Ο ρατσισμός αποτελεί δομικό στοιχείο της καπιταλιστικής κοινωνίας και ειδικά του βορειοαμερικάνικου καπιταλισμού, είναι δυστυχώς άθικτος, όμως αυτή τη στιγμή αναπτύσσεται ένα πνεύμα αντίστασης και αγώνα από τους μαύρους και τους φτωχούς.
Αλληλεγγύη με το λαό της Βόρειας Αμερικής
Όλη μας η υποστήριξη στις αναρχικές οργανώσεις των ΗΠΑ
Αποδοκιμάζουμε την ποταπή δολοφονία του Τζορτζ Φλόιντ στα χέρια των αστυνομικών της Μινεάπολης, μια άλλη ρατσιστική πράξη στην καρδιά μιας παγκόσμιας ιμπεριαλιστικής δύναμης. Το γεγονός αυτό προστίθεται στον χωρίς τέλος αριθμό δολοφονιών μαύρων και μελών του αφρο-αμερικανικού πληθυσμού των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών, που διαιωνίζεται από την εποχή της δουλείας και δεν έχει ακόμα σταματήσει. Κατά τη διάρκεια της διακυβέρνησης Ομπάμα σημειώθηκαν δεκάδες δολοφονίες νέων μαύρων, πράγμα που θυμίζει παρόμοιες ρατσιστικές επιθέσεις κατά τη διάρκεια των δεκαετιών του '50 και του '60.
Η απάντηση τότε ήταν μια γρήγορη και οργανωμένη έκρηξη της εξέλιξης του μαύρου κινήματος σε όλη τη χώρα, παρόμοια με την τωρινή στιγμή κατά την οποία αναπτύσσεται ένα τεράστιο κίνημα διαμαρτυρίας, κάτι που δείχνει ότι οι άνθρωποι δεν ανέχονται πλέον τη βία και την ατιμωρησία της αστυνομίας. Το κτίριο ενός αστυνομικού τμήματος της Μινεάπολης κάηκε από διαδηλωτές, ενώ κάποια περιπολικά δέχτηκαν επιθέσεις.
Η άμεση δράση είναι ένα όπλο αντίστασης, μια μέθοδος δράσης που εξαπλώθηκε σε διάφορες πόλεις με συγκρούσεις μεταξύ διαδηλωτών και αστυνομικών, ενώ ο Ντόναλντ Τραμπ διέταξε τον στρατό να βγει στους δρόμους και επιβλήθηκε απαγόρευση της κυκλοφορίας σε 25 πόλεις.
Ο ρατσισμός, που αποτελεί δομικό στοιχείο της καπιταλιστικής κοινωνίας και ειδικά του βορειοαμερικάνικου καπιταλισμού, είναι δυστυχώς άθικτος, όμως αυτή τη στιγμή αναπτύσσεται ένα πνεύμα αντίστασης και αγώνα από τους μαύρους και τους φτωχούς.
Ο Τραμπ κατηγορεί, επίσης, τους αναρχικούς και αντιφασίστες αγωνιστές ότι είναι αυτοί που υποκινούν τις εξεγέρσεις. Αυτό το κίνημα είναι μια λαϊκή εξέγερση και σε αυτήν συμμετέχουν χιλιάδες άνθρωποι που δεν είναι αναρχικοί και δεν δηλώνουν ότι ανήκουν σε οποιοδήποτε πολιτικό ρεύμα. Αλλά, όπως πάντα, οι σφαίρες εξουσίας προσπαθούν να βρουν κάποιους να κατηγορήσουν, έτσι ώστε να μην θιχτούν τα δομικά ζητήματα και να μην καταδειχθεί ότι το ρατσιστικό, πατριαρχικό και καπιταλιστικό Κράτος που καταπιέζει και σκοτώνει τις λαϊκές τάξεις είναι ο πραγματικός υποκινητής των εξεγέρσεων.
