(eng) ANTIFA INFO-BULLETIN, Olympics 1984

Tom Burghardt (tburghardt@igc.apc.org)
Mon, 13 May 1996 09:04:42 +0200

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|| * -- RESEARCH -- * -- May 11, 1996 -- * -- RESEARCH -- * ||




Counter-Insurgency Goes For The Gold


Date: Thu, 9 May 1996 20:58:25 -0700 (PDT)
From: Michael Novick <mnovickttt@igc.apc.org>
Subject: from the archives: olympics 84



This article, based on research and drafts by Michael
Novick, is reprinted from the Spring 1994 issue of BREAKTHROUGH,
the political journal of Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, an
anti-imperialist grouping with chapters in San Francisco and
several other cities (including Los Angeles at the time).
[Prairie Fire Organizing Committee still exists and can be
reached at pfoc@igc.apc.org. They have a chapter in Atlanta now,
but I am not sure how involved they are in organizing against
Olympics repression there today.]

I thought the article merited a re-reading by activists
today, both for the things which remain timely and those which
are dated. There are striking similarities in terms of state
repressive planning now for the Olympics in Atlanta and the
Republican and Democratic National Conventions in San Diego and
Chicago respectively, with what the following article described
in 1984. Today's expressed justification for the repressive
buildup appears to be the militia movement, although the Black,
Latino and Native American liberation struggles continue to be
the state's essential target, along with all communities of color
in general.

What is also striking is the undeniable success of many of
the state strategies outlined at the time in this paper: the
counter-insurgency war against Black, Puerto Rican and Native
American freedom fighters and their support base, the re-
intensifaction of the Cold War, the effort to liquidate Central
American national liberation struggles and their solidarity
movements in the U.S. were all largely carried to fruition,
setting the stage for the current political period. It is vital
that we learn lessons from those setbacks, because the economic
and political contradictions that require the state to steadily
intensify its repressive apparatus none-the-less persist to this
day, and new revolutionary challenges are emerging. In Atlanta
today, as well as in San Diego for the Republican Convention and
Chicago for the Democrats, many of the same measures outlined
here 12 years ago are being put into place again. We need to be
vigilant and creative to avoiding repeating the losses of the
past. -- M.N.



Los Angeles is gearing up to host the 1984 Summer Olympics.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent by the L.A.
Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC), multi-national
corporations, and all levels of government, to finance this
colossal spectacle. With the Presidential race moving into high
gear this summer, the Olympics will surely be played as a
celebration of "America Resurgent: standing tall and on the
move!" More than a boost to sagging national spirit, the Olympics
will be used to build support for the U.S. march down the road to

Even with its image tarnished by the withdrawal of the
Soviet Union and its allies, the Games will be of international
importance. Faced with an erosion of popular support for
intervention in Central America, it is a major opportunity to get
Americans rooting for the "home team, the greatest country on
earth." Behind the patriotic hoopla, the official Olympic logo of
Sam the Eagle designed by Disney, the candy bars and Olympic
banks, another more ominous development is taking shape. Under
the guise of providing "security against a possible terrorist
threat," the government is developing a police state apparatus in
the sun and smog of Southern California.

George Orwell, whose book "1984" has entered popular
consciousness to become synonymous with the police state, once
wrote that "international sport is like war without the guns."
This August in Los Angeles, the guns will not be absent. As
10,000 Olympians take the field, they will be outnumbered two-to-
one by law enforcement and counter-insurgency personnel from the
LAOOC, five dozen jurisdictions in California, the Army, Coast
Guard, National Guard, CIA, FBI, Secret Service, and secret
police from countless foreign countries. The estimated security
budget for all of this is between $100 and $200 million.

Enjoying tremendous prestige and respectability, with
hundreds of millions watching on T.V. worldwide, the Olympics
provide the perfect rationale for this mobilization of repressive
power. The security preparations for the Olympics do not arise
out of a momentary crisis, only to fall away when the danger has
passed. They fit into the long term trend in this country and in
Europe towards more repressive mechanisms of state control. The
development of domestic repression is a growing preoccupation for
all the imperialist countries and their client states.

Despite the talk of economic recovery in the West, the
global economy upon which the empire depends is in perpetual and
growing crisis. Colonies and neo-colonies are fighting for
liberation, and cracks and strains are appearing within and
between the advanced industrial countries. Across Europe, popular
movements are arising, and revolutionary armed actions are
occurring with greater frequency. In the U.S. there is a
generalized increase in progressive activity arising in response
to U.S. militarism and intervention, and to the depression-level
conditions faced by colonized people. The state has been unable
to destroy armed clandestine movements like the Puerto Rican
FALN, the Black Liberation Army, the Red Guerrilla Resistance,
the Armed Resistance Unit, and the United Freedom Front.

In the face of these challenges, all the western
"democracies" are becoming subtly militarized, adopting new laws
to suppress dissent and prevent the growth of anti-imperialist
struggle among their populations.

