Can we stop police terror by going on strike? #StrAPT says yes.
The Black Lives Matter movement has met police violence with rallies and street protest, but what other options do we have to shake the foundations of this racist system? Strike Against Police Terror (StrAPT), a new website launched this month, aims to popularize a key weapon that can be used by anyone who has to work to survive: the strike.
One often thinks of strikes, slowdowns and pickets as workplace actions that aim to wring concessions from bosses, and little else. But in many parts of the world, workers withdraw their labor to signal their positions on a range of issues beyond the workplace, and force political crises that have the potential to create change. Trade unionists in Argentina, for example, launched a general strike in 2010 after police and and local gun-thugs murdered a young worker named Mariano Ferreyra. StrAPT insists something similar could happen here.
“By shutting down the economy through strikes, we can build groundwork for a combative worker and oppressed people’s movement for collective liberation.”
Labor insurgency in the U.S. has been subdued ever since the wildcat strike wave of the 1970s receded. But there are signs that the kind of anti-police brutality strikes StrAPT imagines could be on the horizon. Already in 2014, workers at a UPS warehouse in Minneapolis waged a “Hands Up Don’t Ship” action, refusing to transport tear gas munitions to police in Ferguson as authorities struggled to repress the protests there. StrAPT’s editors argue that halting the production and circulation of goods in this way can grind the racist policing regime to a halt, linking our power in the workplace to the struggle against police violence.
“By shutting down the economy through strikes,” the StrAPT editors write, “we can build groundwork for a combative worker and oppressed people’s movement for collective liberation from capitalism, imperialism, and colonization. When the state’s agents of repression kill—whether they’re border patrol, ICE, police, or sheriffs—we can raise the call to take the streets, block roads, halt production, and shut it down.“