Ο ΡΑΤΣΙΣΜΟΣ ΘΑ ΘΑΦΤΕΙ ΜΑΖΙ ΜΕ ΤΟΝ ΚΑΠΙΤΑΛΙΣΜΟ. ΟΛΗ ΜΑΣ Η ΥΠΟΣΤΗΡΙΞΗ ΚΑΙ Η ΑΛΛΗΛΕΓΓΥΗ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΜΕ ΤΟΝ ΒΟΡΕΙΟΑΜΕΡΙΚΑΝΙΚΟ ΛΑΟ ΠΟΥ ΑΓΩΝΙΖΕΤΑΙ ΕΝΑΝΤΙΑ ΣΤΗΝ ΑΣΤΥΝΟΜΙΚΗ ΚΑΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΚΗ ΒΙΑ
Μόνο η αλληλεγγύη και η αλληλοβοήθεια θα μας επιτρέψουν να αντισταθούμε.
ΟΛΗ ΜΑΣ Η ΥΠΟΣΤΗΡΙΞΗ ΣΤΙΣ ΚΟΙΝΟΤΗΤΕΣ ΤΩΝ ΜΑΥΡΩΝ ΠΟΥ ΑΝΤΙΣΤΕΚΟΝΤΑΙ!
ΟΛΗ ΜΑΣ Η ΥΠΟΣΤΗΡΙΞΗ ΣΤΟΥΣ ΒΟΡΕΙΟΑΜΕΡΙΚΑΝΟΥΣ ΑΝΑΡΧΙΚΟΥΣ ΑΔΕΛΦΟΥΣ ΜΑΣ!
ΠΡΟΣ ΤΟΝ ΣΟΣΙΑΛΙΣΜΟ ΚΑΙ ΤΗΝ ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑ
ΝΙΚΗ ΑΥΤΩΝ ΠΟΥ ΑΓΩΝΙΖΟΝΤΑΙ!
Coordenação Anarquista Brasileira – CAB (Βραζιλία)
☆ Federación Anarquista Uruguaya – FAU (Ουρουγουάη)
☆ Federación Anarquista Rosario – FAR (Αργεντινή)
☆ Organización Anarquista de Córdoba – OAC (Αργεντινή)
☆ Federación Anarquista Santiago – FAS (Χιλή)
☆ Vía Libre (Κολομβία)
☆ Union Communiste Libertaire Γαλλία)
☆ Embat - Organització Libertària de Catalunya (Καταλωνία)
☆ Alternativa Libertaria – AL/fdca (Ιταλία)
☆ Die Plattform - Anarchakommunistische Organisation (Γερμανία)
☆ Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet – DAF (Τουρκία)
☆ Organisation Socialiste Libertaire – OSL (Ελβετία)
☆ Libertaere Aktion (Ελβετία)
☆ Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group - MACG (Αυστραλία)
☆ Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement - AWSM (Aotearoa / Νέα Ζηλανδία)
☆ Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front - ZACF (Νότια Αφρική)
☆ Anarchist Unión of Afghanistan and Iran - AUAI
☆ Manifesto (Ελλάδα)
An anarchist view of the U.S. rebellion against police actions and racism.
A Raging Fire in the United States
The explosion of rage and sorrow across the cities and towns of the United States is about more than the police murder of George Floyd. It is about the series of Black and Brown people murdered by cops recently and going back to the days of slavery. It is about men and women assaulted by armed police or vigilantes as they sat in their homes, walked or jogged on the street, drove their cars, birdwatched, stood in their building’s vestibule, shopped, or hung around at a street corner. It is both about completely innocent and respectable citizens or people who had committed very minor "crimes" (George Floyd was accused of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit bill) for which they got the death penalty. It is about millions of young men in prison for often trivial offenses such as the ownership of marijuana.
