Interview with Members of the Revolution Club, Los Angeles, on Their Disruption of Trump’s Treasury Secretary Mnuchin:

Setting an Example—Acting in Bold Ways Against the Fascists and Their Regime

March 5, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Treasury in the Trump/Pence fascist regime, came to UCLA on February 26 for a speaking engagement—and was met with protest right inside the auditorium, including three women from the Revolution Club and Refuse Fascism who got up one after the other to expose Mnuchin and the regime and righteously disrupted the event. spoke with two members of the Revolution Club who were part of this protest. The following are excerpts.

Q: The video clips of your action have gone viral, but as two of the people involved in the disruption of Mnuchin, tell us what happened, what you did.

Luna: So, we had found out that Mnuchin was on campus, and we were trying to figure out how we would go at this, because we wanted to protest outside, but also we wanted at least some people to go inside and disrupt it. And we met beforehand—there were three of us, and we read the article on revcom about the Tax Bill, and discussed what it was about. Mnuchin was one of the main people behind the Tax Bill. So we got into that. And then we met for about an hour. And then when we got there, there was a small gathering outside the venue itself. You probably saw this, there were some people in a cape and dressed up like Marie Antoinette and stuff like that.

Tala: There was a law professor at UCLA who sent out an email and that was building for Mnuchin in the form of hissing. So while the speech was happening, there were all these people sitting on the same side of the room who were just hissing at him, at his introduction, and how people were saying he was a great student of economics, and they were hissing at appropriate times. And they had also called on people to wear black, and they were all wearing black. And then before he came out to speak, there was a woman, and she was introducing him, and she told everyone, “If you protest, if you disrupt, you will be warned and you will be subject to arrest.” So that’s it, warning everyone in the crowd. This was someone from the university, some official.

Q: And you forged ahead...

Luna: Yeah. (chuckles) Exactly. So Mnuchin came out, but after that he was kind of like... to put it simply, he was very disgusting...

Tala: We hadn’t planned when we were gonna get up and disrupt. And it was kind of like, we were listening to him. He started his speech, and right off the bat he was spewing his fascist poison. He was talking about.... “Oh, part of what you may not know about my job is that I impose sanctions on different countries.” And people very appropriately hissed because sanctions starve people all over the world, including what is happening in Yemen right now. But he was like, “Oh, you don’t like sanctions? So you like the oppression that’s going on all over the world.” It was just getting people to go along with that American chauvinism. But in that room it wasn’t really fooling people. And that the United States was a force for good in the world, and was a liberator of the people all over the world. And he was saying stuff about the Tax Bill, and people hissed at that. And his response was, “Oh, I guess you haven’t gotten a raise in your paychecks. Oh, I forget... I’m talking to students right now.” And so he was just mocking people and he was just disgusting. And so it got to the point... I wanted to stand up at all of those points, but once it got to the point where he said, “Oh, we’re doing a great job disarming North Korea,” I just popped up.

Luna: But before that, he had asked the crowd, “Oh, you are hissing, why are you guys hissing. What is it that you disapprove of?” And the person was like, “I think it’s full of shit.” And people were like snapping and like that.

Tala: Yeah, there was a whole tone of defiance in the room, with the hissing, and with the combination of all of the things. The theater, Marie Antoinette, it was really powerful all together. And so at the point when he was talking about disarming North Korea, I got up and I agitated. The agitation is in the video, but it was how this is just lies. And this is what they do to people all over the world, and what the system is doing with the Tax Bill to Black and Brown people, punishing them for the misery that this very system puts them in. And then Luna got up and did a very heartfelt challenge, including my favorite part when she says people are not gonna have anything to eat. And what is this money gonna go to?—to developing nuclear weapons and to bombing people all over the world. And so we brought reality to that. And at the end there was a call to action for people to stand up against this.

I was lifted out of my seat. And we were all dragged out of the room and arrested, and we were told while we were in custody we were read this verbal statement that we were banned for seven days from the campus. We were charged with trespassing and I was charged with resisting arrest.

Q: We saw the videos of you being carried out, and you were also roughed up while you were outside, you were handcuffed.