Up the coast to the north of Los Angeles, hundreds of
Federal and military agents have been sent to San Francisco,
where the Democratic Party Convention is to be held in July. As
tens of millions of dollars are spent on security to protect the
Convention, the San Francisco police have begun practicing large
scale riot control and containment operations against
demonstrations opposing U. S. aggression in Central America. When
one thousand people took to the streets to demonstrate against
Kissinger in April, the SFPD's mounted police and tactical squads
beat demonstrators and engineered a mass arrest of nearly 200

Over the past few months military and FBI agents have
stepped up their spying and harassment of individuals and
organizations in the area. The Livermore Action Group (LAG), a
mass organization which has mobilized thousands to carry out
civil disobedience against the nuclear war machine, has had its
meetings infiltrated by government spies. The FBI has launched a
wave of visits to the homes and workplaces of Black activists on
the west coast. It is apparent that the police machinery being
set up for the Olympics and the Conventions will remain with us
long after the last athlete and delegate have departed from the


The Olympics, financed by monopoly corporations, will raise
patriotic fervor and militarism to a fever pitch. If the U.S. can
sell Twinkies, McDonalds, and Buicks to the huge audience
watching the Games, why can't they sell the FBI SWAT team or the
new Los Angeles police anti-terrorist unit?

The Olympic aura as a supposedly apolitical celebration of
human sports endeavor is belied by its revival, at the turn of
the century, to inculcate European and U.S. youth with a more
martial spirit. The modern Games were begun by a Frenchman, Baron
de Coubertin, who was concerned that French youth were neither
sufficiently trained physically nor motivated politically to
fight for their empire. Since then, virtually every Olympiad has
been either the scene of sharp conflict, or suspended because of
World War. The Soviet Union was excluded from the time of the
Russian Revolution until 1952 and the Peoples Republic of China
was similarly banned for decades. In 1936, Hitler used the Munich
Olympics as a stage to promote Nazi racialism throughout Europe.

In the Americas, the history of the Olympics is no less
political. South of Los Angeles, the Mexico City Olympics of 1968
was the scene of a bloody massacre and mass repression. The
revolutionary upheaval which swept through Latin America in the
1960s emerged in Mexico, causing great concern not only to the
Mexican bourgeoisie but to the U.S. as well. More than five
hundred Mexican students and members of the independent left --
possibly as many as 2000 -- were machine-gunned to death in the
Tlaltelolco Plaza while demonstrating prior to the start of the

That same year, Black athletes in the U. S. threatened to
boycott the competition in protest against the brutal repression
of the Black liberation struggle going on in this country. Black
Olympic medalists Tommie Lee Smith and John Carlos expressed the
outrage of many when they raised their fists in the Black power
salute during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. For this
they were immediately ejected from Mexico.

In 1972, the Palestinian revolution came into the
international arena by taking hostage a number of Israeli
athletes who were also members of the Zionist armed forces.
Israeli, German and U.S. counter-insurgency squads attacked them,
precipitating a massacre. African nations boycotted the 1976
Olympics as part of the worldwide effort to isolate racist South
Africa and those nations which support it. Jimmy Carter fired the
opening salvo of a new cold war in 1980 by refusing to send the
U.S. team to the Moscow Games.

In spite of all this, the Olympics continue to enjoy a
reservoir of respectability that provides the U.S. government an
unequalled opportunity to get people to swallow increased
repression in the name of protecting the "integrity" of the


What is the U. S. so concerned about protecting in Los
Angeles? In addition to being the entertainment capital of the
world, L.A. is a strategic center of the military industrial
complex. The Olympic venues, which extend from Santa Barbara to
San Diego, are lined with Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine bases,
defense contractors and weapons research facilities. Los Angeles
is a mega-city which sprawls for miles and miles. It is the
southern capital of the Pacific Rim; the place from which
strategic commercial and military activity is launched south to
Mexico and Central America, and westward to the Philippines and

At the same time, L.A. is home for millions of Black and
Mexican people. The Mexican population there is second only to
Mexico City and is growing. While the region's economy is greatly
dependent on colonized Black and Mexican labor, these people are
at the bottom of the pyramid and face genocidal conditions of
existence. During the last six months, Los Angeles has been the
target of a Klan organizing drive [culminating in the burning of
threee crosses by the Klan, the Nazis, the Aryan Nations and
White Aryan Resistance]; and since December three other crosses
have been burned in Black communities. As the Games draw near,
the state is haunted by the fear that unemployment or police
killings may provoke another "Watts riot" a long, hot summer of
Black resistance like the one in 1965 when the inner city burned
as Black people rose up in the first intense rebellion of the

In L.A., the police have killed or shot an average of one
Black or Latino person every week for the past 15 years. The
relative economic situation of Black people today is worse than
it was at the height of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.
Unemployment among Black people is rising as it falls among
whites. Joblessness for Black youth is well over 50 percent. And
Black tenth graders in L.A. have lower reading levels and are
less likely to complete high school today than they were ten
years ago. PCP and other destructive drugs are pumped like a
deadly plague into Black neighborhoods.

The disregard for the human rights of colonized people which
prevails in L.A. is illustrated by the recent spraying of toxic
malathion in several Mexicano and Black neighborhoods to kill
fruit flies. This chemical is so corrosive that cars have to be
shielded so the spray won't destroy the finish. It has been used
as a crowd control weapon by the Junta in El Salvador, which has
sprayed it on demonstrators. One child has died after exposure in
L.A., and many other school children have reported nausea and
discomfort. Yet, despite strong community protests; the spraying
has continued.

Using the Olympics as a pretext, the state is moving to
prevent the Black and Mexican communities from rising up during
the Games or any time after. The Immigration and Naturalization
Service ("la migra"), citing the threat of Olympic terrorism, has
increased its activity against Central American refugees and has