The Radical Left is exploiting the legitimate outrage of many Americans over the brutal killing of George Floyd on May 25th by Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with murder. George Floyd’s killing was shocking enough to millions of Americans to become the spark leftist revolutionaries were looking for to mobilize the masses. As Trevor Loudon, who has researched the radical left for more than 30 years, wrote on June 10th:
The killing of George Floyd was a gift to the communists. It was so egregious and so public that it was bound to provoke outrage. The communists seized on the event and magnified that anger to the point of mass violence. If Floyd had never died, the revolutionaries simply would have waited a few more days until the next opportunity inevitably arose.
The Black Lives Matter movement has socialist roots. It has followed in the footsteps of past radical black liberation movements, but with more intersectionality and the added benefit of current day social media to spread its word. Alicia Garza, the activist who co-founded Black Lives Matter, was railing against “a racialized capitalist society” back in 2015. She praised the “willingness of young people to reject respectability politics, to confront power (in the form of police) directly and militantly.” Garza was also a featured speaker at the Socialism 2017 conference in Chicago. But she and other Black Lives Matter leaders hoped to broaden the movement’s appeal by drawing attention to purported multidimensional racism against black males and females beyond just the issue of alleged abuse by the police. Yet while the Black Lives Matter movement grew as new chapters were formed, it was not growing into the popular nationwide movement its founders were hoping for until the protests of Floyd’s killing erupted. The Black Lives Matter movement suddenly found itself crossing over into the consciousness of mainstream America as a seemingly noble cause against “systemic racism” that “privileged whites” could no longer ignore. However, Black Lives Matter’s socialist underpinning remains. And lacking its own disciplined structure, its alliances with more tightly organized socialist groups remain as firm as ever.
The Freedom Road Socialist Organization-Fightback (FRSO-FB) is one of the radical left socialist organizations that have played a major role behind the scenes in fomenting militancy in the streets following the killing of George Floyd. This self-admitted “Marxist-Leninist organization” has connections to Black Lives Matter through the Communist-inspired National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) that FRSO-FB helped to bring back to life last year. Another radical left socialist organization involved with Black Lives Matter is the Liberation Road, which split off from FRSO-FB in 1999. The key difference between FRSO-FB and Liberation Road is that the latter seeks to infiltrate the U.S. electoral system from within while FRSO-FB sees more benefit in stirring up direct mass militant action outside of the system to bring about revolutionary change. The National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression is a key part of FRSO-FB’s strategy to enlist black activists in revolutionary liberation struggles in the United States and abroad.
AARPR was reconstituted in 2019 after FRSO-FB’s publication Fight Back News Service issued its “Call for a National Conference Reestablishing the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.” Initial sponsors of that conference included Communist Angela Davis, who was associated with the original version of NAARPR in the 1970’s. Other sponsors of the conference to reestablish NAARPR, in addition to the Freedom Road Socialist Organization itself, included the Arab American Action Network, Black Lives Matter – Chicago, and the US Palestinian Community Network.
By their own words, FRSO-FB and NAARPR have made clear their intention to use the anti-police protests mobilized in response to George Floyd’s killing to advance their revolutionary ambitions. In fact, NAARPR jumped the gun. On May 19, 2020 – six days before the George Floyd killing – NAARPR issued a release calling upon “all its members, comrades, friends and allies to join in a national day of protest on May 30ᵗʰ, 2020 at 3:00 PM EST.”
NAARPR originally intended its May 30th protest to be a fight against Wall Street greed and “the government standing by as COVID-19 ravages African American, Latinx and Indigenous communities—inciting mass Black death with their calls to reopen the economy.” NAARPR also wanted to protest “the police and racist vigilantes” who “continue to brazenly hunt and kill Black folks while they sleep in their beds and on open roads in broad daylight.” But despite the incendiary language NAARPR used to describe why it was organizing the march, it was most likely too abstract to mobilize masses of people to the streets. Then the video of George Floyd’s brutal killing on May 25th went viral. Suddenly NAAPRP and its sponsor FRSO-FB had what they needed to excite the masses. On May 25th, NAAPRP re-issued its call for a day of protest on May 30th.