Luna: And there were people who were protesting outside as well, some people who stayed. And when the crowd was coming out, we started doing agitation for people to stand with us, with one person on the bullhorn. And then the pigs started to arrest him, and they were very brutally arresting him, and then another guy from the Revolution Club started doing agitation, and started calling on people to take videos and calling people’s attention on the brutal arrest that was happening, and so they descended on him, as well. And so they arrested two other comrades who were outside, and they charged them with disturbing the peace.

They are all ridiculous charges. It was to send a statement that “we are not going to tolerate this kind of defiance.”

I remember when Tala got lifted up out of her seat, and I started doing agitation, I noticed everyone had their phone out, everyone was filming it and filming me. And I was like, ok, I gotta make this count cause I gotta speak to them. This might get somewhere. People are filming, I want to speak to them, but call him out as well.

Q: Tell us why you decided to do this—you as individuals; but also as the Revolution Club, why are you are taking up the battle to drive out the Trump/Pence regime?

Tala: So the system of capitalism has been destroying people’s lives for a very long time now. But when Trump was elected, there was a whole analysis and a recognition that this is actually... this is going to take a leap to something very different. It’s gonna be an escalation of the horrors that have already been coming down on people, but even more than that, a restructuring of the governmental norms into a fascist state. And a recognition of what that’s gonna mean, not just for people in this country with the very slow genocide of Black people that has been occurring in this country having the potential to accelerate. And now all the stuff we are seeing with immigrants being rounded up, being called “snakes” and “animals,” all of this.... not just for the people here, but for the people of the world, like the people in North Korea who right now are looking out into the ocean and are seeing all these battleships parked outside on the beaches. And I just think about the fear that people are living in when they look out and see that and when they have all these drills that are useless—if a nuclear bomb drops it’s not like getting under your desk is going to save you. But they’re conducting drills right now. And it’s just outrageous. They’re putting the entire planet in danger. They’re putting all of humanity in danger.

And so coming from that recognition, and coming from the understanding that this whole system is rotten, and then watching the understanding that is concentrated in Avakian’s film, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible about how we got here. I remember reading the article [by Bob Avakian] on the Weimar, and on the right-wing conspiracy, and it speaks to where this came from. How it didn’t come out of nowhere; how it came out of the very workings of the system of capitalism itself. And how the necessity of what they are facing at this moment is calling for a heightened repression to maintain stability in this country in order to be able to compete for profits reliably because of the contradictions they’re facing, and trying to be the top imperialist power and maintain that position.

And so this is deadly serious. They are seeing this system as being totally at stake, and so they are willing to take great risks in order to save that system. And so that includes all of the horrors that they are unleashing on people even as there has been very important opposition. They are hammering through with their program.

And we recognize as people… we are in danger, humanity is in danger. And the only way that we are gonna be able to even have the opportunity to build a better world is if we drive these fascists out of power. And that has to take the form of millions of people out in the streets, doing non-violent mass resistance, in a sustained way, day after day, night after night, in order to get them out of power. We are facing a situation right now where people are afraid to confront that. Where we’re in a country that has had a lot of political stability, where people were trained to think that politics is just voting every four years, where there hasn’t been political upheaval, or a very mass political upheaval since the ’70s if we count the opposition to the war in Iraq under Bush, but that wasn’t even on the same level. And then war has not happened on this soil for, since the Civil War. So there’s a lot of stability, and people are just going about their normal lives.

And this is something that happened in Nazi Germany, too, where people thought they could wait it out, that maybe elections were going to save them, but we recognize that this is not the case. There is a gap in people’s understanding. They hate what’s happening, but they’re not willing to confront what it really is that we’re facing, and what it’s gonna take to stop it and the sacrifices that they’re going to have to make or rearrange their priorities in order to actually meet that goal which is a great goal, and is absolutely necessary for humanity.

So we have to be out there setting that example, and acting in very bold ways, to help people recognize the importance of really stepping out. And the reality of what it is that we are facing at this moment, the real danger. And that is also part of why, coming from the understanding that we’re coming from and because this sets the context for everything we are doing, we are spreading this talk by Avakian all over the place to bridge that gap in people’s understanding, to get people to wrangle with the actual questions, and not just of what we are facing. A lot of people think that we should be doing something, but they don’t see the potential to really drive this regime out. And so he gets into all these questions, what are the barriers, and then, how do we fight through them to really bring the people out in the streets.

