“With or without such demands, we see the core innovation of the role of the frontliner as being embedded in the new relations that become possible:

between the ‘frontline’ and the second line, the third, and other supportive protesters. One similarity between the experiences of Hong Kong protesters and those in the streets of the US is that, while many have long experienced the ways that police repression functions, this is for many the first time (or at least one of the most severe moments) when police repression of peaceful protest is visible. In some sense, the evolving role of the frontliner was actually forced into existence by police action. Once repression of the movement in Hong Kong passed a certain point, two facts became apparent: First, police are fundamentally violent, and they will dispense that violence regardless of whether their targets are protesting peacefully or not. Second, it became apparent that if the movement was to continue, protesters would have to be able to defend themselves.

As police and National Guard reinforcements try to disperse protests in incredibly violent ways on the streets of almost every major city in the US, it seems possible that the country might see a similar tipping point in terms of the scale and intensity of repression. For those looking for ways forward—ways to support our friends and comrades, to work in solidarity, to mourn those killed by police, and to ensure that such systemic violence will end someday—one method of continuing the struggle might be found by recognizing that the role of the frontliner is to protect everyone else. So we say: welcome to the frontlines, and also to the second and third line, and to the medics and supply lines, everyone holding spaces, the illustrators and printers and distributors, the live-streamers and everyone tweeting information from police scanners. Maybe this time we can all be in it together.”

From “Welcome to the Frontlines: Beyond Violence and Nonviolence” in chuang.

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