Rioters burnt down the 3rd Precinct building of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 28th. Displaying a photo of a blazing inferno, the Joint Nationalities Commission of Freedom Road Socialist Organization issued a statement on May 29th, declaring that “The streets are on fire for action and our job is to continue to fan the flames.” On June 7th, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Minnesota District recounted with pride how the police were compelled to abandon the Third Precinct Police Station in Minneapolis, which “was taken over and burned.” Its statement referred to looting of stores as “shopping for free,” adding that “People have had enough and are taking things into their own hands.”
The Freedom Road Socialist Organization issued a statement on June 12th, boasting about “the protests against police terror” the Marxist-Leninist group “has been, and will be, going out to build.” Referring to the United States as “a jailhouse for the oppressed,” the statement declared, “We need revolution. A revolution where the wealthy are divested of their riches and rule of the working class is established – socialism.” FRSO-FB left no doubt what kind of “revolution“it had in mind. “We are reds and proud of it. Be it China, Russia, Cuba, or any other country where the rule of capital was brought to an end, revolutionaries employing Marxism-Leninism were at the forefront. We are serious about winning.”
FRSO-FB and NAARPR are very serious about winning! Planning for the “revolution” has been going on for years. Frank Chapman, who was a leader of the original National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression movement in the 1970’s, is now a leading member of both the current version of NAARPR and of Freedom Road Socialist Organization-FightBack. Linking the socialist group to radical black activism, Chapman stated at the 8th Congress of Freedom Road Socialist Organization-Fight Back in 2018, “We are making real progress in building a fighting communist organization, and I am looking forward to more advances in the struggle against police crimes and building the Black liberation movement.”
The “Resolution to Refound the National Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression (NAARPR)” was passed at the November 2019 conference in Chicago that FRSO-FB’s publication Fight Back News Service had promoted. Chapman and his comrade-in-arms Angela Davis were speakers at the conference. The resolution “refounding” NAARPR used the language typical of the far left. For example, it declared that “we are facing a national epidemic of state sponsored violence perpetrated by police and vigilantes targeting the oppressed Black, Latinx, immigrant, indigenous, LGBTQ, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and gender fluid communities.” The resolution complained of” blatant police occupation in…major urban areas.” It decried the “institutionalization of a U.S. police state.” It expressed NAARPR’s “unconditional solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.” It recited a laundry list of other victims of “oppression,” declaring that “we continue to stand in unconditional solidarity with the national liberation movements of Palestine, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, as well as the anti-imperialist struggles of South Africa, Venezuela, and all progressive, democratic forces against imperialism.”
At the November 2019 conference Chapman declared, “Abolishing the police and prisons, is part of a larger vision of changing and abolishing governments that oppress us.” Chapman lauded the younger generation leading the Black Lives Matter movement today and made it clear that he remained “in the trenches” to guide them. One of Chapman’s young disciples and a speaker at the conference was Ariel Atkins, a lead organizer for Black Lives Matter Chicago. “Frank believes in the youth. And he fully believes in allowing them the power and access they need in order to grow,” Atkins said. “When Trayvon Martin was killed, I think that was when the next wave of organizers really took place because there were people organizing but you know, they didn’t have the means and the energy to mobilize people to really base build.”
George Floyd’s horrendous killing provided the energy that the “people organizing” the mass protests were waiting for. Vladimir Lenin would be very proud. As he wrote in What Is To Be Done? Burning Questions of our Movement, “This struggle must be organized, according to ‘all the rules of the art’, by people who are professionally engaged in revolutionary activity. The fact that the masses are spontaneously being drawn into the movement does not make the organisation of this struggle less necessary.” (Emphasis in the original)
The revolutionaries succeed when cowardly politicians retreat in the face of lawlessness and well-meaning people genuflect to the new norms of behavior that today’s “cultural revolution” demands.