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The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, making abortion illegal in many states and emperiling access in the rest. Reactions were swift. People had been anticipating an announcement since a draft of the decision was leaked to Politico in early May. Thousands gathered in cities across the country, occasionally harassed and attacked by right-wing extremists who have been mobilized all summer to heckle Pride events. While right wing media stoked fears that pro-abortion mobs woud attack churches and anti-abortion groups, virtually all the violence was done by police against unarmed demonstrators, mostly women. LCRW staff attended protests around the country.
BATON STRIKES FOR THE MASSES IN LOS ANGELES
Two of the main protests for L.A. were unfortunately enmeshed with the weird splinter communist parties the glom on to every mass social movement they can—RevCom and PSL/ANSWER Coalition. RevCom set up shop around noon by the Federal Courthouse.
“I was actually sitting in the doctor’s office for an appointment to get my tubes tied and I started crying,” Starseed Love, one of the attendees, told LCRW. “Even if we’re safe for the most part here in California thousands of women are going to be affected, going to die and it breaks my fucking heart.”
Other groups criticized RevCom’s protests, which are organized under their latest front group, “Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.” A group of organizations headed by NYC For Abortion Rights put out a statement saying RevCom is using this political moment to grift—a move they’ve apparently tried before with this very issue. Activists have been complaining off the record about the same issues with RevCom since before LCRW’s inception.
The statement also said RevCom have reactionary views towards LGBTQ+ people, particularly trans people, as well as sex workers. Indeed, at the protest it was hard to ignore the forceful insistance that abortions are a women’s issue—as if people with other genders can’t get pregnant—or get somene pregnant.
A RevCom member shouted at a man standing with a woman in a Handmaid’s Tale outfit, saying he had a “small dick” and insisting “size matters” when the man admitted that “it is small.” One speaker screamed about regulating “mens’ dicks” while signs read things like “Women’s Lives Matter” and “100% of unwanted pregnancies are caused by men.”
Ah well, at least Bob Avakian never hosted a show on Sputnik with one of Andrew Breitbart’s disciples.
But the reactionary undertones settled to the bottom of the day’s thoughts by evening. When LCRW came back around 5pm, the protest had grown from 150-200 during midday to about 500. We started on what I feared was a dreaded “march to nowhere,” zig-zagging up streets toward Pershing Square. PSL’s march had left Pershing for City Hall by the time we arrived, likely to either avoid factional conflict with RevCom or keep their flock from being poached. Instead of stopping at Pershing, the crowd kept going and I dreaded I’d be in for a long, tedious night and sore feet.
But then things got interesting. The crowd took to the 110 Freeway. It was a fun couple of miles free of any police interference until everyone started exiting voluntarily on Temple Street. From there, LAPD formed a riot line to hassle stragglers. To my surprise, a smaller group broke off after marching a few blocks and pincered an onramp and offramp for the 101, blocking traffic again. They smartly decided to retreat soon after taking the freeway once again and LAPD rushed in to block absolutely no one but the oncoming traffic.
What followed was a night of fast-paced marching I struggled to keep up with, kettling, and LAPD beating people for no good reason. One woman was shoved to the ground by officers in a riot line and another who came to her aid was beat with batons. Another protester’s face was slammed into the pavement repeatedly by police. There were multiple such incidents like this. But the pattern was essentially the crowd marching and getting whittled down and split by police shutting down streets. Pranksters would fire bottlerockets at the cops. Occasionally some protesters held their signs in front of the officers in the riot lines, inches from their faces.
Among the press brutalized were LCRW contributor Joey Scott, who was jabbed in the gut by an LAPD baton and fell backwards onto a car. A legal observer standing near him was also assaulted. Scott was thankfully wearing a helmet but as of this writing is still recovering from the trauma and physical injuries. Journalists Tina Desiree Berg and Sam Braslow were shoved to the ground by officers as well, while freelance photographer Belle Ives was forcefully detained.
There were few far-right agitators in L.A. One person with a lifted truck flew a ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag and drove around downtown honking and heckling. A trucker convoy-associated right wing livestreamer who goes by First Responders Media stood next to me on Main and South Fifth Street, though he just kind of quietly mumbled to his viewers while I was there. Ryan Sanchez, AKA Culture War Criminal, the neo-Nazi who got banned from Identity Evropa for posting anime porn in their chatroom, was rumored to be planning on showing up at one of the demonstrations, but he spent the night with some strapping lads at a church in Orange County, making sure “Antifa” didn’t burn it down.
But the violence was hardly contained to Friday night. Among other incidents on Saturday, during a freeway shutdown, LAPD beat a group of teenage girls. More incidents like this are being reported daily, and it’s not just the cops.
