brown children and brown mothers with their brown infants – claim victory because they were able to turn away present and future refugee children.  Five arrests were made out of hundreds of blockers – those for obstructing police. Not enough to clear the way for the buses.

Immigrants-rights protesters, though, who blockade buses leaving detention centers are arrested and the way is made clear for buses to continue the deportation process. This happens several times a year. These are white, brown and black people in solidarity with mostly brown people.

I’m also remembering another altercation and another blockade. This one of almost all-white militia members who stop federal agents from removing a white, racist cattle rancher on federal lands. A white cattle rancher who owed much money to the government and who obviously broke laws that he said he didn’t need to observe (as he doesn’t believe in the legitimacy of the federal government). How many arrests happened there? It obviously was not enough to gain access. The blockade was effective and indeed held out for months.

The water shut offs in Detroit are continuing to hit black families and black businesses while steering clear of white-run establishments like the Red Wings hockey arena and the Ford football stadium. Places where nobody lives, where water is not needed for survival and where in total over $30 million is owed to the water reclamation district. In effect, white businesses were effectually blockaded from water shut downs.

What is the justification for this discrepancy between how these blockades are handled by police and other security agents? I’m now remembering last year, when that one-man vigilante task force who lynched Trayvon Martin was let off the hook. And all these talking heads and even the president of the United States, himself a black man, urged black people to remain calm and news stations were anticipating something big from happening. But the anticipated race riots never materialized.

I think we’re learning this year that it’s not black and brown people and their allies we need to worry about. The governments and their security forces are treating white people and particularly anti-POC white people with kid gloves.

They’ve come to find that it’s not people of color that will start a race riot. It’s entitled white people they’re afraid of. It’s whites who would start a race riot.


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