But it was about more than the usual mistreatment by the police, including murder. It was about the whole oppression of African-American people and other people of color. It is now decades after the end of Jim Crow, of racial segregation, which had been enforced by the police and by the extra-legal terror of the Klan. Yet there is an attack on Black people’s right to vote (voter suppression) all over again.
The terrible pandemic has fallen heavily on Black people, causing many more infections and deaths than in the general (white) population—due to greater poverty and rates of ill-health, plus less available health care. This is true of other people of color. Native Americans have suffered badly; the Navajo Nation has been especially hard hit.
An economic recession (or depression) has been triggered by the pandemic and the methods used to counter it, such as the shutdown of much of the economy. The unemployment rate is higher than in the Great Depression of the 1930s. African-Americans, Latinos, and the Indigenous have been the worst affected by these conditions. “Last hired and first fired,” they have been laid off, losing their incomes and their employer-paid-for insurance. That is, except for the “essential workers” who are disproportionately “minority” and therefore most exposed to the coronavirus.
Adding insult to injury, the U.S. has a president who ran on racist and nativist appeals to the bigotry of sections of the white population. This president has proven to be utterly incompetent and inept in dealing with any of the nation’s crises, but he has continued to direct blame onto Black and Brown people.
The murder of George Floyd by police, out in the open, publicly recorded, with witnesses calling on the police to stop, was a lighted match. The underlying rage of so many burst into flame. No one could justify the actions of the cops, not the establishment politicians, the police unions, nor the right-wing media. Not even President Trump. Millions of ordinary white working class and middle class people were on the side of the Black population. Demonstrations began immediately and (at the time of writing) have not stopped. They have taken place in at least 140 cities and, overall, nearly 500 localities. The government almost immediately fired all four cops and charged one with murder; it has since expanded the charges to the other three. This is unlike the usual months-long foot-dragging.
The demonstrations have mostly been “peaceful” in the sense of law-abiding, if angry. Many white people have participated. Even some police have shown some support. But there has also been a fringe of violence and lawbreaking, including smashing windows of buildings, looting stores, fighting police, burning police cars, and setting fires to buildings (one police station was burned down). In big cities, there are reports of neighborhood watches being locally organized to prevent “outsiders” from setting off violence and destruction.
There is controversy about who is doing these violent actions (“violent” but almost entirely against things, not people). One claim is that it is done by (or led by) left-wing “antifa” activists and/or anarchists. There is also evidence that right-wing militants, including white supremacists, are mixing in, hoping to set off a “race war” or “boogaloo.” Whether there are many of these fascists is not known. To some extent blaming white “extremists of the left and right” serves to deny the real anger of Black people which could lead to such actions. (In any case, the looting of poor people of Target is nothing compared to the looting of billions of dollars in government aid supposedly for the unemployed or small businesses but instead grabbed by big businesses)
The authorities have varied in their reactions. The Democrats have tried to emphasize their sympathy with the protesters, while calling for police-enforced nonviolence and legality. They try to get the people to “join” with the police, and direct their anger to voting for Democrats. The right, after giving a quick nod to the righteousness of the protests, focused on the violence and destruction. They denounce the Democrats as being too “weak” toward the “rioters.”
President Trump, as usual, has posed as a tough guy to cover up his cowardliness. During demonstrations at the White House, he huddled in a basement bunker. He has called for the use of the military against demonstrators, announcing the need for “dominance,” and quoted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Meanwhile he posed for a photo-op in front of a well-known Washington Episcopal church which had some fire damage; to do this he had the military clear away a crowd of peaceful protesters with tear gas. (The Episcopalian hierarchy was displeased with him.) Hundreds of military personnel have stated that they will not serve to attack their fellow citizens who are peacefully asserting their rights.
While the police have posed as being cooperative in some places, in many places they have demonstrated what the protest is all about. They have assaulted marchers, shot rubber bullets at them, thrown them to the ground, beaten them with nightsticks, driven cars into crowds, cursed and threatened them, and probably set them up to act violent.
