On Wednesday August 5th, 2020 Put People First! PA’s Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee called for a “March to End State Violence: Fight for Human Rights”. The purpose of the event was to hold all power holders accountable to ending state violence in all its forms and to refocus our community’s attention on fighting for our basic needs as our human rights. We called for an expansion of Medicaid to all, cancellation of the rents, reopening of closed hospitals, ending the deadly conditions in Lancaster County Prison, stopping police violence and an end to gentrification. The event was co-hosted by the Party for Socialism and Liberation- Lancaster, Unapologetic 717, Lancaster County Homeless Union, and the PA Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
Despite the nonviolent nature of our action, there was a heavy police presence from the very beginning, following us throughout the march from a distance. Near the end of the march outside Senator Scott Martin’s office and across the street from the Lancaster City Police station, officers decided to approach and instigate us, which resulted in an escalation of the tension between the police and us and the impromptu decision of one of the protestors to engage in a spontaneous act of Nonviolent Civil Disobedience (NVCD). Two other protestors followed suit in solidarity. We want to underscore the fact that a nonviolent action that was against state violence was met by the state’s chief instrument of violence against us.
We endorse the demand that has already been put forth to drop all charges of those arrested on August 5th, Jessica Lopez, Dylan Davis and Tiara Wolf. If the police had not come over to agitate these protestors would not have felt the need to engage in the spontaneous NVCD action by sitting in the road which then led to their arrest. We are also demanding the charges be dropped on Sabrina Espinosa, a nonviolent protester that was arrested in early June 2020 during the BLM protests in Lancaster, PA.
The arrests that took place that day are an example of a common tactic used by the state throughout history to squash, divide and conquer, or co-opt a revolutionary social movement. We need to understand the role of police within our system. They are an instrument wielded by the ruling class to protect their capital and they are the enforcers of laws put in place by elected officials for the very same reason.
We must not allow ourselves to become distracted by their tactics and intimidation. Our march was a powerful action, boldly demonstrating the unity of the poor and dispossessed across all lines of division. We must remember what we were marching for and demanding that day from ALL levels of government and elected officials: end the war on the poor, end state violence in ALL its forms, and meet the needs of the people, our human rights! (Full list of Covid-19 demands) https://www.putpeoplefirstpa.org/coronavirus/ (Media Coverage of Action)https://www.penncapital-star.com/civil-rights-social-justice/weve-seen-the-devastating-effects-of-gentrification-lancaster-protest-focuses-on-housing-equity/
Protests alone are not a strategy, they are not the end of our struggle. They are a tactic and part of a larger strategy in the movement to end poverty and all the interlocking injustices. If we want to win against this system of oppression then we must get organized and develop into clear, competent, committed and connected leaders, across all lines of division. If we want to fight against actions of the police, we need to organize against the Powers That Be because that is for whom the police work. In order to win we must take down the whole system of oppression, not just a segment.
If you’re interested in organizing for systemic change in the movement to end poverty and all the interlocking injustices sign up here to get involved and join us for our upcoming nation wide tactic, our Medicaid Marches which will take place the week of September 28.