The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Military Stands Ready to Intervene

May 10, 2021

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that an F-15C fighter jet had been placed on high alert status by the California National Guard during the George Floyd protests last spring and summer. Obviously the only purpose of such a mission would have been to terrify and disperse protesters by flying low at window-rattling speeds, with the jet’s afterburners streaming columns of flames.

Ultimately the F-15C fighter jet was never deployed against protesters in California. But the fact that this possibility was even considered pushed several people in the National Guard to contact the Los Angeles Times, which printed the story after viewing documents which verified the claims.

Not surprisingly, Major General David Baldwin, who heads the California Military Department, refused to acknowledge such a mission was ever contemplated. But that didn’t stop General Baldwin from firing a top general and suspending another a few days after the story was published, even though Baldwin continued to deny what he called the “F-15C narrative,” which he labeled a “fictional event.”

That wasn’t the only military mission aimed against the George Floyd protests that Baldwin claimed to know nothing about. Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported the California National Guard had sent two spy planes, an RC-26B reconnaissance plane, as well as a Lakota helicopter, to hover over and monitor small, peaceful protests in the normally sleepy, but affluent Sacramento suburb of El Dorado Hills ... where General Baldwin happens to live!

Five current and former Guard officers with knowledge of the flights expressed their surprise to the Times that the military was engaged in such a way. “El Dorado Hills was the most monitored place in California,” said Dan Woodside, a recently retired Guard pilot who has flown the RC-26B. A current Guard officer, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak about the mission, said, “We hear ‘El Dorado,’ and it’s, ‘What? What the hell is happening in El Dorado?’”

Of course, the civilian authority, run out of the governor’s office, is supposed to be ultimately responsible for the policy of the National Guard in each state. But in both instances, California Governor Newsom’s spokespersons admitted that Newsom had no advance knowledge of what the National Guard was doing—basically, that it acted on its own. All the governor’s office could do afterwards was issue some weak assurances that it was writing stricter rules and regulations to prevent such actions in the future.

This ridiculous use of the military does illustrate something serious: just how quickly the democratic rights that are supposed to be the bulwark of this country can be disposed of, when a few military officials deem it necessary. It shows how easily the military can circumvent, push aside, or ignore the civilian authorities during times of crisis.

This is not an accident. Behind all the political games, the elections and the screen of democracy, there is an armed state apparatus, ready to act on its own in the name of supposedly “safeguarding law and order.” All military personnel are trained to believe that beyond all the political twists and turns, it is up to them to preserve order ... against the working class and most oppressed layers of the population.

And the politicians not only won’t stop this, but most of them will hop on the bandwagon mouthing the usual rhetoric of “patriotism” and “country.”