Meanwhile the events are being used to whip up hostility toward anarchists. The extent of right-wing violent intervention has been played down or ignored. There has long been an image of anarchists as bomb throwers, assassins, and terrorists. It is true, that more than a century ago, a few anarchists did kill a number of government leaders, businesspeople, and ordinary people who were around them. More recently the “Unabomber” (who regarded himself as an anarchist) sent mail bombs to people he did not like. Otherwise this has been uncommon for a long time.
Anarchists have a wide range of views (as do liberals, conservatives, and Marxists). A large number are absolute pacifists. U.S. anarchists often get involved in demonstrations to serve as medics and legal aides. While it is counterproductive to urge disorganized violence, anarchists are correct to oppose trust in Democratic politicians and sweet-talking police officers.
Liberals make all sorts of proposals for improving the police. They have been doing so for decades. While some reforms may be useful, they have never made a big difference and never will. This
society cannot exist without police. The conflicts between rich and poor, white and Black, men and women, different sections of the corporate rich, different sections of the working class, etc., make for a constantly clashing and conflictual society, in a continual state of almost civil war. It needs a state, with bodies of armed people (military and police), to hold it together. The charge that the removal of the state and its police would create chaos is exactly backwards. It is the chaos of capitalist society which requires the state. In a cooperative and free society of anarchist-socialism, there would be no need for the police.
Rather than focusing on “improving relations with the police,” it would be better if at least some of the young militants were to link up the issue of police brutality with other issues of oppression. This includes ideas of restarting the economy under the control of workers and working class communities of all races and nationalities. It includes taking away the wealth of the one percent and distributing it fairly among the population in useful ways. It means dealing with the plague in a safe and healthy fashion.
By themselves, these demonstrations and rebellions have an tremendous impact on society. But for really strong leverage, it would be necessary to mobilize people as workers, using their potential power at the workplace. If the workers stop working, society grinds to a halt. And if they start it up again, they could do so in a new and better way. Even now, bus drivers in New York and elsewhere have refused to take police and arrestees in buses from the demonstrations—with the support of their national union. Workers should demand support for the demonstrations from the unions. The slogan of a general strike should be raised, as a few radicals have already done.
Meanwhile neighborhood and local groupings, however informal, should organize themselves and create citywide committees. Such committees could coordinate actions, decide on programs, and raise demands on the government.
This society is in deep crisis. Its present government might qualify as a “failed state,” it is so incompetent. The corona health crisis has been handled completely ineptly. But whenever it is brought “under control,” the economic crisis will still be here for a long time. Meanwhile the climate catastrophe and ecological cataclysm are constantly worsening, giving us only decades to bring them “under control.” Racial oppression is an integral part of an overall oppressive and exploitative capitalist system. Capitalism has got to go.
These protests are a rebellion. They are evidence that the U.S. population is not forever passive and demoralized. That there is great anger and a thirst for justice and freedom. This will not lead to an immediate revolution. But it raises the eventual possibility.