And one of the most important points he makes in that talk is that people act based on what they understand. There’s this part in the talk where he talks about the experience at Kent State when they were shot down by the National Guard. The people who survived that regrouped at a park, and there was a whole fight over what were they gonna do, were they just gonna go home and disperse, or were they gonna take on the National Guard. The point is, how did people come to be so brave? It’s not just something that’s spontaneous or inherent, but it comes from recognizing what the necessity is. What is the danger of what we’re facing? And then what we need to do in relation to that?

Q: Luna, did you want to add anything?

Luna: Yeah, I was wondering why did we do this? I think a lot of it was coming from what Tala said. I was also part of the Freeway Action [blocking a major LA freeway during rush hour with signs saying “Trump/Pence Regime Must Go”], the first time we did it. And I think what it comes down to, is that point in the talk by BA, the point that he talks about. What are we facing? What are we confronting really with a fascist regime in power, and taking the reins of this rotten system, like Tala said, that has its finger on the nuclear trigger? What is nuclear war gonna look like if we get there? What future is the entire planet and civilization facing if people don’t recognize those stakes and are able to step outside of the norm, and step outside of the protest as usual? That even comes down to the other point that he makes [about order or justice]: do we want to go along with the order even if that’s the order of fascism, or do we want justice, even if that means getting outside of our comfort zone and putting our bodies on the line? And I think that if people… don’t recognize this, don’t call this out for what it is, don’t put their bodies on the line, millions of lives are actually going to be at stake... you know, the point about no change has been made without people being out on the streets, without people stepping outside their comfort zone.

And I was even thinking about, I had talked to this guy, maybe six months back, I can’t even remember. He was part of ActUp in the ’80s. I asked him, why did he choose [to act], and he told me about when he was in an action, and pigs would come and arrest him, and they would be wearing blue medical gloves, already signaling to them that they are gonna be... they don’t want to touch them—this was really fucked up. I asked him why were you a part of it, what compelled you. And he was like, you know... everyone around me was dying. He said he would go to organizing meetings and people would be on oxygen tanks. People around him were dying and no one would say anything about it. So, he said, “I had to do it, I had to be a part of this, because if I didn’t do it no one was gonna do or say anything about it.”

And then also the Freedom Riders, and people who decided to keep going—even though a lot of them were beaten to a pulp, but that no, we have to keep doing this. It does come from recognizing the necessity to do so.

Then I was also… at a meeting we had back in December, it was just a little bit after we did the freeway action, and there were some people who didn’t agree with it. They were like, “Well, you had a lot of people who were really upset and didn’t even like it, and we need to be attracting people, and being popular and what have you.” And I kind of put it like, “Why is it that more people are more upset by the fact that we blocked the freeway than they are that Trump is threatening nuclear war to 25 million people?” That also comes back to the point that BA talks about that people would be more upset if dogs were shot down in the street than they are about cops shooting down Black people. It’s just outrageous. And the fact that people were upset that we blocked the freeway… it’s within the context of all the work that we’re confronting. It reinforces the need to do stuff like this, the need to put bodies on the line, to make sacrifices...

Q: Can you talk a little about the process of how this Mnuchin protest came together? There was an open letter, for instance, that came out before this signed by different organizations and people, including the Revolution Club.

Luna: I think how this came together was, there were some students that people had met during the Rahm Emanuel protest before at which one of our comrades also got arrested. And also I had gone to a meeting on campus of Students for Justice in Palestine. And we were talking about Trump’s announcement of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. So I went with someone else from Refuse Fascism, and we said we were from the Student Task Force. They had this whole presentation of why Trump made that move. And then they opened it up to discussion, but nobody really wanted to discuss. I said, wait, we should get into this. Ideological questions need to be brought up—there was kind of a feeling that no one could go there. And it came up: what are the parallels, or how do you guys see the similarities between the wall in Palestine and the wall between the U.S. and Mexico? They were kinda hesitant to go there, and people didn’t really speak to it. So we were thinking, ok, that’s real important, cuz there’s a connection.

