Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin
Black People Should Rebel By Any Means Necessary
So, I have been approached several times about what I think about Ferguson by activists who say that all street protests are “useless”, ineffective and should be stopped, and we should just go straight over to armed self-defense. I do not think that is the only lesson to be drawn from the Ferguson insurrection.
First, let me say that the insurrection in Ferguson was a local protest, although it has had national and even international effects. The fact is that we have no ability to control such events, and should not seek to “take them over”. We also are not strong enough at this moment, nor well armed or well organized enough to go over strictly to armed self-defense alone. We need to win the masses of our people over to the idea of challenging the cops, the white ruling class, and its police state with means other than pacifism, while we eventually go beyond mass unarmed street fighting. Street fighting is an important stage, if done properly; it actually becomes a new form of protest.
We also need to educate the masses of people why they should fight, and not listen to Al Sharpton, Obama, or the old middle class civil rights misleaders and collaborators with the government. Those forces should be exposed, challenged and smashed. Can it be done? Just remember this about the Black Power movement of the 1960’s, where the youth were rebelling in the streets of hundreds of American cities, and the later rise of the Black Panther Party all came while Dr. M.L. King, Jr. was still alive, and the civil right establishment was still in existence.
King and nonviolent civil right tendencies were superseded at the time as leaders and the movements that the people trusted. In fact, Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael) and H. Rap Brown had national reputations equal to Dr. King’s, even though the white gov’t and its media were dismissive of and in fear of the Black Power movement, and promoted Dr. King exclusively. I saw this with my own eyes.
To me, there are two extremes: the pacifists and the gov’t who both call for “peaceful” demonstrations”, and on the other side, those activists who claim that all demonstrations are ineffective, and we should abandon this tactic. We should abandon government-controlled, scripted, pacifist demonstrations, that I totally agree with, but when the masses rise up in rebellion, we should support that.
The Ferguson insurrection shows us that it is possible to have disruptive demonstrations over many days, and give in to neither extreme, even in the face of an army of cops and middle class pacification agents among the demonstrators. They showed us that a militant demonstration can be an event to communicate with and inspire the entire world, and a denunciation of the cops and the USA government.
They showed us that we can undermine the state, government and the cops through such demonstrations, and that even though they are not a revolution, they inspire the masses to revolt. They are an essential stage. They also expose like nothing else can and has done, that the gov’t has been giving massive militant armaments to the local police to try to carry out police state measures, and transform the police into an army on the local level.
We should join mass rebellions which express both the deep seated hatred of white supremacy and police state terror, and carry them to a higher level militarily and politically, if we can. What happened to Michael Brown has happened thousands of time to Black youth in this country, the only thing different is that the people in his community decided to fight back. We need to have more, not less youth-based community protests all over the country like the Ferguson insurrection, while we change over to armed propaganda units taking full advantage of “open carry” laws.
We need clear strategies for victory at this stage: organize mass movements on the local level for community control of the police, and also begin the effort of dismantling of urban police forces, demilitarizing and disarming local police, and put all such power for armed forces/self defense in the hands of a community-based militia/self-defense force. Otherwise, we allow the political pimp like Al Charlatan and other to take over the agenda, and have the masses to wait and depend on federal intervention. The recently-created Huey P. Newton Rifle Club and the Socialist Rifle Association may be showing us a way forward, and we need to build groups like this all over the country whatever the immediate politics.
This is a start, but we need to ultimately go over to a full-fledged Black Partisan Militia and other such broader-based armed protest movements. I actually think that Black Autonomy Federation and all revolutionary social change movements should begin such preparations now, while still organizing around other issues to challenge the gov’t. in this period. This is my own idea about all this, which is what was asked for, not that of any organization, and it is certainly not presented as long-term strategy, just in the moments in the wake of Ferguson’s insurrection. It is not the final word, even armed self-defense is not enough, we need a revolution, but it is something that we need to be busy with in this immediate period.