El asesinato de Floyd no es un hecho fortuito. El año pasado, 1099 personas fueron asesinadas por la policía en Estados Unidos, de los cuales muchísimos eran negros. 99% de estos asesinatos están en la más escandalosa impunidad. Una tasa alarmante que compite con las cifras de otras “lumbreras” de los derechos humanos como Colombia. Esto demuestra que la violencia policial, lejos de ser una anomalía, es aupada por el establecimiento de los EEUU. Por todo el establecimiento, tanto por republicanos como por demócratas. [English]
George Floyd: el asesinato que rebasó el vaso en “la tierra de la libertad”
Por fin se agotó la paciencia de las masas en la autoproclamada “tierra de la libertad”. El brutal asesinato de George Floyd, quien fue torturado hasta morir de asfixia durante 10 minutos a plena luz del día, se convirtió en la chispa que incendió la pradera. La vida de Floyd era más barata para la policía que el miserable billete falso de U$20 que lo acusaron de tener. En todo el país hay protestas que se han enfrentado a una impresionante violencia estatal, y que han desafiado las amenazas del presidente Donald Trump de militarizar, de disparar, de enviar perros rabiosos. Imaginémonos por un segundo que fuera Maduro en Venezuela o Rouhani en Irán quienes estuvieran utilizando este lenguaje violento y quienes estuvieran reprimiendo así a su pueblo. Con toda seguridad, en estos momentos, se estarían imponiendo sanciones económicas, se estaría convocando a reuniones extraordinarias del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU, se estaría hablando de intervención militar, o incluso de bombardeos “inteligentes” en contra de estaciones policiales para proteger a los “pobres ciudadanos” de los carniceros gubernamentales. Tal vez el G-7 ya habría designado a dedo a un presidente pelele y espurio al estilo de Guaidó como autoridad legítima.
La hipócrita de Michelle Bachelet, desde su oficina de alta comisionada de la ONU para los Derechos Humanos, deplora el asesinato de Floyd pero no dice nada de la violencia del Estado en contra de los manifestantes. Qué diferencia con la vehemencia con la que ataca lanza en ristre a Venezuela. Mientras tanto, Almagro en la OEA –el mismo que monta una bulla inmamable cada vez que a Maduro se le arranca un pedo- ha mantenido un silencio sepulcral. ¿No resulta obvio que en este flamante orden mundial hay una ley para el cartel de los países ricos y otra muy diferente para los demás?
El asesinato de Floyd no es un hecho fortuito. El año pasado, 1099 personas fueron asesinadas por la policía en Estados Unidos, de los cuales muchísimos eran negros. 99% de estos asesinatos están en la más escandalosa impunidad . Una tasa alarmante que compite con las cifras de otras “lumbreras” de los derechos humanos como Colombia. Esto demuestra que la violencia policial, lejos de ser una anomalía, es aupada por el establecimiento de los EEUU. Por todo el establecimiento, tanto por republicanos como por demócratas.
Como se vienen elecciones, los oportunistas del Partido Demócrata ya están oliendo votos en el humo de las barricadas. Pero, ¿quién entre los demócratas tiene autoridad moral para protestar por el racismo o la violencia? ¿Obama? ¿el presidente que más personas ha deportado en la historia de los EEUU? ¿Quién presidió la represión racial en Ferguson? ¿el hombre que derramo lágrimas de cocodrilo con el asesinato de Eric Garner en el 2014, en circunstancias calcadas al asesinato de Floyd, sin tomar ninguna acción al respecto? ¿Los Clinton? ¿La pareja de “demócratas” que empezaron la construcción del muro con México (aunque ahora parece que no se acuerdan de eso), que hambrearon a Haití e Iraq, y bombardearon a este último, pavimentando así el camino a la guerra de Bush? ¿Los que financiaron, armaron y apoyaron a esas bellezas fundamentalistas de Al-Qaeda mientras masacraban a diestra y siniestra en Siria? ¿Sanders? ¿El que se llena la boca hablando de socialismo y que no es capaz de siquiera enfrentarse a los líderes de su partido? Es hora de llamar a esta pandilla de “demócratas” como lo que son, un fraude. Son parte del problema, no de la solución. Todo lo que les importa son las próximas elecciones. Les importa un bledo el racismo estructural y la violencia policial, como lo han demostrado una y otra vez cuando han llegado al poder.
