by Silas Weatherby
Many activists may not know we were supposed to rise up in national “Day of Rage” actions on July 15, but that is because the call was not really directed toward us. I believe we should look at the “Day of Rage” call, supposedly from “Anonymous,” as a COINTELPRO operation intended to damage growing support for Black Lives Matter (BLM) and to help the state evaluate how much panic could be induced from a completely manufactured threat.
Here’s the video. Be aware that the first minute shows the murders of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
In the weeks before July 15, millions of people watched the police murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in gruesome color. Millions of activist and non-activist people were appalled by these murders, and support for Black Lives Matter was growing strongly around the country. Even two major shootings of police by former U.S. military people did little to raise support for police.
As there was no way to publicly justify the actions of police in these murders, I think the “Day of Rage” was the state’s attempt to drive people away from Black Lives Matter. Let’s take it step by step.
The first thing is that Anonymous almost never calls for a specific action, so the call is suspicious. Also the “Day of Rage” video was not broadcast on the Anonymous Official channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/AnonymousWorldvoce.
The Snopes site quoted Anonymous@YourAnonNews, saying, “There is no such thing as an ‘Anonymous day of rage.’ TheAnonMessage isn’t a credible source; he has been spreading false information before.”
Second, whoever produced the video had a high professional level of video and political skills and was able to specify appropriate rally sites in 37 cities. So one might think it was a valid “Anonymous” video. Or it could have been produced by state agents.
We should note that few people actually watched the video and no credible political organizations supported it. In fact, most groups, including BLM groups, specifically said they did not have anything to do with it, and few activists were even aware that demonstrations had been called.
It looks like the response was completely engineered by federal, state and local forces, from the Pentagon on down. Locally, the San Francisco and Oakland police manufactured the scare, closing down courthouses, businesses and schools on the afternoon of Friday, July 15. This happened all over the country, with a few news sources quoted below:
- The Dallas Police Department, which is on high alert following the recent sniper attack that left five officers dead, is preparing for a Friday protest, despite one not being confirmed, reports the Dallas Morning News.
- Local businesses near Lafayette Square in New Orleans are advising employees to go home early to avoid any trouble, and New Orleans Police Department spokeswoman Dawne Massey said officers would respond if a protest materialized, according to the Advocate.
- The Department of Defense is also taking the matter seriously, sending out a “threat advisory” this week “informing DOD personnel that a series of protests has been scheduled to be conducted across the United States on July 15, 2016,” the New York Post reported.
- In response to the announcement listing the St. Louis Arch as another protest site, the Scott Air Force Base in Illinois recommended “all SAFB personnel to avoid the Arch during this time due to potential protests and criminal activity,” in a post on its Facebook page.
The first I heard of this “Day of Rage” was when a friend who worked in a San Francisco court emailed that she had been sent home at noon on Friday in case of “disturbances” caused by the group Anonymous. After I watched the “Anonymous” video, looked around Facebook and checked on the Snopes anti-rumor site, it was clear that the “Day of Rage” was, at the least, a hoax.
I think the “Day of Rage” was the state’s attempt to drive people away from Black Lives Matter.
But when I got to the Oakland YMCA at 2:00 on the 15th, I was told it was closing at 3:00 because of potentially dangerous demonstrations. Huh? I talked to managers there, said the video was a hoax, and they responded that they had been called that morning by Oakland police, who told them the potential danger was too great to ignore and that the Y should be evacuated.
By 2:00, Y staff had mobilized to call and email the parents of 150 summer-camp kids to tell them they had to pick up kids at 3:00 instead of 5:00 on a Friday afternoon. Clearly this will not cause those parents to be more sympathetic to mass civil actions against police killings.
They are going to be pissed off at activists because they were massively inconvenienced and believe their kids were threatened. Adult members were rushing to leave the gym; one man’s reaction was that he was glad to get the warning so he could leave before his car was trashed.
This national disruption of businesses, courts, schools – and the Oakland Y – was only accomplished by specific directives from federal, state and local police, including the Department of Defense. Given that the state keeps a very sophisticated watch on all our resistance organizations, it is not believable that they mistakenly chose to highlight THIS call as a potential national threat.
And given the current world situation of imperial bombings, actual terrorist acts, mass shootings and fascist pushback, the effect and probable intent of the warning was to make people fearful and blur the line between terrorist acts, disturbed people and political protest.
I think most of us want to build a movement where large numbers of people continue to go into the streets to combat police murders, and we want a much larger group of people to understand and support these actions. This fake communique – and the police elevation of it to a national threat – leads people to the impression not that there are mass actions for justice happening, but that there are vast numbers of crazed anarchists and armed Black people sitting around like Manchurian candidates waiting to be activated by an “Anonymous” video. Which further blurs the line between political protest, crazy people and terrorism.
This national disruption of businesses, courts, schools – and the Oakland Y – was only accomplished by specific directives from federal, state and local police, including the Department of Defense.
So I think we should evaluate this “Anonymous Day of Rage” as a state setup from the beginning, designed to hurt the growing movement against police murders and as a trial balloon to see how many people could be panicked by a completely manufactured threat. Both goals seem to have been achieved.
Keeping on this thread, the article on the “Day of Rage” by Kim LaCapria on the Snopes site amplified the fears engendered by the original call: http://www.snopes.com/2016/07/11/anonymous-day-of-rage-protests-2016/.
The article formally says the “Anonymous” call is a false rumor, but the first thing Snopes put on their web site is a photo of a huge faceless Black person holding a Black Lives Matter sign, with the entire background in flames and “Kill Cops” graffiti visible on the left. Over the bottom of the photo is a black banner in doomsday type saying “Days of Rage Protests Are Scheduled for July 15th in These American Cities.” Whoa!
Then the uncredited intro – which actually comes from the far right website Freedom Outpost – says: “That sparked a war on law enforcement officers and a nationwide spree of violence against cops. Some people are even more extreme, declaring open season on white people in general.”
Essentially, Snopes, in the process of telling us that the Anonymous “Day of Rage” is probably fake, gives a clear impression that Black Lives Matter is organizing for a war to kill cops on July 15. I’m not sure what credibility Snopes has, but this article contributed substantially to the disinformation started by the “Day of Rage” video.
I think we should evaluate this “Anonymous Day of Rage” as a state setup from the beginning, designed to hurt the growing movement against police murders and as a trial balloon to see how many people could be panicked by a completely manufactured threat. Both goals seem to have been achieved.
The state is losing the hearts and minds of many people because of police murders and resistance to them. It is reasonable to say that this “Anonymous” call was a setup, and there will be more.
COINTELPRO (FBI Counterintelligence Program), by whatever name, still exists and is being used to hurt our movements. While it is damaging to irresponsibly brand individuals, groups or communiques as state sponsored without solid evidence, we need to be able to look critically at every call, evaluate every action, and find ways to understand and defend against propaganda that actually IS instigated by the state.
While we are thinking about COINTELPRO, check out the article by Dan Noyes published by ABC Channel 7 News on Wednesday, Aug. 3: http://abc7news.com/news/officers-warned-about-possible-attacks-during-black-august/1456140/. Noyes uses an extremely dramatic drawing by a prisoner to lead into a “leaked” report that the Black Guerilla Family plans to kill police and prison guards during August.
This is classic COINTELPRO use of the corporate media to spread pro-police and anti-Black propaganda, and it is now being used to lock down and repress prisoners across the country.
Silas Weatherby, a Bay Area activist against repression, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.