Vanessa Taylor, July 29, 2020
With a series of uprisings gripping the United States, President Trump has not hidden his disdain for protesters. Beyond his threats to Minneapolis protesters and questionable executive orders, Trump has time and time again directed his ire at one particular group: “anarchists.” Trump’s constant invoking of anarchists to describe all protesters generally is a calculated attempt to delegitimize ongoing struggles — that much can clearly be seen in one of Trump’s tweets from earlier this week, where he wrote that protesters in Portland and Seattle were “actually … sick and deranged anarchists and agitators.”
The immediate knee-jerk reaction to Trump’s baiting is to often argue that the people taking to the streets in Portland — a city that has been under siege by mysterious federal agents — and Seattle are merely “protesters” and not “anarchists.” But remember the old saying: A broken clock is right twice a day. Trump may not be honest in his portrayal of anarchists, and he certainly does not have a clear view of the ongoing protests, but to deny anarchists’ presence altogether would be just as bold of a lie as the president’s.
Anarchists have been involved in protests across the country since the current social justice movement began in May. Rather than deny that anarchists exist, it’s more useful to acknowledge that in the middle of an insurrection summer best defined by a pursuit for Black liberation, Black anarchists are key to sustaining many of the ongoing uprisings. And while Trump may be out to scapegoat anarchy, Black anarchists are not allowing the president to scare them away from the work that has to be done.