La violencia racial y de clase en los EEUU es un problema estructural que requiere de transformaciones radicales en las instituciones. Cualquier cambio cosmético no sirve para nada. El asesinato de Floyd está empezando a corroer la farsa de la “tierra de la libertad”, de la “tolerancia”, construida por inmigrantes supuestamente libres, amorosos e igualitarios. Este mito es una mentira burda, una de las mentiras favoritas de los “demócratas” en las protestas anti-Trump del 2016. El inmundo hedor del racismo estructural, que es dos siglos más viejo que Trump, está saliendo a flote, dejando al descubierto la fetidez de un país construido sobre el genocidio de millones de indígenas y esclavos. Un país construido sobre las deportaciones masivas de “radicales” e “izquierdistas” en la década del 1920. Un país que ha linchado a miles de negros, chinos y sindicalistas. Un país en donde un descerebrado supremacista blanco como John Wayne es reverenciado como un ídolo, mientras que los artistas de verdad eran censurados y perseguidos en medio de la fiebre macartista. Un país cuyo sistema judicial, que ejecuta a tantas personas como las más eficientes tiranías del planeta, tiene en su saldo de muerte los linchamientos judiciales de los mártires de Chicago, de Sacco y Vanzetti, así como de los Rosenbergs, entre tantos otros, tras parodias judiciales.
El pueblo tiene derecho a estar enojado. Muy enojado. No se trata sólo de Floyd. Se trata de más de 200 años de opresión y salvajadas. Aquellos que exigen que la protesta sea “civilista” y “pacífica”, y por lo mismo inocua, aquellos que condenan el “vandalismo” en términos mucho más fuertes que con los que nunca han condenado al racismo, no son sino hipócritas defensores del status quo
. Los verdaderos vándalos son aquellos que piensan que tener un uniforme policial les da derecho de mutilar, torturar, arrancar ojos y asesinar según sea su capricho. No podemos permitir que se desnaturalice lo que realmente está ocurriendo y la razón por la que millones han salido a tomarse las calles. Como dijo Albert Camus, lo que realmente debemos condenar no son tanto los actos de violencia de los oprimidos, como la violencia que engendran las instituciones . Es hora de cuestionar y trasformar esas instituciones, las estructuras de la violencia que están arraigadas en el Estado y en este modelo económico que, en estos precisos instantes, condena a millones a la muerte por inanición y desempleo.
El problema es el sistema, no tal o cual policía, ni tal o cual presidente, ni tal o cual partido político. Se requiere de transformaciones profundas de las instituciones políticas que son producto de este legado de brutalidad, segregación, exclusión, explotación, guerra, militarismo, invasiones e imperialismo. Trump ha denunciado la presencia de “anarquistas profesionales” entre los manifestantes. Bien por ellos. El mundo civilizado los debería aplaudir de pie. Esperemos que su presencia ayude a las masas que hoy se rebelan a imaginar un país diferente, construido desde abajo, en paz con el resto del mundo, pero en guerra permanente contra sus injusticias domésticas. Un país que se libere de las lacras del racismo, del sexismo, de la explotación de la clase trabajadora, de la tentación imperial. Que sea una alternativa real a un mundo hoy en peligro inminente de colapsar en gran medida por las acciones de los EEUU en cuanto superpotencia. Es el pueblo en las calles quienes tienen las respuestas, mientras que las élites gobernantes, sean republicanas o demócratas, ni siquiera saben las preguntas que hay que hacerse.
José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
3 Junio, 2020
 Citado en John Foley, “Albert Camus: From the Absurd to Revolt” (London, Rouledge, 2008, p.49)
The murder of Floyd is not a once-off incident. Last year 1,099 people were killed by the US police, of which a sizeable proportion are black. 99% of these murders remain in absolute impunity –an alarming impunity rate only rivalled by the likes of Colombia in the continent, which goes to demonstrate how police violence, far from an anomaly, is condoned by the US establishment. By all of it, whether Republican or Democrat. [Castellano]
George Floyd: one death too many in the “land of the free”
At last people had enough in the self-proclaimed ‘land of the free’. The brutal murder of George Floyd, who was tortured to death by asphyxiation for 10 minutes in broad daylight, turned to be the spark that started the prairie fire. Floyd’s life was certainly cheaper in the eyes of the police than a fake, lousy U$20, he was accused of possessing. Protests have erupted all over the country, facing unspeakable government violence and threats from the president Donald Trump, who has threatened with weapons, shootings and vicious dogs. Let us think for a second what would happen if, let’s say, Maduro in Venezuela or Rouhani in Iran resorted to this blatantly threatening language and to these repressive actions –surely by now, there would be economic sanctions in place, extraordinary meetings in the UN Security Council, talk of military intervention, or “smart” bombardments of police stations to protect “poor citizens” from the butchers in the institutions. Maybe even a bogus interim president à la Guaidó
would have already been recognised by the G-7.
