Saturday, September 5, 2020

Michael Forest Reinoehl, Servant of the People, Defender of Black Lives, Will Never Die!

Michael Forest Reinoehl, Servant of the People, Defender of Black Lives, Will Never Die!

By the Editorial Board
On Thursday night, September 3, a Federal Fugitive Task Force murdered Michael Forest Reinoehl, suspected of killing a Patriot Prayer affiliated fascist in Portland, Oregon. The killing of Reinoehl can only be considered an assassination at the hands of the police to send a political message, that defending Black lives and rebelling against reactionaries is now punishable by death.
Reineoehl is a hero, a father, a protester, a comrade who gave his life defending the movement. In an interview published by bourgeois media corporation Vice, Reinoehl told a journalist that he was acting in self-defense, and that the fascist Arron “Jay” Danielson, who had spent the evening attacking protesters, was believed to be drawing a knife on Reinoehl and a comrade he was with. The videos spread widely on the internet seemed to confirm Reinoehl’s account.
Aaron “Jay” Danielson was a fascist, and had been involved in acts of fascist street violence numerous times, this is well-documented. The annihilation of Danielson is a critical moment in the contemporary struggle against racist and reactionary violence. Reactionaries acting in official state capacity as well as those acting as civilians have claimed many lives of protesters: two in Kenosha and one in Austin with gun in hand. Now, the people are fighting back, knowing full well the situation is kill or be killed. On August 29, comrade Reinoehl did just that and brought swift and immediate people’s justice against the fascist menace which brings death to the people. For this he must be celebrated as a self-sacrificing hero. His blood has been spilled for the people, and the people will never forget it.

The political assassination of comrade Reinoehl by federal agents comes about a week after reactionary youth, Kyle Rittenhouse was allowed, to cross through police lines while armed and return home after murdering two protesters for Black lives. Rittenhouse was taken into custody without incident although he was known to be armed and had fled the state. The state, in its increasing reactionary trajectory holds one set of standards for the far right, who they protect and shelter like they did with the arrest of fascist Dylann Roof, and another for the people and their defenders.
The spark which has ignited the Black and pro-Black uprisings of the people is rooted in this fact—the imperialist state brings death to the people, and the people must fight or die under the crushing system that oppresses them. Comrade Reinoehl earned a hero’s death, his death is heavier than a mountain. Danielson, on the other hand, received a death in service to fascism, imperialism, and reaction, his death is lighter than a feather.
The political message sent by the bloodthirsty federal agents who killed Reinoehl in a calculated attack has a dual nature. It is designed to provoke fear among the people, telling them that they must allow fascists to slaughter them, and never fight back, or they too will be marked for death. On the other hand, death is a reality for Black people every day under the crushing weight of the imperialist system, and those who take the righteous position of siding with the people, are also marked for death, and now that this is clear, the people have nothing to lose but their chains, if death greets the movement, let the movement return in kind—assaulting the skies by bringing revolutionary violence against reactionary violence, by meeting imperialist war against the people, with people’s war against imperialism.

