By Mark Mitchell
On Sunday, the community organization Mike Ramos Brigade protested outside of the Target at Capital Plaza in Austin in honor of those slain by police. The protest was called for on the basis that Target, the large retail corporation headquartered in Minneapolis, is responsible for funding the police and financing their forensics lab centered on the surveillance of working class and black communities.
A large banner reading “Stop financing the police, fuck Target” was on display in front of the crowd nearing 100 in attendance. They chanted popular slogans condemning the police and the use of reactionary violence against black and working class people.
As the protest continued more people began to amass. Target had chosen to close and board up many stores around the nation in response to the people’s uprisings, this store however was expected to be open, being their busiest location in Austin. On Saturday the corporation chose to board up and closes down for the day, losing thousands in revenue. The workers, who had previously been forced to work during the pandemic, were now issued leave with pay at an increased rate.
As the crowd grew the energy increased, and community members began filling the parking lot in support. The protesters far outnumbered the Austin Police Department stationed in the parking lot. Soon protesters created a makeshift barricade from shopping carts around the storefront. According to witnesses on the scene, some of the boards came down and the store was then expropriated by the masses. The main items taken were socks and children’s items, necessities that many have been forced to go without due to the economic crisis.
Activists and protesters remained firm in front of the store continuing to chant and protest the police killings and Target’s complicity in them, as well as championing the workers at Target and decrying the mistreatment they face at the hands of the corporation.
After several minutes of expropriation more police arrived and the crowed vanished. APD Chief Brian Manley arrived at the scene himself to protect the corporation from the people. There are a few reported cases of arrests after the incident. The fact that APD deploys its top brass only highlights their price tag, Manley did nothing to prevent his officers from wantonly firing on crowds of bystanders and protesters alike with so-called ‘less-lethal’ rounds, landing one man in critical condition, and he was busy protecting Target from people who need clothes, food, and water, all things that should be accessible and free of charge.
In a statement issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety’s (state police) director, Steve McCraw claims that “Antifa” was behind the action, describing the protesters as “violent extremists.”
When the people have lived without, due to the fact that the capitalist system is driven by profit instead of need, it is no surprise that they are forced by this same system to resort to taking things without paying. Those who live without for most of their lives cannot be shamed by the system for taking anything at all, be it beer, gaming systems, or footwear. Target pays people only a fraction of what they earn for the company, this is theft, but Manley, the police, etc. are all servants of the owning class against the rest of the population, and consequently they will never be won to the people’s position.