Monday, June 01, 2020

We need change

George Floyd's tragic death is not an isolated incident, not a mistake, an aberration or an exception. It was systemic of America's long and shameful record of violating the civil and human rights of its African-American citizens and the brazen inhumanity demonstrated by its police. The killing of George Floyd has reawakened outrage over years of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police, renewing long-standing accusations of institutionalised racism.

African-American and Latino communities face more socio-economic insecurity and inequality, inadequate healthcare, shorter life spans, and higher incarceration rates than white Americans. Yet the response to these problems has not been to resolve them but to increase law enforcement and the militarisation of the police to contain the threat of protest. Instead of providing recourse via civic processes, voter suppression in these communities is rife and establishment political forces have continued block efforts to enfranchise these voters. 

Demonstrations against racism and police brutality spread to many cities across the US. Thousands have been arrested over the past few days. Demonstrators have marched in several countries in solidarity

"In city after city, we are witnessing actions that could be considered unnecessary or excessive force. We call for an immediate end to any such use of force and for law enforcement to ensure and protect the legal right to protest,” Rachel Ward, National Director of Research at Amnesty International USA, said in a statement. According to the human rights group, police tactics used so far can trigger escalating violence. "Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict are inevitable," read the statement, adding that police "should demilitarize their approach and engage in dialogue with protest organizers". 

"The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly," US Attorney General William Barr declared.

Antifa, short for anti-fascists, is an umbrella term for amorphous left-wing movements with no designated leadership that is opposed to far-right ideologies. Some anti-fascists confront neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups at demonstrations. Trump has blamed Antifa as "agitators" for taking over the protests in US cities and announced he would designate Antifa as a "terrorist organisation". This finger-pointing distracts from the deep underlying causes that triggered the protests.

The suppression which African-Americans have suffered for so long was bound one day to erupt. For too long have they been denied the vote, subjected to a host of indignities and restraints. For too long has colour discrimination been a part of the American way of life. For too long has a coloured life been cheap so that, in some states, the murder of an African-American counts for little as in the recent case of the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery by two vigilantes. The predictable result of this has been protests leading to rioting but who, or what, must bear the blame for them?

The very existence of the ghettoes, and the ways in which the African-Americans protest by riots or burning are taken by the racists as evidence to bolster their conviction that African-Americans are sub-human and therefore deserve nothing better than confined and contained in more ghettoes, and to be subject to more prejudice and fiercer suppression. Socialists call on all men and women of the working class, whether they are black, white, brown or yellow, whether they are employed or unemployed, old or young, to join us in a growing political movement to end this violent, poverty-stricken way of organising society. It is ours for the taking as soon as we make up our minds to act all together. Many have died in the long history of the African-Americans and many will die in the future. Is the result of it all only to be the exchange of one kind of oppression for another?

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