By Ed Dalton

On September 3, US Marshals surrounded and killed Michael Forest Reinoehl, suspected shooter of fascist Aaron J. Danielson. Tribune of the People reported this act as an assassination, and now a witness has come forward, confirming Reinoehl did not draw a gun and was given no warning by the federal police before being gunned down with dozens of shots.

Nate Dingess, a resident at the apartment complex where the assassination took place, witnessed the whole interaction and has come forward with what he saw despite fearing retaliation from fascists of either the state or civilian variety. Dingess told the ruling class-owned media that Reinoehl was not holding a gun as federal agents claimed. He was actually holding a cell phone and eating candy as he was walking casually to his vehicle.

The story recounted by the witness is one of extrajudicial slaying with political motivation and cannot be considered anything else. Dingess states that as the US Marshals began rapid firing without announcing themselves, Reinoehl ducked behind his vehicle, pinned by agents who continued firing. Dingess further stated that the police waited around before calling for medical aid, implying that they were coordinating to ensure his death.

Police and federal agencies have yet to produce any evidence to support any of their claims that Reinoehl either drew or fired a weapon and the matter is still “under investigation” according to the local Sheriffs who are allegedly conducting an investigation. It is possible to quickly determine if the weapon police claim was in the possession of Reinoehl had been fired, yet authorities have not been forthcoming with this information. They also claim that video of his assassination does not exist.

The statements from Dingess are compelling. It is highly probable that there were cameras present, including body and dashboard cameras on the agents, and that the police were using a tactic of floating disinformation to the media anonymously in order to spin the story early on, hoping interest would die down before the truth comes out, if it ever does.

“Given the political sentiment of the deceased, and the national climate regarding police shootings, the investigation ought to be handled by an outside organization without ties to law enforcement, if it can really be considered fair and neutral,” Luke Laughlin, Dingess’ lawyer told The Oregonian. “The law requires, and Reinoehl’s family and the public deserve, transparency and accountability. At a time when public outcry over police killings is at its peak in this country, it is imperative that the circumstances of Reinoehl’s death not be swept aside.”

Fake Encounters as Retaliatory Action

India, which claims to be ‘the worlds largest democracy,’ has carried out the policy of fake encounters in their reactionary effort to suppress the People’s War waged by the Communist Party of India (Maoist). A fake encounter is a situation set up by police where suspected revolutionaries are gunned down without hesitation in a way that mirrors the extra-judicial assassination of Reinoehl.

The basis scenario for a fake encounter is an ambush where police fire first without announcing themselves, killing a suspect instead of making an arrest. The police and military will claim that it was a gunfight, without evidence to support these claims.

A notable fake encounter was conducted against Cherukuri Rajkumar, known as Comrade Azad, when police ambushed him in Andhra Pradesh in 2010, killing him as well as a journalist. Azad was the spokesman for the CPI (Maoist) at the time of his death.

Another example took place a year later with the assassination of Mallojula Koteswara Rao, known as Comrade Kishenji of the CPI (Maoist) in the West Midnapore district. Both of the slain comrades were defended by the poet and now political prisoner Varavara Rao, who exposed the role of the state fabrication in the form of fake encounters.

Reactionaries are alike all over the world, they seek to drown the struggles of the people in blood, and are at the same time forced to attempt to legitimize their slayings with fake encounters. Revolutionaries and servants of the people can expect no quarter from their enemies, and should not give any either.

Fake encounters are not new for the US police either. In 1968, the youngest Black Panther “lil” Bobby Hutton was killed in what amounts to a fake encounter by the Oakland Police Department. Hutton was shot close to a dozen times by OPD when he tried to surrender. Eldridge Cleaver who was with Hutton at the time only escaped the same fate because he had the forethought to remove all of his clothing so that it could not be claimed that he was armed. Hutton was only 17 years old when he was murdered and has since become a symbol of the militancy of Black youth in the fight for their liberation.

What the reactionary state says with fake encounters is that there is no peaceful resolution to the contradiction between those who act on their conscience and the Old State, meaning that they will murder and there is no means of surrender. The conclusion is a simple one in the minds of most revolutionaries—that it is better to die fighting.

Fake encounters are especially useful to reaction when those they are targeting have popular support, and a good chance of defeating the charges against them, so the state sees a greater benefit in getting rid of them entirely. It is the support of the people, and the powerful words of committed fighters that the state fears the most. The state seeks to make a negative example of Reinoehl, broadcasting ‘fight back and get killed,’ but all they have done is given the people a hero, a role model, and example of self-sacrifice in the interests of the people’s struggles. In time their hideous crimes will all be exposed.

Reinoehl made the ultimate sacrifice in service of the people and in the defense of Black lives. Fascists must not be allowed to torment the people without any fear of reprisal, and those who bravely take up the call to stop fascists face death in the process—they deserve to be immortalized in the struggle.