Even before the polls closed on Election Day, Nov. 3, anti-racist activists, and workers’ and community organizations across the U.S. were preparing to take the streets to push forward a people’s mandate, including an end to police crimes, community control of the police, jobs or income and health care for all, no evictions or utility shutoffs, stop racist attacks on immigrants, and an end to U.S. wars and sanctions, no matter which capitalist politician was elected president.
Donald Trump’s repeated threats to defy the vote if he lost gave a special urgency to the protests. As expected, Trump declared himself the victor on election night even before the votes had been counted.
People came out the following day, Wednesday, Nov. 4, at the call of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) and other left organizations in more than a dozen cities. Marches to demand “Count All the Votes,” organized by liberal groups, also drew large numbers that day.
Another wave of actions was planned for Saturday, Nov. 7. In many places they turned into mass celebrations as news broke that Trump had lost the election, as his opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, passed the threshold to secure the presidency in the Electoral College. It was already clear that Biden had won the popular vote — by 5 million votes and growing as of Nov. 11.
From New York to Los Angeles, in neighborhoods like Harlem, Jamaica, Queens and South Central, cheers erupted as the news spread. People banged pots and pans in celebration and relief. In Chicago and Brooklyn, people poured in the streets and danced. Many chanted, “Trump, you’re fired!” — echoing the racist, misogynist billionaire’s reality TV catchphrase.
It was clear that the mass jubilation was prompted by Trump’s electoral defeat — not enthusiasm for Biden.
Now, as Trump and his backers continue to maneuver to reverse the vote, these actions lay an important groundwork to galvanize people for more protests in the two-and-a-half months before the Jan. 20 inauguration in Washington, D.C.
‘Chop down the whole tree’
In Baltimore on Nov. 4, more than 60 people marched from the Harriet Tubman Solidarity Center to the Inner Harbor for a rally at McKeldin Square. The Peoples Power Assembly called for people to “Occupy the Streets if the Election is Stolen — Protest for a People’s Mandate.” One participant described the march as “small but mighty” — drawing enthusiastic support from community members and drivers as it passed.
“No more bad apples! Chop down the whole tree!” they chanted.
“The fight’s not over, even after the election results are known,” declared PPA’s Sharon Black at the rally. “There are still forces of reaction in this country that are buoyed by the capitalist system, which still has the same problems — poverty, racism, war. All of these things still exist. We have to keep the fight up.
“I expect Trump to be pushed back. It may not be a painless pushing back,” she cautioned. “We have to be out in the streets, very strong and united and together. That’s the force that will push these reactionaries back into the dustbin of history where they belong.”
“Biden is no hero,” Black explained, “but this election turned into a referendum on racism. We have to keep the Black Lives Matter movement going. We have to fight for a stimulus for workers, not for billionaires and bankers.”
Andre Powell of the Socialist Unity Party added: “I was very delighted this morning to read that, for the first time, two openly Black gay men have been elected to Congress. We’ve come a long way. But we still have to get a national anti-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ2S people. It not only has to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, but it absolutely must prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.”
In Minneapolis, where this summer’s Black Lives Matter uprising against police killings began with the murder of George Floyd, a thousand people took the streets on the evening of Nov. 4, organized by 30 groups in response to the NAARPR call.
As the peaceful marchers prepared to exit the I-94 highway, they were surrounded by police, who arrested 646 of them, including children who were separated from their parents. The outrageous mass arrest showed a harsh light on the empty promises of Minneapolis elected officials who had promised to disband the police after George Floyd’s death.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time in five years — since the murder of Jamar Clark — that the cops have harassed families and community members on such a mass scale. But despite the intimidation by police, protesters stayed calm and organized. … Meanwhile, the MN political establishment allowed police to detain protesters trapped on the highway for more than five hours,” says a statement from the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, one of the organizing groups.
“In addition to stopping Trump from stealing the elections and the NAARPR demands, we now demand that all charges against protesters be dropped, that the cars impounded be released without fees, that the still ‘disappeared’ arrestees be released. We continue to fight for and demand community control of police so that police can no longer infringe on our First Amendment rights as they did today.”
‘Not a one-day thing’
In Atlanta, where the fight for justice for police victim Rayshard Brooks continues, 35 people came out for a Nov. 4 action at the CNN Center called by an ad-hoc coalition.
At the rally, Lizz Toledo of the Atlanta Peoples Power Assembly said: “We need to keep it up. This is not a one-day thing. Between now and Jan. 20, and even after Jan. 20, we have to keep fighting for the people’s mandate.”
In New York, street actions began even before Election Day. On Nov. 2, Black Solidarity Day, the December 12th Movement led a Black Power march through Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Over 100 people marched, chanting “Whose streets? Our streets! Whose Bed-Stuy? Our Bed-Stuy!” They took over half of Fulton Street and outmaneuvered police vans to continue the march.
Then, on Nov. 4, the newly formed New York Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression rallied and distributed leaflets calling for a people’s mandate at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Speakers represented the New York Community Action Project, BAYAN USA, the International League of People’s Struggle, New York Boricua Resistance, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Struggle-La Lucha newspaper.
Members of the Socialist Unity Party in Los Angeles joined a Nov. 4 rally organized by Centro CSO at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. A banner proclaimed “Fight Trump” and “Stop killing Black and Brown people.”
Centro CSO member Luis Sifuentes declared: “We need to recognize that we live in a time where women in detention centers are forcibly sterilized, where children have died under ICE custody, where children have disappeared by the thousands, where families are separated at the border, where refugees are falling ill from COVID-19 and dying. It’s outrageous!
Sifuentes concluded, “This isn’t the time to slow down. This is the time to stand up and fight back!” FightBack! News reported.
‘Battles are won in the streets’
On Nov. 7, Unión del Barrio and other groups held a 30-car protest caravan through Los Angeles declaring “¡Trump fuera! — Trump must go!” Organizers emphasized that both of the big business parties and their presidential candidates are enemies of oppressed and working-class people.
Speaking for the Socialist Unity Party, Rebecca Jackson-Moesser said: “Almost 150 years ago, Lucy Parsons prophetically told us, never be deceived that the rich will allow us to vote away their wealth. Real battles always have been and always will be won in the streets.
“For oppressed people, it’s only through organized, unified, international solidarity that we can resist the colonial framework that dominates every aspect of our lives. … Joe Biden is Donald Trump in sheep’s clothing,” she said.
“Now more than ever, all progressive forces must unite and keep our focus on the liberation of Black and Brown people, smashing white supremacy and permanently dismantling capitalism. … We all have a duty and responsibility to mass liberation, to give the next generation an earth they can inhabit and to eradicate the billionaire parasites who are bleeding our world dry.”
Socialist Unity Party activists also joined the Black People’s March on the White House in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7, organized by the Black Is Back Coalition. People rallied at Malcolm X Park, where banners and signs proclaimed: “Black Power Matters! Down with colonialism! Black community control of the police!”
Post-election protests for a people’s mandate were also held in Chicago; Dallas; Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Fla.; Milwaukee; New Orleans; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City; San Diego; and many other cities.