The People’s Forces Are Too Disorganized and Ill-equipped

This is an objective fact, the state and the non-state reactionaries collude at every opportunity to attack the people, and the people are at a disadvantage, the laws, culture, court, and police are all stacked against them. This is not discouraging to the militant.
With the correct strategy and tactics, with the correct political line, a small mainly unarmed force at a disadvantage can learn to fight in ways that they can overcome a superior military force. US imperialist failures across the world confirm this glorious fact, from Vietnam, where the US imperialists were met with the wrath of the people and revolutionaries and forced out, to Afghanistan, the longest war in US history, with no sign of victory for the imperialists, the people there too, rise with gun in hand against the strongest military in the world, and they do so victoriously.
In such conditions each side must fight in their own way, with the objective and subjective conditions in mind. US imperialism prefers a quick slaughter of those who rise against it, the people bide their time and prepare for calculated battles they are the most probable to win. The political demands of the belligerents are of great importance.
There is the political demand of the imperialist police forces, that is to maintain the system of racist oppression in the service of class society, with a divided working class. This is a hopeless and reactionary goal, the people cannot stand for it. The political demand of the people is real equal rights, an end to racist oppression and in the long-term—a better world only possible with socialist revolution, which alone can guarantee the equality of black people by attacking all social and economic inequaltiy over a long period of time. Capitalism is inherently unequal and cannot even practice the formal equality it so loudly proclaims, hence it can never accomplish true racial equality.
These political demands are antagonistic opposites, which demand violence. The people have been subjugated to reactionary violence, a low intensity war has been waged upon them for hundreds of years, and the people can only come closer to the fact that they have been misled, and they must rise in revolutionary violence.
While Rienoehl was acting in self-defense, it is also an offense, striking a small but meaningful blow at reaction, making it clear that fascists will be faced with guns from those who cannot accept fascism. In the strategic view, this kind of active defense is the stronger position than the tireless assaults from the police. The people will preserve their forces, one will sacrifice for many, and the more repression the state brings, the more the fires of rebellion will be stoked in the hearts of the people.
The important changes the people must make, should this work in their strategic interests, is that they must, with haste, turn their disorganization into organization. Active self-defense, or proactive community defense must not be left to individual initiative, or to spontaneity. This is the most critical lesson the people are learning through their rebellious activity. It is the duty of all revolutionaries to teach this.
Those like Reinoehl who are prepared to kill and die in service of the people must be organized better, the forces of the people must be concentrated in militarized units, they must draft plans for self-defense and pro-active community defense, just as commanders of any battle must draft plans and organize their troops. The state is already conducting warfare operations against the people and they must not be given the further advantage of going up against disorganized forces.
Finally, the right wing and the state are militarized, they have a great arsenal of weapons, and the people’s forces lack these, nothing is equal under imperialism, including access to firearms. This is not a strategic threat to the people, the people armed with courage, organization and revolutionary leadership can and will snatch the weapons from the hands of reaction and wield them in service of the people. In this way, from a strategic point of view, America is awash with weapons, and when organized, the forces of the people will use the enemy as their supply line, their armory.
With or without revolutionary organizing of the people, the blood will continue to flow, the forces of reaction bear down upon the people, and the people have no option but to fight. The task at hand is not so much the fighting, it goes without saying that when the enemy seeks to kill you, one has the right to preserve their lives by any means, that cannot be the main task, it is already carried out. The main task is then the need to organize this situation in the strategic interests of the people, by doing the patient work of creating the very organized forms that the people need to be victorious in this battle, long term. Those organic forms are the Communist Party, its Red Army and the United Front of all progressive and revolutionary forces that oppose the decrepit, backward and racist imperialist system.
With this strategic approach, the deaths of Comrades Like Reinoehl, Garrett Foster, Anthony Huber, and Joseph Rosenbaum are not just tragic losses, but valiant first steps on a very long march to victory, for socialism and against racism.

A First Glimpse of People’s Justice in Portland

By the Editorial Board
Update: Late Thursday night, it was reported that Michael Forest Reinoehl, the suspected shooter of fascist Aaron J. Danielson, was gunned down by police. This can only be seen as political retaliation against the people for defending themselves with revolutionary violence. Read Tribune’s response to this development here.

