By Robert Madrone
Austin sellout activist, Chas Moore, received a $150,000 fellowship from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, a bourgeois philanthropic organization that provides grants to NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) in order to fund counter-insurgency efforts among the masses, in particular the rebellion against US police brutality.
For four years through his group Austin Justice Coalition (AJC), Moore has worked to defang and pacify the movement against police brutality in the United States, funneling revolutionary potential into legalism and dead-end reformism that does nothing to change the oppressive nature of the capitalist police.
The Nathan Cummings Foundation cited AJC’s campaign against the Austin Police contract renewal as a key reason for rewarding Moore. Along with other nonprofits, he organized against the renewal of the contract, putting it in limbo to demand so-called “police accountability.” The NGOs called for more meaningless review boards, unpaid suspensions, and other toothless reforms.
In a New York Times editorial from April 2018, Moore and AJC Board Chair Sukyi McMahon state, “After decades of lawsuits and mass protests failed to radically reform the troubled Police Department, we tried a new tactic a few years ago: Targeting one of the most problematic police union contracts in the country. As a result, Austin went from having a retrograde contract to one that offers transparency and accountability.”
AJC’s work has done nothing to stop APD from continuing to target the working class and oppressed masses of Austin. The “mass protests,” that they mock in their statement are the only reason that NGOs have any sway, for the ruling-class’ fear of total rebellion.
Moore, formerly an event planner, first arose during the Black Lives Matter movement in Austin, some four years ago. His organizing gained steam following the killing of Mike Brown and Larry Jackson Jr., a man murdered by Austin Police detective Charles Kleinert.
Revisionist groups like the People’s Task Force, led by the now defunct International Socialist Organization (ISO) and activists like Moore and Fatima Mann (a co-founder of AJC and Counter Balance ATX) drove that momentum into the ground. Both Moore and Mann diverted the masses energy into forming the Austin Justice Coalition, a nonprofit that continues to gorge itself through grant chasing and hustling donations from the petty bourgeoisie.
Part of AJCs platform is backing the liberal lie of Community Policing, saying they “believe Austin is safest when citizens and law enforcement officials work together.” The working class oppressed nations know the absurdity of this proposal, but hustlers like AJC continue to push the lie that simply by getting to know cops better, the masses will be safe from their brutality.
In an interview with Borealis Philanthropy, McMahon said, “I come from a policing family. My dad was a model for policing to me. He never once drew his gun and didn’t believe that should be necessary in the course of his 40 years as a police officer. I felt like I had a perspective that could be lent to this work.”
In 2017, Chas Moore defended taking a $250 donation from Austin’s police chief at that time, Art Acevedo. He justified taking this cash using the circular logic that it would be used to organize against the police, showing that no source of money is too questionable for Moore.
Despite being a spotlight-seeking individual, Moore has been able to avoid major scrutiny from his nonprofit circles after assaulting a bar manager in May last year. Moore went into his former workplace, the Recess Arcade Bar and was immediately asked to leave by the manager on duty. When the manager moved to escort him out, Moore initiated a fight, and footage shows Moore punching the man outside. Though the incident happened in May, Moore was not charged until September later that year.
While Chas Moore is from the oppressed Black nation, his politics and actions are entirely in line with the imperialist state, which elevates figures like Moore on the basis of reactionary identity politics. Figures like Moore are sought out by the ruling class in order to fool the masses into believing that change is possible through the very institutions that the bourgeoisie controls.
The Nathan Cummings Foundation has a strong focus on carrying out this same counter-revolutionary role in Israel with its New Israel Fund (NIF), which describes itself as ‘the leading organization advancing democracy and equality for all Israelis.’
They seek ‘equality for Israelis’, but do not emphasize the same for Palestinians, a blatant display of their national chauvinism. Israel is a violent settler-colonial state, and there will be no democracy for Palestinians, or the Israeli masses themselves, as long as it exists.
While many are not fooled by charlatans like Moore, too many are deceived to believe that his poison pill of reformism and adherence to bourgeois process is the only option. This shows the need for principled, revolutionary leadership among the oppressed nations to emerge and lead class struggle in proletarian revolution.
The fight for liberation won’t be rewarded with grants or met with applause from the wealthy. The only liberation for the working class and oppressed masses, whether Palestinian, Black, or otherwise, is through people’s war against the imperialist nations, particularly to free the Black nation from the United States, a country which has waged war on Black people for its entire existence.