Australians, Floridians against Trump’s war on Syria

This video says about itself:

Thousands protest Trump as “sister marches” begin in Australia

21 January 2017

Thousands of protesters in Australia take part in one of the hundreds of womens’ marches planned around the world in a show of disapproval of U.S. President Donald Trump as he began his first day in office.

From the World Socialist Web Site:

Australian workers and youth speak out against US strike on Syria

By our reporters

10 April 2017

Workers, students and young people across Australia have reacted to the US bombing of a Syrian air base last Thursday with a combination of shock and intense opposition. Speaking to the WSWS, many noted the bloody record of US and Australian interventions in the Middle East over the past 15 years. Some expressed concerns that the direct targeting of a base at which Russian troops were present marked a dangerous turn towards a broader military conflagration.

The sentiments of ordinary people stand in sharp contrast to the response of the Australian political and media establishment. Liberal-National Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Labor Party leader Bill Shorten hailed the illegal act of aggression by the US.

The media, including its nominally “liberal” wing, has universally lined-up behind the fraudulent pretext for the US bombing—that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons last week—and has suppressed all information indicating that it was the US-backed Islamist opposition that had the most to gain from the alleged nerve gas attack.

WSWS reporters spoke to workers, students and young people over the weekend.

Amanda, a middle-aged healthcare worker from Newcastle, a regional centre in New South Wales, said: “The CIA is behind the bombings in Syria and probably the gas attack as well. They have their fingers in all pies. That is how they operate around the world. If they don’t like a government, they will change it.”

Amanda questioned the official pretext for the bombing. “I really doubt it was Assad [the Syrian president] who conducted the gas attack,” she said. “It is illogical. Why would Assad do that now, when he is regaining control over Syria? It doesn’t make sense.

“America has attacked every government in the Middle East that had gained some degree of independence. Iraq, Syria and Libya were some of the most civilized countries in the Middle East and all had secular governments. When they [the US] invaded Iraq in 2003, no one provided any proof about weapons of mass destruction.”

Asked about the dangers of a broader conflict, Amanda commented: “There is real likelihood for a major war here. Russia has never attacked the US and they have no overseas bases except in Syria. But the US has over 200 bases in every corner of the world. I imagine if Hillary Clinton had been elected US president she would have gone to war just a couple of days after the election.”

In the Latrobe Valley, in south-east Victoria, WSWS reporters spoke with residents about the relationship between the drive to war abroad and the assault on the social conditions of the working class. The region faces a deep social crisis, after decades of job cuts in the power sector, which will be exacerbated by the closure of the Hazelwood power plant last month and the destruction of 750 jobs.


Misty, a 22-year-old casual worker, said: “I think that war has gotten to the point where it’s not about protecting people. It’s about a selfish government.

“I wanted to go and fight in a war when I was young. I did 28 days of training. It’s only in the last two years I decided not to. I realised people are not fighting for freedom, but for money. I don’t think it’s right for some of us to suffer just for someone else to put money in their pocket.

“In Iraq, in 2003, there were no weapons of mass destruction. They said there were. It was a lie. I think this one in Syria is the same. There’s another reason they want to go to war in the Middle East. There’s a lot of money to gain from controlling the oil.”

Misty continued: “The government here spends all the money on war and things that aren’t necessary. They could be funding homes for people who are homeless. There isn’t enough done for the people who need it. I don’t see people as Muslim or Iraqi. We’re just people. We all have to work, we all have to survive.”


Jordan, a 24-year-old demolition worker, said: “I think this whole thing in Syria is caused by the US. It’s just like Iraq. In 2003, it was all over oil. Saddam Hussein was a bad man but it wasn’t a reason to take over a country.”

Asked about the billions spent by the Australian government on war, Jordan said: “I believe money is spent in the wrong way. There’s nothing much out here. I came here to live with my girlfriend’s family. There are a lot of drug problems and there are no jobs. I find whatever work I can. I get work three out of seven days. It’s not enough to get by.”


Yvonne, a retiree, pointed to the illegality of the bombing. “The question in my mind now is, did Trump order the bombing?” she asked. “Trump has the formal title of president but he is not the government. I don’t know whether according to the US constitution he can make unilateral decisions and have them executed.”