As the protest movement first ignited by the May Uprisings was beginning to wane,
Portland remained the site of the most consistently combative protests night-after-night complete with clashes with police and fascists. After the brutal shooting of Jacob Blake and subsequent murder of two anti-racist protesters by a fascist militia member in Kenosha helped spur a resurgence of militant protests, it is only fitting that the people have had one of their first tastes of People’s Justice at the site of these ongoing combative demonstrations.
On the night of August 29, a member of the fascist group Patriot Prayer was shot and killed on the streets of downtown Portland after a caravan of Trump supporting reactionaries decided to confront anti-police protesters by driving through the site of their demonstration, deploying mace and shooting paintballs as they passed through. Later that night, videos of the ongoing protest captured Aaron J. Danielson (also known as Jay Bishop) attempt to attack protesters with bear mace before two shots rang out and he fell to the ground, dying on the scene.
One of the eyewitnesses who captured the incident on camera reported that Danielson reached for his hip and began spraying a heavy dose of mace before he was shot; it should also be noted that Danielson was photographed carrying a knife on this hip earlier that day. While the ruling class media was quick to obscure the political nature of the altercation, video from the that night confirms that Danielson was identified by protesters as a pro-Trump reactionary and onlookers warned that he was grabbing for a bear mace cannister as he approached. At this point the identity of the protester who killed Danielson has not yet been confirmed.
While the actions of the unidentified gunman would likely pass for self-defense if it were a police officer or pro-government reactionary pulling the trigger, the legal argument for self-defense is not what is truly important here. The shooting should be viewed in the wider context of the protest movement for Black lives and its frequent clashes with racist, police-supporting reactionaries that have all too often resulted in the murder of activists. This event marks the first documented use of lethal force against a fascist attempting to menace and attack protesters, breaking with the previous pattern of returning fire once it is already too late. Regardless of whether the shooter is identified and/or prosecuted, the fact is that Danielson was guilty of being a fascist and was on the receiving on of People’s Justice in its most deadly form in the broad defense of the protest movement. These fascists have a long, documented history of terrorizing people  and it was only a matter of time until they were on the receiving end.
Danielson was wearing a hat with the logo of the fascist group Patriot Prayer when he was shot dead; the group’s leader, Joey Gibson, also confirmed that he was a member. Patriot Prayer, while attempting to downplay their fascistic politics by claiming they are simply Christian patriots, are known for seeking out violent confrontations with antifascist protesters and have allied themselves with other fascist groups like the Proud Boys to this end. The Portland rail stabber Jeremy Joseph Christian, who killed two people who tried to intervene as he verbally abused a Muslim passenger, had attended a Patriot Prayer rally only a month prior. The fascist group also has documented friendship with the Portland police, who have looked the other way as they violently attacked progressive activists and, in some cases, even given them advice on how to avoid arrest.
Donald Trump has continued to escalate his gestures to fascism in response to the shooting, tweeting “RIP Jay” along with a comment from another reactionary blaming “ANTIFA” for the violence. The significance of this action is twofold: on the one hand, Trump is showing clearly that he supports the civilian fascist movement’s use of terror against the movement for Black lives, further evidenced by the fact that he did not memorialize the two anti-racist protesters killed by a fascist militia member in Kenosha. He is also furthering his strategy of labeling ‘Antifa’ a terrorist group and, in turn, using that to label any and all combative or destructive protests as ‘domestic terrorism’ (as he has already  done in the cases of Portland and Kenosha) and impugn participants as ‘outside agitators’ and ‘terrorists.’
Likewise, the president of the police union in Portland has seized the opportunity to demand increased funding for the department as well as carte blanche to brutally put down protests under the guise of a “zero-tolerance” policy on violence. This “zero tolerance” position ignores the fact that the police are the most violent force in the clashes that have become common over the course of the mass rebellions against the police.
In an effort to erase the class character of Danielson’s politics, the ruling class media has promoted the line of his friends who claim that he was simply a “freedom-loving American” who was neither a radical nor an agitator. The truth is that he was a fascist who was actively terrorizing the movement for Black lives and knowingly sought out confrontation with protesters, making the mistake of bringing mace to a gunfight. Local ruling class media has also promoted an event memorializing Danielson this upcoming Saturday; it is likely that the demonstration will be another flashpoint in the street fight between left and right in Portland. They have even obscured the motivations for the shooting by being intentionally vague out of a fear of inspiring similar instances of People Justice against fascists.
Naturally, democratic politicians like Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Joe Biden were quick to blame Trump for the violence, while still condemning violence on ‘both sides,’ mirroring Trump’s previous responses to fascist violence. Their interest is in separating and isolating the most rebellious segments of the protest movement so they can maintain the ‘respectable’ image of the protests and claim an unearned ideological leadership over it.
Thankfully the largely unorganized and heavily anarchist-influenced protesters in Portland did not fall for this same trap. In footage from later that night, a woman speaking on a megaphone says, “Everybody needs to realize what’s going on in these streets. Our community can hold it’s own without police. We can take out the trash on our own. I am not sad that a fucking fascist died tonight.” The endorsement of People’s Justice over the reactionary ‘justice’ system of the state and the refusal to resort to condemning violence ‘on both sides’ shows the relatively advanced character of the protests there.
What we are seeing in Portland and across the country is the typical pattern of reaction: for every attempt at a progressive step forward, the reactionaries attempt to pull things back. As people in the US have taken to the streets in the tens of millions against the police and racist violence, these people have counterposed themselves against the movement for Black lives. They have made it clear that they believe the state is justified in its murder Black and poor working class people and are making it their job to aid the police in their efforts to violently suppress any seemingly progressive or left-wing protest. While they claim to cherish and defend ‘freedom,’ the fascist militias and other groups have an inherently anti-democratic nature and they function as an extralegal arm of repression, allied with the state and doing their fair share of the dirty work in terrorizing the people.
Every time the people rise up, the fascists with lash out with reactionary violence. This does not mean that the people shouldn’t rebel for fear of retaliation, in fact quite the opposite, it shows the these rebellions actually do threaten the state and its most reactionary allies and that instead of playing respectability politics to avoid blame, they should take a more proactive position in wielding revolutionary violence against these threats in order to put them down.
Self-defense has its natural limitations—by only acting in self defense the movement for Black lives yields the initiative to the fascists and allows them to strike first. This tactic is only useful for those interested in playing the victim and scoring sympathy points with a reactionary state that only cares about sustaining its own existence.
This was not the first shooting death at a protest and it certainly won’t be the last, however this incident stands out in that it is the first time that the protest movement has actively employed lethal violence against an enemy and exacted People’s Justice in an isolated case. It demonstrates the need for revolutionaries to see this as a life or death street battle fr our future and to take this militant energy and channel it into stable, organized bodies capable of waging People’s War against the Old State and its fascist lackeys. It is always right to rebel against reactionaries, and only through popularizing the idea of People’s Justice and taking the initiative tactically can the protest movement for Black lives reinvigorate the combative actions that ere so commonplace during the May Uprisings.

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