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Stop political repression: police spying and the March on the RNC 2012

Editorial by Freedom Road Socialist Organization |
August 21, 2015
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The Freedom Road Socialist Organization denounces the lies and exaggerations made by Major Marc Hamlin of the Tampa Police in an August 3, 2015 news article. We oppose police spying, police wrecking and political repression of the people's movements. It is outrageous that police claim they managed to “join” and “take over” activist groups at the protests against the Republican National Convention in 2012.

The Coalition to March on the RNC, with an impressive list of endorsers demanding, “Good jobs, affordable education, health care, equality and peace,” led the largest of several events protesting the Republicans and their right-wing agenda of hate and war. The Freedom Road Socialist Organization played an active role in the Coalition to March on the RNC in 2012, just as it did in 2008 when protesters marched on the RNC in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

We are well aware that police intelligence operations began soon after we announced our plans to march on the Republicans the year before the RNC.

We also know the dedicated and hard-working activists who led the meetings, press conferences, planning sessions and the big march itself. While we are open and democratic with many people participating, the leadership of the Coalition to March on the RNC consisted of a close-knit group of young friends. They went to college together and knew each other since before they were even interested in politics. While many activists came forward and played important roles in organizing against the Republicans, we are confident in our leadership and clear about the empty boasting by the police.

The leaders of the Coalition to March on the RNC made plans that were both politically and tactically sound, and successfully carried them out even when the state tried to impose a ‘clean zone’ around the RNC itself. The march was a big success and saw virtually no deviation from the plan. We captured the political spotlight that day, despite hurricane rains that caused the Republicans to cancel their opening day. The media covered our march with its people’s demands instead of Mitt Romney’s right-wing agenda of the 1%.

However, this does not prove that the police or other law enforcement agencies did not send spies and provocateurs into organizations mobilizing against the RNC that year – in fact, we know that the enemy has infiltrated the movement before and certainly conducted surveillance of social justice organizers in 2012. No one who loves peace and justice is unaware of the heavy amount of surveillance and repression of activists and community organizers carried out on a daily basis by the state and its agents. What is important is to take a stand against disruption and repression, and for activists to look out for each other and show solidarity with those under attack.

The repression of those who fight for peace and justice is part of the long history of state repression that organizers and revolutionaries, often anarchists and communists, face. This account serves as a backdrop for important conclusions to be drawn about the nature of state repression today and the enemy's spying on the 2012 RNC protests in Tampa, Florida.

The police and law enforcement agencies hate activists and organizers who fight for a better world and will do anything to suppress them or stop them from achieving their goals. This fact was well known to those who organized in Tampa in 2012, and to other forces in movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter.

It is certain that the police sent spies to meetings, marches and rallies – with the purpose to disrupt, divide and destroy an open, democratic and progressive march and other protest events against the Republicans. It is even likely that some of the police spies stuck around after the march was over in Tampa, as was the case with police spy “Karen Sullivan” in Minneapolis-Saint Paul in 2008. If so, then they have failed to meet their objectives and instead have witnessed a growing people's movement in Florida and the rest of the country that is resistant to provocateurs, sabotage, co-option and wrecking by the enemies of the people.

The Coalition to March on the RNC's event was a huge success despite Tropical Storm Isaac soaking Tampa on the day of the big march. That day, veteran activists along with new organizers dealt a blow to the 1%, the imperialist class in the U.S. Just as police spies and all the forces of nature could not impede the march on the RNC in Tampa, so too will the oppressed and the working class ultimately emerge victorious against capitalism.