Yvonne denounced the media, for uncritically peddling the claims of the major imperialist powers. “I know what the media is saying is tailored. It’s tailored by what is not said,” she commented.

Yvonne pointed to the persecution of refugees, many of whom are fleeing the Syrian conflict, by successive Labor and Liberal-National governments. “I just can’t bear to watch the television,” she said.

“I’m the daughter of refugees and I hate the appalling policies that our government carries out against asylum-seekers in the name of ‘border protection.’ They don’t listen to us. They’re Janus-faced. There’s the public face on the television with all the trimmings. And then there’s the reality which we never get to see.”


Anuj, a 30-year-old IT worker originally from India but now living in Sydney, said: “I’m against the bombing, any bombing. It’s not something that should ever happen. I think Trump is someone who doesn’t really understand why he does a lot of things. He’s doing it to show he has power.

“The media is supporting what he’s done because he is president of the most powerful country in the world. The US has attacked the Middle East a lot, like they did in Vietnam. They have a history of meddling in other country’s affairs.”

Stuart, a transport worker in Sydney, said that US bombing was “disgraceful.” “There are so many machinations in this that you wouldn’t know what’s going on,” he said. “Western governments have created a lot of this mess. The whole region was split up by Britain at the end of World War I which started a lot of the mess.”

Stuart pointed to the anti-democratic character of US-led wars: “There is never any attempt to ask the people. It’s just the leaders that make the decisions and the ordinary people have to do all the dirty work for them. They are the ones sent to war and dying. The generals sit back in their ivory towers and once it’s all over, they move on to the next disaster and leave all the carnage behind them.”

Stuart said that there was a deepening social crisis in the US and Australia. “The US worker has been in decline for a long time,” he commented. “The steel industry has been decimated, they all lost their jobs and look at it now. It’s even creeping up to the high-paid and skilled workers, like the pilots in America. It’s hitting Australia as well and other Western countries. What do you do? You vote for Trump as a protest vote and you end up with a bigger disaster.”

This video from the USA says about itself:

9 April 2017

The Jacksonville Progressive Coalition protest Syrian strikes by Trump. JSO [Jacksonville Sheriff’s Offic] made errors and allowed provacateurs to create violence. JSO then arrested and brutalized anti-war protesters. The next day a protest was held at the county courthouse to bring attention to the arrest and brutalization and to show support for hospitalized and jailed protesters.

By Matthew Taylor in the USA:

Florida anti-war protesters attacked, arrested in police provocation

10 April 2017

Five protestors taking part in a demonstration against the Trump administration’s illegal bombing of Syria were arrested in Jacksonville, Florida on Friday afternoon and charged with multiple felonies, including inciting a riot. Video of the arrests and eyewitness testimony clearly show that the incident was provoked by the police in concert with a well-known right-wing provocateur.

The police assault was initiated when Gary Snow, a right-wing activist well-known for his frequent provocations, attempted to disrupt the protest by mounting the area used as a stage for the speakers with his own megaphone to shout pro-Trump slogans. Snow was allowed to do this by the police, who had at least a half a dozen officers surrounding the immediate area.

When one speaker, Connell Crooms, confronted Snow offstage with a sheriff’s deputy standing between them, he was shoved by Snow. Jacksonville police then began their assault on Crooms.

The video shows at least four officers pile on Crooms, who is deaf, violently dragging him to the ground. As Crooms was pinned to the ground by three officers, one of them repeatedly punches the incapacitated man in the ribs as the others hold him down. Snow can be seen standing unmolested over the dogpile of police officers as they viciously beat Crooms.

Crooms, who frequently participates in anti-war and anti-police violence protests in Jacksonville, was hospitalized for his injuries. Witnesses told the Folio Weekly that police could be seen dragging the limp body of Crooms into a nearby ambulance. Police absurdly charged him with two felonies: inciting a riot and resisting an officer with violence.

As the outraged crowd gathered closer and shouted at police to stop their assault, the sheriff’s deputies turned on the crowd and responded with brutal force. Toma Beckham, another local activist, was slammed to the ground and arrested. When another nearby activist, Christina Kittle, came to their aid she too was assaulted. The video shows a large sheriff’s deputy slamming the woman face down onto the ground and violently twisting her arm behind her back into a joint lock before arresting her.