So then I spoke, and I said what is similar to the wall here and the wall in Palestine is that they’re both contributing to ethnic cleansing. This is part of a whole program that is going to totally get rid of people, and, make America white again. That’s also what has been going on in Palestine. There’s a need for us to drive them out of power. That’s necessary. So we met someone who said I’d really like to work with you guys. ...

Tala: I recall, it was a meeting where we hadn’t really set the agenda, we were just gonna talk about Mnuchin is coming to campus and what do we do. But underlying all that, I think all these people were trying to address the question of, there is not a massive movement on campus. And they’re coming from a different perspective, like this person was embracing the word fascism, but more saying like America has been fascist. Not recognizing that this is actually a leap. So people were coming from all kinds of different perspectives, and we united with them because Mnuchin needed to be opposed. And what they were doing was objectively good. Very good.

So we were trying to get into the question of how do we build the student movement. And it was interesting. I asked them what they thought was in the way, what were the barriers. And they said that all the bureaucracy of the campus impedes peoples’ ability to do things they want to do. They said all these campus groups are kind of conservative and they’re coming from a more middle class background regarding education where they think that education is going to be the way they help the community, and they focus resources on research and exposing the horrors that are happening in their community. It’s not really geared toward mobilizing and creating grassroots resistance, which is what we were saying.

And so they were recognizing, here we have a situation that’s bad, what all these fascists are putting forward, it should not be tolerated. But there wasn’t a recognition that this student movement that is forming has to have to orientation of driving the regime out. So we got into those questions and there was some back and forth with them, and ultimately we made plans to write an open letter to oppose Mnuchin.... So there was the Graduate Student Union, people from Students for Justice in Palestine, and we were working kind of indirectly with all these groups.

We wrote a letter which they mostly worked on, and we contributed to, and we put it out, like a week before the program happened, and we spread it everywhere. And we got different groups to sign the letter and to be there. We learned a lot through that process.

Q: Tell us more about the ban they declared on you and others after the arrest. You yourself are a student—how does it affect you?

Tala: I am a student, and the ban itself is ridiculous, and it’s especially ridiculous for me, because I go to UCLA. And they said it to us verbally. Then we came back to defy the ban with 11 minutes of silence for 11 million undocumented people on March 1—part of what we organized was a human blockade. There are pictures, it was a very beautiful action. There were about 50 plus students, and people were joining on the spot. It was heartfelt appreciation for people actually calling on others to stand with immigrants, to do something in the face of all the deportations that are happening. There was a woman who was undocumented herself who talked about, this isn’t just about Dreamers, this is about undocumented people, and we’re not gonna allow all these divisions of “criminal” or not, we can’t allow these divisions, or the “good immigrants” and the “bad immigrants”—we have to stand with all immigrants, and protect them, it’s our responsibility.

It was very multinational. There were Black students and white students, Latino students. It was really important what we did. When we left the human blockade, one of the pigs came up to us and wagged his finger in my face, saying, “You’re the first one who’s gonna get arrested, you have a ban on you for seven days.” But then they made a political calculation, because of the whole situation they were facing, we think, not to arrest us then and there.

It was beautiful, the people who were at that protest. When it ended, they escorted us away from that area when it ended, in order for the police not to snatch us up when the whole crowd dispersed.

Q: Wasn’t this organized in part by someone who had watched part of the BA film?

Tala: Yes, the student had met the Revolution Club on the campus the day after the Rahm Emanuel event, and she saw our signs, and thought this is really great. She considers herself a revolutionary, she was very positive, she was taking pictures of our sign that said “No More Police Murder,” and we had talked to her a bit. We got into the question of who she considers her people. She considers herself as a “white-passing Black person,” and she said it’s not just Black people who are my people, it’s all people, LGBT people, she was expressing that very beautifully. She talked of going to groups to get them to stand up for LGBT people and being shunned by them. She said she has this group called Artists and Activists, and we would love to have y’all come and do a presentation for 20 minutes or something. And we said yeah, we would love to come. And I gave her a palm card for the talk.

And people went to the meeting and showed clips, and had engagement about the talk, and all of them were really enthusiastic, and not only wanted to talk about the call for March 1, but through this, through engaging with the talk, she took a lot of initiative organizing this thing. She made a Facebook page, and she invited all these people.



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