Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Workers Party

Chattanooga! 9 Pigs Fall to People’s Armed Defense

First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 5, No. 28, August 4-10,1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

The entire Chattanooga police department was blasted out of the predominately black section of Alton Park last week by the might of the masses. The cops were sent in to ’contain’ the rioters who took to the streets in response to the acquittal of three Klansmen who shot four elderly black women last April. The cops didn’t expect to be greeted with sniper fire. They didn’t expect that they’d suffer more casualties than the rioters themselves.

But, by Thursday night, nine police were shot. As the cops watched their partners fall to the ground, bleeding profusely, they had second thoughts about their presence in the community. They ran for cover behind overturned cars and inside of firebombed factories and stores. One investigator who received pellet wounds on his arms, legs and chest was forced to admit. “As we cleared the area, we were literally ambushed . . . I don’t even know how many shots were fired. . . ” On Friday. Mayor Rose ordered a police retreat.

Armed Self-Defense Is People’s Justice

By the week’s end, every factory in the highly industrialized area was completely firebombed and stores were opened up for systematic wipe-outs. As people poured into the streets, they didn’t give a damn about the imposed dusk to dawn curfews, 12 hour shifts for cops or the police reinforcements. They were beginning to feel their own strength with each blow dealt against the police. Like no other time in American history, the pigs were paying for their crimes against the community, their hated role as enforcers of the ruling class’ laws.

No one gave a damn about going to jail or getting killed, because Afro-Americans have been going to jail and getting killed everyday under capitalism. They weren’t thinking about risking their jobs, because unemployment in Chattanooga is the highest in the entire state of Tennessee and hardly anyone has a job worth risking. They were thinking about their children starving to death because of no food. They were thinking about how they have to live in constant fear of being gunned down by a police or a Klan bullet. It was this single-mindedness that led the whole city to be swept into motion to deliver People’s Justice.

Chattanooga Learns From First Miami Riot

Tactically, Chattanooga represents an even higher form of class struggle than the first Miami riot. The masses didn’t wait for the police to make the moves. As soon as the pigs stepped into the community, they were attacked. Because they were sent in to beat back the masses’ rage at the Klan and the government’s defense of the Klan, the police would have to take the weight of years and years of suppressed wrath. They’d have to think twice before they dared billy club another brother or drag a sister off to jail. The people of Chattanooga dealt death blows to the police and sent war drum messages of their rage straight to the heart of the ruling class. As fascist attacks increase, military defense becomes a necessary way of life.

The pigs in Chattanooga had to retreat. Their continued occupation of the community only brings greater armed resistance from the people and more police casualties. And the longer the fighting dragged on, the more the government’s powerlessness would have been exposed. But if the government just pulled out it would really look feeble. That’s where Jesse Jackson came in. It was he who proposed in a public meeting with Mayor Rose and Police Commissioner Smart that some black ministers and volunteers from the community would organize a “peace patrol” if the cops would leave. In other words these stooges would do the pigs’ job of making sure the people keep in line and spy on mass leaders. This sellout gave the government the out it needed and the police quickly agreed.

Jackson was also one of the black mis-leaders sent to try to cool out the Miami rebellion. There the people kicked him and his kind out of the community. But in Chattanooga Jackson was able to do his dirty work. Like the people of Miami, Chattanoogans see through political mummies like Jackson, but the difference is that in Miami there was leadership and organization that could crystallize people’s sentiment to reject these misleaders and prevent them from throwing a wrench in the people’s fight. In the absence of this leadership, misleaders like Jackson and their capitalist masters can temporarily gain political initiative by default.

Miami showed that advanced fighters are more and more appreciating the kind of leadership and organization that only the Communist Workers Party can provide. As one brother in Miami said, “If the CWP had been in Miami, we could have taken things a lot farther.”

Chattanooga Not Alone in Hatred of Cops

The people of Chattanooga are not alone in their hatred of the police. Earlier this month in Flint, Michigan, people rose up spontaneously when 15-year old William Taylor was killed by a pig. Two cops were seriously wounded as a result.

The hatred of the police is not limited to Afro-Americans either. When cops moved in to protect scabs in Washington, Indiana, last November, the white workers who were on strike for months, went straight to the mayor’s house and bombed it to pieces. This is the intensity of the American people’s hatred of the police and what they symbolize. As the masses throughout the nation rise up more and more in strikes and riots, engaging the police in battle, the ruling class will be weakened because their forces cannot be centralized. Their hands will be tied. And when the masses are more consciously organized, the ruling class will suffer defeat after defeat. The main thing for us to be reminded of is that killing a few cops is not enough. It is needed, but more is needed. In order to end this system that employs them we must grasp the need for military defense and political offense. We must spread the lessons of Indiana, Michigan, Miami and Chattanooga to make it serve to awaken the whole nation. As General Secretary Jerry Tung said, “In the 1980’s we can win: we will win!”