Socialist Worker

US state threatens to shoot anti-racists in Washington

Issue No. 2723

Washington National Guard Annual Training

Washington National Guard Annual Training (Pic: Flickr/The National Guard)


The US state prepared to use live fire against anti‑­racist protesters in Washington, a ­congressional inquiry has heard.

The inquiry also heard chilling details of how the state prepared to use ­terrifying new “heat ray” weaponry against protests.

Federal officials started to stockpile ammunition hours before US security forces ­forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square in June.

Protesters were ­demonstrating over the police killing of George Floyd.

Officials also sought out devices that can emit ­deafening sounds and make anyone within range feel as if their skin is on fire.

Washington National Guard Major Adam D DeMarco gave evidence to the congressional inquiry last week. He said defence officials had been searching for crowd control technology that had previously been seen as too unpredictable to use even in war zones.

Donald Trump’s shooter comments show how racism comes from the top
Donald Trump’s shooter comments show how racism comes from the top
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They had also authorised the transfer of about 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the local armoury.

On 1 June the defence department’s top military police officer in the Washington region sent an email to officers in the National Guard. It asked whether the unit had a long range acoustic device or a microwave-like weapon called the Active Denial System.

This was designed by the military to make people feel like their skin is burning when in range of its invisible rays.

The technology, also called a “heat ray”, was developed to disperse large crowds in the early 2000s.

It was then was shelved amid concerns about its effectiveness, safety and the ethics of using it on humans.

Pentagon officials were reluctant to use the device in Iraq.

In late 2018 the New York Times newspaper reported that officials had considered using the device against migrants at the US-Mexico border.


The Tories could be preparing to use the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to freeze benefits and public sector pay.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also reportedly wants to tear up the “triple lock” for pensions.

This means the state pension has to rise each year in line with price growth, wage growth or 2.5 percent—whichever is higher. Sunak now says this is unaffordable.


Ten cops have lost a legal battle to stop Police Scotland taking disciplinary action against them over their dodgy WhatsApp messages.

The officers are accused of sharing racist, antisemitic and sexist messages and of crime scenes.

They said their rights to privacy had been breached after senior officers uncovered two private WhatsApp groups.

One group was called Quality Polis and the other PC Piggies.


Scottish miners set to be pardoned for strike

Hundreds of miners in Scotland who were convicted of crimes during the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike are set to be pardoned.

An independent review set up by the Scottish government has proposed the move. It would cover some miners who have since died.

The review team reported that the miners affected thought they had been punished in a “grossly excessive manner”. The Scott Report concluded, “It is hard to disagree.”

The report suggests that 1,400 miners in Scotland were arrested during the strike, and more than 500 convicted of a crime. It cites figures estimating that hundreds of the convictions were for breach of the peace.

It said many miners saw their pensions cut and found it hard to get other work. “This compounded a sense of injustice,” it said.

Some men felt “crushed” by their treatment, with some suffering nervous breakdowns or killing themselves.


Car crash cop was rushing home for tea

A cop put on his blue lights “without reason” after his wife texted him to say his “tea was on the table”.

John Byrne put on his emergency lights in an unmarked police car and drove at up to 80 miles an hour through Liverpool in November last year.

He went through a red light, before crashing into a BMW.

His wife had sent him a picture of his tea. Byrne, a former guardsman for the queen, admitted one count of dangerous driving in a court case last week. The court heard that he was “tired and hungry” on the day in question.

He was disqualified from driving for 12 months and given a 12-month community order.

Byrne could also be sacked by Merseyside Police. It isn’t known what the tea he was racing home for was.


New job for Grayling…

Former Tory transport secretary Chris Grayling has been handed a £100,000 job advising the owner of some of Britain’s top ports. The “job” consists of seven hours’ work a week for a year.

Grayling will advise Hutchison Ports, which operates Harwich and Felixstowe among other ferry terminals.

He’s clearly well qualified for his new role.

As transport secretary he gave a £13.8 million ferry contract to Seaborne Freight—which had no ferries.

This and other contracts were later cancelled, at an estimated cost of £56.6 million.

A parliamentary watchdog has approved Grayling’s latest appointment, despite a “perceived risk” that it might give the firm an unfair advantage.

And while Grayling rakes in the cash, Hutchison Ports workers are losing out.

Staff at the Felixstowe port have lost their annual Christmas bonus and suffered damaging shift changes, according to the Unite union. It said Grayling’s “cushy number at the port is an insult”.

“Hutchison Ports clearly has money to burn,” it added.


…and for Tom Watson

Former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson is now an adviser to Flutter, which owns gambling brands including Paddy Power, Betfair, Sky Bet and Poker Stars.

Watson was a vocal campaigner against gambling when he was an MP. He had called for an end to gambling advertising on football shirts, and a ban on TV adverts during live sports events.

Watson described gambling as a “hidden epidemic”.

Flutter said he will be “immersing himself” in its business, bringing a “fresh and robust voice”.


The things they say...

‘Misery etched on his face’

A Tory MP describes the prime minister Boris Johnson

‘He’s always worried about money’

Donald Trump explains why they think Johnson is miserable

‘Loads of kids get sniffles in the autumn’

A government spokesperson explains how plans for a new advertising campaign to keep children in school is about to be launched

‘It’s a powerful lament, a true work of art’

Mail online columnist Sarah Vine praises Gil Scott Heron’s song ‘Whitey on the moon’

‘Black Lives Matter, a sinister organisation hiding behind a noble sentiment –have infiltrated our own, far more tolerant society’

Vine goes on to explain that in contrast comedian Sophie Duker joking ‘Kill Whitey’ should be the end of the BBC

‘Extravagant luxury fused with utility’

Description of a £31,000 Dolce and Gabbana painted fridge


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