At a protest Sunday night, an abortion rights activist was stabbed by someone who apparently targeted them.
“The stabber specifically named dropped me along with other comrades including but not limited to femmes and trans allies,” the victim told LCRW and Daily Kos contributor Vishal Singh.
“Whoever these people are, they’re coming for us.”
There’s currently a fundraiser for the victim.
SAN DIEGO: LARGE AND ORGANIZED
Thousands of San Diegans took to the streets in the wake of the Supreme Court’s attack on abortion rights. On the night of the opinion, protesters gathered at the Superior Court’s Hall of Justice to voice their demands. A coalition of organizations planned the route, including the Sunrise Movement, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Socialist Alternative, and the San Diego Communist Party.
Speakers from these groups decried the Democratic Party’s willful failure to codify Roe v. Wade in law. Speakers also criticized the undemocratic nature of the Supreme Court’s ruling, and its history of defending capital and patriarchy.
Flanked by police at its front and rear, the crowd marched through downtown and occupied the breadth of the street. The march ended at the San Diego County Administration Building, where a thousand-strong vigil was being held for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. After organizers declared the end of their portion, protesters from both events spontaneously and autonomously embarked on another march through downtown.
While SDPD maintained a block’s distance from the crowd’s rear, they staged riot police out of their HQ as a contingency.
In Escondido, a city in the northern part of San Diego County, hundreds of protesters gathered the following day. They marched through the streets surrounding city hall, condemning the Supreme Court for a ruling which will inevitably kill people.
Dr. Beth Johnson with the Poor People’s Campaign spoke before the march. She called for greater organization on the left to combat the christo-fascist coalition which undergirds the Supreme Court’s ruling and the broader rightward shift in the US. To Dr. Johnson, the coordinated attempts to overtake school boards, to intimate city halls, and the Supreme Court’s ruling are all deeply connected.
San Diegans plan to return to the streets this weekend in varying capacities.
NONPROFITS POINT OUT PROTESTERS TO COPS IN LAS VEGAS
Abortion is a well-protected right in Nevada. Codified state law permits abortion within 24 weeks, and afterwards if a physician believes it to be “necessary to preserve the life or health” of the pregnant person. The statutes protecting abortion cannot be altered by Nevada Legislature unless it’s repealed in a direct vote. But this didn’t stop a few hundred from gathering outside the Lloyd D George Courthouse to protest the Supreme Court’s decision and stand in solidarity with other states.
The rally was organized by BattleBorn Progress and Nevada NOW, (a chapter of the National Organization for Women). And as people joined the rally, the center-left nature of the two liberal organizations became clear; BattleBorn Progress’ executive director, Annette Magnus, walked around the crowd, scolding protesters when they took things “too far” with actions like climbing benches, flipping-off police, or stepping off the curb.
Mangus also spoke with officers from LVMPD, DHS, and other federal officers from the courthouse multiple times throughout the rally, sometimes asking questions about what the crowd was “allowed to do” while marching or pointing out the protestors who refused to get off of benches. Mangus seemingly continued to corroborate with law enforcement throughout the evening.
At every turn police cars were lined up alongside the march, occasionally interrupting to detain someone from the crowd or blare orders over their speakers. One person was ticketed and released and three others were arrested.
Once the march started towards the Strip, more radical members of the group quickly left. Seeing that the marshalls were not keeping police at bay, some feared being targeted for wearing bloc in a sea of unmasked white faces. Others were harassed by the march’s marshalls for leaving the sidewalk. So after a few arrests, the crowd was left primarily with the white liberal milieu. The march continued chanting and walking away from downtown Las Vegas and went for six uneventful miles before stopping at the Wynn and turning back to the courthouse to dissolve.
HELL FROM ABOVE IN PHOENIX, COURTESY OF ARIZONA DPS
Within hours of the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade, concrete barriers were already being set up around the Phoenix State Capitol parking lots. It was still early in the morning in Arizona, but the fascist police state was already preparing to take action against potential protests.
Into the afternoon, crowds of people braved the 105 degree humid heat and began making their way downtown to the Capitol. By sundown, thousands of reproductive rights activists were flooding the streets.
“Fuck you SCOTUS! Fuck Doug Ducey,” the crowd chanted.
Drones followed as they marched in the streets and circled the nearby park, Wesley Bolin Plaza. Armed guards lined the roof of the state Senate and House building, while police trucks equipped with sound cannons were scattered throughout the area. Occasionally lining the march, small groups of men affiliated with the white Christian Nationalist groyper movement could be heard shouting “whores,” and bragging “you lost.” Both Rep. Paul Gosar and far-right Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake later praised the groyper counterprotestors on social media.