Michelle Bachelet, the hypocrite in chief (ie., Human Rights chief) at the UN, deplores the killing of Floyd but has failed to speak in equally strong terms about State violence against protestors. Her words pale in comparison to her vehemence at Venezuela; while Almagro of the OAS –who kicks up a fuss even if Maduro farts- has remained conspicuously silent. Isn’t it obvious that in the World Order there is one rule for the rich club and quite another for the rest of the world?
The murder of Floyd is not a once-off incident. Last year 1,099 people were killed by the US police, of which a sizeable proportion are black. 99% of these murders remain in absolute impunity –an alarming impunity rate only rivalled by the likes of Colombia in the continent, which goes to demonstrate how police violence, far from an anomaly, is condoned by the US establishment. By all of it, whether Republican or Democrat.
As elections approach, the Democrats are smelling votes in the fumes of the riots. But who among the Democrats have any moral authority to complain about racism or violence? Obama, the top one president when it comes to deportations and the man who presided racial repression at Ferguson? The man who shed crocodile tears at the murder of Eric Garner in 2014, in circumstances almost identical to those of Floyd’s, but failed to take any real action? The Clintons, who started building the wall with Mexico, starved and bombed Iraq, and handsomely armed, supported and financed their Al-Qaeda darling jihadists who butchered willy-nilly, left and right, the people of Syria? Sanders, whom, for all his “socialist” talk is unable to confront even the establishment in his own party? It is time to call the Democrat gang for what they are: a fraud. They are part of the problem, not the solution, and all they care about is the next elections. They don’t give a flying toss about structural racism and police violence as they have shown time and again while in power.
Class and racial violence in the US is a structural problem, which requires a radical transformation of the institutions. Nothing short of this can be of any use. The murder of Floyd is tearing apart the farcical myth of the ‘land of the free’, of the land ‘of tolerance’ built supposedly by free, loving and equal migrants –a favourite fabrication of the Democrats during the anti-Trump protests of 2016. The ugly face of structural racism (which precedes Trump by over two centuries) is being revealed, exposing the stench of a country built over the genocide of millions of Natives and chattel slavery. A country built over the mass deportations of those who thought differently during the Red Scare of the 1920. A country which lynched in the thousands blacks and trade unionists. A country where a white supremacist hooligan such as John Wayne is revered as a hero, while proper artists were banned and censored during McCarthyism. A country whose so-called justice system, which executes on a routine basis as many people as any other tyranny, has in its putrid closet the skeletons of the Haymarket affair, of Sacco and Vanzetti, and of the Rosenbergs, among so many others, all murdered in mickey mouse trials that were nothing but legal lynching.
The people are right to be angry. Big time. This is not only about Floyd. It is about over two hundred years of oppression and savagery. Those who demand that protest remains “civic” and harmless, deploring “vandalism” in far more strident terms than they deplore racism, are nothing but hypocritical defenders of the status quo
. The real vandals are those who think that carrying a blue uniform gives them a right to maim, torture and kill at will. The focus of what is happening and why people are out there on the streets should not be lost: as Albert Camus remarked, we should despise less acts of violence by the oppressed than the institutions of violence . The time has come to question and change the institutions, the structures of violence, deeply rooted in the State and an economic model which, right now, is condemning millions to death by unemployment induced starvation.
