On Saturday, April 7, Steve Roach, a cop with the Cincinnati police department, killed Timothy Thomas, a 19-year-old unarmed black man was running from him. He was the fifteenth black person killed by Cincinnati police since 1995. Though protests started out in the normal fashion, by Monday evening they had escalated into rioting. Protesters attacked, looted and burned shops, devastating a particularly noxious and intrusive yuppie enclave. Cars and cops were attacked with bricks and stones. Andy Noguiera, a cop who was “trying to quell disturbances”, was shot. The assailant fortunately got away, but sadly the cop was unharmed.
On Thursday, as the rioting continued, the mayor declared a curfew, calling for peace and an end to the violence. These hypocritical sentiments were echoed by self-proclaimed “religious and political leaders of the black community”. Of course, such calls are absurd in light of the blatant social war that ruling class is carrying out daily against the poor and black people of Cincinnati and throughout the world. The rioting was an expression of rage against this ongoing oppression. We must recognize that calls for peace in such a situation are nothing more than attempts of the ruling class to hide their social war under the guise of social consensus. This should make it quite clear whose side all political and religious leaders are really on.
Unfortunately for the ruling order, its armed flunkies seem to prefer open warfare. On Saturday, April 14, police attacked a funeral march for Timothy Thomas without any provocation. They fired rubber bullets and small caliber shot randomly into the parade of about 500 marchers, hitting and injuring some of the marchers. This should make it very clear that we are talking about a war that has been declared by those in power against all the exploited and excluded.
The purpose of this war is precisely to suppress revolt. So the uprising in Cincinnati must be recognized as an act of courage. No doubt there were excesses throughout these days of rioting. This is inevitable when the exploited revolt, and those who only want a clean, safe revolution will always be disappointed that when the exploited revolt they don’t play by the rules. In the face of the ongoing attack of the ruling order, it is better that the exploited classes rise up against the outrages of power and make mistakes than that they continue to passively suffer them. This rioting in Cincinnati was an uprising of life against the imposition of death by the ruling order. It is time that anarchists developed a projectual basis for intervention in such situations and this means moving out of the safe enclaves of the anarchist subculture. Otherwise we will remain ineffectual cheerleaders.