The right-wing agenda to put a chill on legitimate, nonviolent protests has been underway for several years. So far, it has been insufficient to curtail the growing number of protests against the repressive conditions that racial capitalism has created yet expect us to suffer in silence. History is repeating itself as the U.S. government intensifies its War on Terrorism that has slowly and not surprisingly united with the efforts of white supremacists to target progressive social movements fighting for democracy.

Federal laws do not clearly define domestic terrorism as they have with the definition for international terrorism. The right has taken advantage of the vagueness with its own interpretations. Our civil society has seen the steady blurring of lines between movement activities and real-time domestic terrorists since 9/11. We saw the first wave of laws, like the Patriot Act, be put in place under the guise of national security.

Rarely have we seen these laws be applied to those who really are a threat to national security. It is reminiscent of the FBI’s view that the Black Panther Party was Public Enemy #1 which directed large amounts of resources to kill and exile its leaders and dismantle the Party through COINTELPRO. The Ku Klux Klan has never been dubbed with such a title despite the fact that its accepted characterization is a white supremacist, terrorist, hate group. The government and the mainstream media have been reluctant to call the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol an act of domestic terrorism.

Since 2015, nearly 300 anti-protest bills have been introduced in almost every state. That number increased with the protests of George Floyd’s murder by police in 2020. In Missouri, we have beat back the most punitive of these laws, but the legislative session is not over. Two years ago, Florida passed HB1 which has already had a chilling impact on movement protests while shielding vigilantes and counter-protestors against liability when they act recklessly. Republican governors will abuse their authority to further the GOP agenda. Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency against “unlawful assemblage.” These declarations can trigger the deployment of the National Guard against citizens.

Perhaps the most disturbing act of collaboration between reactionary forces and the government came together with the recent filing of domestic terrorism charges against 42 Stop Cop City Protestors in Atlanta. Protestors are righteously fighting against the building of a massive 85-acre police training facility at the cost of $90 million. Sadly, environmental activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terá was killed during the protests. No charges have been made in that crime.

The Cop City fight has been temporarily derailed as movement supporters rally to mount a serious legal defense to free the protestors and safeguard our constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom to assemble. It could mean long jail waits for trials and costly legal fees.

We can expect these coordinated attacks on our right to organize, to speak out and to assemble in the name of justice and democracy to escalate. We must not allow the government to pick off leaders or organizations because they are not in our city or state. Or because the government has deemed them to be outside troublemakers. To lose any ground in this fight now will be a devastating step backward as we face more authoritarian types of laws, tactics and governance in the future.

We who believe in freedom and democracy must galvanize all sectors of our movements from attorneys to funders. This is our reality and only we can change it by intensifying a united, coordinated campaign against the tyrannical acts designed to criminalize and de-legitimize the resistance by progressive organizations fighting for transformative change in the U.S.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers, founder and Chair Emeritus of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis. She is an organizer, trainer and speaker. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It – A Chronicle of Struggle. Other writings by Ms. Rogers can be found on her blog jamalarogers.com. Contact Ms. Rogers and BC.

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