Kittle was charged with two felonies: battery on a law enforcement officer and riot/incite or encourage. Beckham was charged with a felony count of resisting an officer with violence and a misdemeanor count of affray (fighting).

William Wilder, a 74-year-old man, was beaten by another large deputy as he attempted to prevent him from assaulting another protestor. In a Facebook post from the Jacksonville sheriff’s office, the police admit punching the elderly man in the face “several times to obtain compliance,” after Wilder allegedly knocked the radio off of the deputies shoulder. Wilder was charged with two felony counts: aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and depriving an officer with means of communication.

David Schneider, a local activist, was charged with a felony count of inciting a riot. Schneider was on the outskirts of the protest when police launched their assault on demonstrators.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) Facebook post that attempts to whitewash the arrests justifies Schneider’s arrest thus: “During the protest suspect David Schneider was identified to be the primary organizer of the protest. He was observed organizing and rehearsing chants with the crowd that they later repeated on his command during the time he addressed the crowd with an electronic megaphone. Mr. Schneider was also the main person observed engaging and coordinating with most of the [protester]s. The decision was made to detain the organizer of the protest. Suspect Schneider observed police looking at him and began to cross the street and leave. Police yelled multiple times to stop and he did not comply. An officer ran after him and grabbed his arm and told him he was being detained. Suspect Schneider was arrested for Inciting a Riot (felony).”

The JSO indicts themselves with their own words. They arrested Schneider for organizing the protest, exercising his constitutionally protected rights of free speech. Nothing in the preceding protest, which consisted of peaceful chanting and speeches, could be rationally seen as inciting a riot.

It is clear, however, that the JSO allowed a friendly provocateur to start a fight which they then used as a justification to assault the activists.

The fact that Schneider was targeted despite the fact that he was not in the immediate vicinity of the police assault suggests the arrests were planned in advance and the [protester]s were illegally targeted for their politics. Kittle, Beckham, Crooms, Wilder, and Schneider are all well-known activists who frequently participate in local anti-war and police violence protests.

A recent article in the Florida Times-Union exposed the JSO’S routine surveillance of demonstrations. Going back to at least 2015 the Times-Union established that sheriff’s office had a contract with the social media monitoring service Geofeedia. They used the service to notify them of any planned protests, particularly against police violence. The article also reveals that the JSO would film demonstrations, zooming in on the faces of speakers so as to better identify them. The article states that the JSO has access to facial recognition software, suggesting that they used the software to identify and target protest organizers.

On Saturday family members and friends who attempted to visit those arrested were turned away from the Duval County jail. Some had traveled from out of state to visit their imprisoned family members. Rather conveniently, the jail had been placed in lockdown and visitation canceled.

The provocateur, Snow, is also a frequent presence at local protests. He is known for provoking and intimidating protestors in his attempts to disrupt peaceful demonstrations and promote his right-wing ideology. At a rally at the Jacksonville courthouse Sunday in support of the imprisoned [activist]s, speakers called for his arrest, and several noted that at previous demonstrations the police had separated the counter-demonstrators from the main protest. The fact that they failed to do this at Friday’s protest indicates probable collusion between the police and Snow.

Further evidence of this can be seen in video from the incident. As the police scatter the terrified crowd, Snow can be seen sitting on the hood of a nearby police cruiser, calmly talking with officers.

The arrests in Jacksonville must be taken as a stern warning to the working class. Police collaboration with fascistic elements like Snow in assaults on workers is a frequent tactic of authoritarian dictatorships. As opposition to war and inequality grows, the state will increasingly rely on such methods.

White House threatens more strikes on Syria: here.

Following the declaration of support by the German government for the US attack on Syria on Friday, Germany’s media launched a campaign at the weekend for a massive expansion of aggression against the country: here.

TRUMP ON TRACK TO OUTSPEND OBAMA’S ENTIRE TRAVEL BUDGET IN ONE YEAR “President Donald Trump has spent 21 days of his 80-day presidency at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, at an estimated cost of $21.6 million in travel and security expenses, CNN reported. In contrast, Obama spent a total of just under $97 million during his entire presidency.” [HuffPost]

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