Photo: Protesters rally at a major intersection in Charlotte, North Carolina against US aggression toward Iran
By Miriam Cordova
On Thursday, dozens of people in Charlotte held an anti-war demonstration, with one anti-imperialist protester being brutally arrested and charged with a noise ordinance violation for leading chants on a megaphone. As the protest increased in militant energy, police attempts to stop or confine the event were met with rising defiance from the attendees.
The protest was held in response to the recent US imperialist aggression targeting Iran, namely the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a leader of the elite Quds Force. Since the assassination, many anti-war protests have been held throughout the US focused mainly on opposing war generally, however anti-imperialists have seized the opportunity to pinpoint US imperialism as the number one enemy of the world’s people and the ultimate cause of this aggression.
The rally began at 5 PM at the corner of Trade and Tryon in uptown Charlotte with speeches urging opposition to Trump and the possibility of war with Iran. One Incendiary supporter gave a short speech on the necessity of fighting US imperialism itself, challenging the notion that imperialist war would be averted simply by voting out Trump.
After the speeches concluded at the gathering site, protest organizers led the majority of attendees on a march. The protest, which was originally planned as an “anti-war” rally, had been transformed into a more combative anti-imperialist march.
Due to ongoing construction, the march was diverted onto a smaller road, and as protesters chanted against US imperialism, bike police singled out one protester leading the chants with the megaphone and tackled her to the ground. While handcuffed, she encouraged demonstrators to continue despite her detention.
The demonstration soon returned to the gathering point, where many of the protesters, at this point angered and shocked by the repressive actions of the police, began chanting, “Bullshit! Bullshit!”
During the march tensions, police pulled aside the event organizers, who agreed to talk to them despite openly aired disagreements from others in the crowd. Organizers must resist appeals from the police, who will often lie or manipulate organizers and protesters to encourage their collaboration. Police negotiations are only intended to defang demonstrations and open the door for police repression when actions cross the line acceptable to the ruling class, not to protect those taking part in them.
The demonstrators who were originally hesitant to engage a disruptor who had been harassing the march, Sam Bathea (commonly known as “Jesus Saves”), began to form a defensive bloc that signaled a more aggressive stance towards him. This militant coordination drew police scrutiny, who soon announced that protesters would be arrested en masse unless the demonstration dispersed.
The crowd dispersed as the militant energy began to dissipate under the police manipulations, and some attendees turned towards planning legal and financial support for the arrested demonstrator.
While in processing, the arrested woman was told by the magistrate that there was no probable cause for her arrest and that she was free to go. However, she was not allowed to leave without a police escort, and in the time before she left, the police convinced the magistrate to press the spurious charge of using a “bullhorn for amplifying sound, without an approved permit as authorized by Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.”
For the police the megaphone is just a convenient scapegoat for their true reason for the arrest: their role as defense for the imperialist class by repressing any resistance to its plunder and war around the world. The arrest failed to end the demonstration and police aggression only fueled the energy of the masses.
We encourage those opposed to US imperialism to donate to the arrested woman’s defense, and share the fundraiser widely: https://gogetfunding.com/comrade-arrested-at-anti-imperialist-rally/