Radical art appeared on the concrete slabs that were placed long before protesters arrived. The memorials of Wesley Bolin Park were marked with clear messages:
“ABORT THE FUCKING COURT.”
Thousands marched back to the vicinity of the Capitol, chanting and listening to speakers address the crowd in Wesley Bolin Park.
Inside the Senate chambers, the Arizona Republicans were rushing to cram through a series of unfavorable bills before ending their legislative session, like a massive school voucher expansion that Arizona voters overwhelmingly voted against and a limitation on filming police officers at close-range.
Back outside the Capitol, as the night went on, the Arizona Department of Safety (DPS) began to launch teargas to clear the protests. Armed guards dangerously shot teargas grenades straight from the old Capitol balcony windows and the roof of the House and Senate building. Their high angle resulted in one gas canister becoming stuck on top of a nearby palm tree, igniting it. More with DPS shot from Wesley Bolin Plaza, firing into the park and shooting teargas grenades directly at protesters already leaving and far away from the Capitol building. Shooting wildly from multiple directions and angles left the entire street flooded in the teargas, which is a known abortifacient.
Reports of unlawful assembly were declared, but over half a dozen witnesses confirmed to LCRW they heard no warnings to disperse before DPS reigned hell on the protests. (I also heard no warnings.) DPS and the Arizona Republicans claimed the Capitol was at risk of being breached—hilarious, given the “Stop the Steal” era left the windows broken multiple times and received no similar response. The official DPS statement addressing their violent response cites “significant criminal damage,” aka a few instances of graffiti, as their excuse for collectively punishing thousands of individuals with a dangerous chemical, including children.
“All day long, dozens of armed state troopers hauled in bags and carts of weapons and equipment, They lined the hallways. I’ve never seen a response like it in my 6 years at AZ leg., including the times heavily armed dudes with horns were yelling at legislators,” said Arizona state representative Kelli Butler.
Pro-abortion activists were not deterred and thousands more showed up around the Phoenix Capitol the following night. This time, fence blockades were set up around the Capitol grounds surrounding the entire building. Anti-SCOTUS chants filled the air for a second night in a row.
Also back for a second night was Arizona DPS. Street medics were harassed and had their bags illegally searched. Then, late into the night, the militarized DPS moved in again. This time DPS detained everyone left in the vicinity, including clearly marked members of the press and Legal Observers with the National Lawyers Guild. In what’s certain to be a pattern as pro-abortion protests continue, a judge found there was no probable cause for the charges and arrest.
On Sunday, for the third night of protests, the militarization around the Phoenix Capitol increased again. Armed right-wing militias patrolled the Capitol grounds alongside DPS and the National Guard. While open carry is legal in Arizona, DPS still detained an armed pro-abortion protester. Drones again flew in the sky and razor wire was now added to the already-additional fence.
PROUD BOYS STAND AROUND IN NASHVILLE
Nashville’s pro-abortion action last Friday began gathering shortly before 5:00 and then moved into a march at 5:45. There were only a handful of right wingers scattered around the edges with one managing to make it to the center of the protest before dancing and flipping the crowd off then quickly getting bored and leaving. One Proud Boy, Shatner Franchi (a.k.a. DJ Shat), who was previously charged with a DUI was seen with his arms crossed near the edge of the protest, sitting with cops and glaring at the speakers.
There were hopeful calls from the speakers for a movement to return Roe to its standing as well as more specific plans of action. Workers Dignity or Dignidad Obrera, an organization that helps workers around Nashville unionize, particularly construction and migrant workers, spoke at the protest. They called for a broad front of working class people to not only return to Roe but to ensure women’s rights by ending capitalism, sexism, and imperialism.
Shortly after the representative from Workers Dignity finished speaking, the Proud Boys seemed to file out and go home, appearing bored with the lack of confrontation. Most protestors then filed out after 8:00 with little commotion.
AND ELSEWHERE, CAR ATTACKS
Elsewhere in the country like Chicago and New York, large crowds turned out. In Iowa on Friday, a truck plowed into protesters and another car tried to do the same on Sunday. In Providence, a policeman running as a Republican for state senate, punched one of his Democratic opponents at a protest while off-duty. In Atlanta, the Proud Boys tried to do a show of force with either a decommissioned armored car or an old food truck–we’re not sure which. And in Eugene, Oregon, a self-identified Three Percenter stalked protesters with a rifle, three vehicles tried to drive into protesters and volunteers, and police made targeted arrests, including one of a well-known local activist.
Protests are ongoing.