Based on all of the articles, videos, and first-person commentary I’ve seen so far, it seems like there have been seven basic categories of participants in the uprising/street battles to date. I’m curious as to whether others would agree with this assessment based on their own experiences.
- Conventional protestors: Persons of all ethnic backgrounds, ranging from lower class to upper-middle-class (and even upper class, given the participation of Mitt Romney), whose level of political awareness is limited to criticisms of “police misconduct,” “police brutality,” “social injustice,” “racial injustice,” etc. Basically, the things they learned in their university social science classes and liberal Methodist Sunday Schools. However limited their vision, we will need these folks for the eventual human wave attack on the military-industrial complex.
- Cops: Despite what I’ve seen claimed on many leftist and anarchist websites, there has actually been very limited state repression of the uprising, if any at all. At most, there have been some tear gas canisters dropped here and there and some rubber bullets fired. To my knowledge, no protestors or even rioters/looters have been killed by cops (if I’m wrong, please correct me). The worst case I know of is a leftist journalist that was blinded in one eye by a rubber bullet. The cops have actually taken more casualties than the protestors/rioters (hurray for our side!). Yes, I’ve seen all the videos of cops batoning protestors, but those amount to street fights involving rioting cops (who are probably acting against orders) not formal state repression. This is nursery school level stuff. Saddam Hussein would take out entire Kurdish towns with chemical weapons, the same kinds of tactics the Saudis are using in Yemen today.
- Black Lives Matter: While there are literal organizations that call themselves BLM, it seems like BLM is more of a concept or a movement in a general sense that an organization. The politics of BLM seem more radical than that of conventional protestors, but still trending toward reformism/progressivism, with the happy exception of smaller factions with a more Black Panther-like ideology. Also, a lot of BLM activists seem to be something other than African-American. That’s not a criticism, just an observation.
- Exaggerated sports rioters: Mostly young people, predominantly though not exclusively white, who regard the uprising as a means of engaging in mayhem, largely in rebellion against being put under house arrest for three months, and lacking access to sports, concerts, clubs, movies, parties, etc at the onset of Summer. Many of the participants in the neo-streaking/Tidepod challenge of statue vandalism seem to be drawn from this category.
- The Far Left: The presence of the far-left in the uprising has been greatly exaggerated by Trump, his associates, and the talking heads at FOX, which is not surprising given their neo-Nixonian posturing. Although the far-left has had some presence in the uprising and probably constitutes a sector of the statue vandalism fetishists, and a much, much, smaller sector of the conventional protestors.
- The Far-Right: The presence of the far-right has been much smaller than even the presence of the far-left, although the far-right has had some tiny presence at times (for instance, it was probably them who vandalized the synagogue two blocks from my residence or, if not them, just some exaggerated sports rioters). Interestingly, the positions of the far-right have been split on the uprising. Some are predictably in favor of repression (typically law and order and/or racist types). Others are in favor of the uprising (mostly police state hating militia/gun nut/sovereign citizen/avenge Waco types). And some see the uprising as a means of fomenting the apocalypse (the accelerationist “boogaloo” types).
- Actual Lumpenproletarian Insurgents: Predominantly though not exclusively folks from the very bottom layers of the socioeconomic hierarchy, predominantly though not exclusively minorities, who have engaged in actual class warfare against capitalism and actual armed struggle against the state by destroying enemy military bases (“police precincts”), enemy military vehicles (“police cars”), star chambers (“courthouses”), neo-usurer outposts (“banks”), and neo-sweatshops (“fast food restaurants”), while assassinating enemy troops (“cops”) and directly expropriating ruling class resources from neo-plantations (“superstores”).
Obviously, these are not absolute categories, and some categories may overlap with each other, with some individuals belonging to multiple categories. In my own area what I have observed is that conventional protestors seem to be the largest group (predictably) and have included people from all kinds of backgrounds (though heavy on young people and students of all colors). There have been smaller and more militant demonstrations against more specific targets (like the police station and city hall) by mostly though not exclusively black protestors, and who seem to be predominantly working-class but not lumpen per se. The statue vandals seem to be primarily though not exclusively white, with the minority participants seeming to originate from outside the lumpenproletariat.
Interestingly, however, the looters of nearby shopping centers have been predominantly white as well, and often young men in their late 20 and 30s, not “kids” or minorities, and are clearly lumpenproletariat. My impression so far is that the white lumpenproletariat in my area has been more likely to take direct action against the system, while the black and Hispanic lumpenproletariat, with some exceptions, have largely used the uprising as a cover for settling scores with each other. There has been a wave of obviously gang-related shootings in the area in recent times, for example. However, what I’ve observed locally does not seem to be the national norm, where the minority sectors of the lumpenproletariat have clearly been the vanguard sector of the vanguard class.
I welcome the observations and insights of others on these questions.