The system is the problem, not this or that police officer, not this or that president, not this or that party. It requires deep transformation of the political institutions which are the product of this legacy of brutality, segregation, exclusion, war, militarism, invasion and imperialism. Trump denounced the presence of “professional anarchists” among the protestors. Fair play to them. They deserve a standing ovation. Hopefully they help the masses in revolt to imagine a different country, built from the bottom up, in peace with the rest of the world and permanently at war with domestic injustice. A country free of racism, sexism, and the exploitation of the working class. A real alternative at a time in which the world is critically endangered to a great degree because of the actions of the US as a world power. The people on the streets today have the answers, while the Republican and Democrat ruling elites don’t even know the questions.
José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
3rd June, 2020
 Quoted in John Foley, “Albert Camus: From the Absurd to Revolt” (London, Rouledge, 2008, p.49)
There is no need to wonder why George Floyd (age 46) was murdered in broad daylight in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, 2020. The script of his death is written deep in the ugly drama of US history.I Can’t Breathe 2020
Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee sat on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. After that time, George Floyd was dead. From the moment Chauvin put his body on an unarmed man, George Floyd said – eleven times – I can’t breathe.
Scientists who study human respiration say that untrained people can hold their breath from between thirty seconds and two minutes; anything more than that results in a process that leads eventually to death.
I Can’t Breathe 2014
Officer Daniel Pantaleo slammed Eric Garner onto the New York City sidewalk just minutes after Garner had helped resolve a dispute on the street. Pantaleo pushed Garner’s face onto the pavement, and Garner said – eleven times – I can’t breathe.
Garner lost consciousness, did not receive medical care in the ambulance, and was pronounced dead soon after arriving at the hospital. He died, effectively, of strangulation.
Both Floyd and Garner were African American; both were men who struggled to make a living in a harsh economic environment.
The UN Human Rights head Michelle Bachelet wrote a powerful statement in response to the death of George Floyd: “This is the latest in a long line of killings of unarmed African Americans by US police officers and members of the public. I am dismayed to have to add George Floyd’s name to that of Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and many other unarmed African Americans who have died over the years at the hands of the police – as well as people such as Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin who were killed by armed members of the public.”
Each year in the United States, more than a thousand people are killed by the police; African Americans are three times more likely to be killed by the police than whites, and African Americans who are killed by police are more likely to be unarmed than whites. Most of these killings are not associated with serious crime. Astoundingly, 99 per cent of the officers who kill a civilian are not charged with a crime.
“The Depression,” the poet Langston Hughes wrote of the 1930s, “brought everybody down a peg or two.” It was different for African Americans, for they “had but few pegs to fall.”
Garner was accused of selling loose cigarettes on the street, violating excise tax laws to make a few dollars; Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Even if these accusations could have been proved, neither were earth-shattering crimes; if they had gone to court, neither would have earned these men death sentences. They were killed after being accused of minor infringements.
When Hughes wrote those words, Lino Rivera, a 16-year-old Afro-Puerto Rican boy, had been arrested for shoplifting a 10-cent penknife. A crowd gathered when the police went to arrest him, a rumor spread that he had been killed, and Harlem rose up in anger. A government report later showed that the protests were “spontaneous” and that the causes of the unrest were “the injustices of discrimination in employment, the aggressions of the police, and racial segregation.” This report could have been written last week. It suggests a permanent Depression.
System Cannot Be Reformed
Historically, police aggression has come before any unrest. In 1967, unrest in Detroit spurred the US government to study the causes, which they assumed would be communist instigators and an inflammatory press. The riots, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commission) said, “were not caused by, nor were they the consequences of, any organized plan or ‘conspiracy.’”
Instead, the Kerner Commission said that the cause of the unrest was structural racism. “What white Americans have never fully understood,” the report noted, “is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” By “ghetto” the report’s authors meant the atrocious class inequalities in the United States that had – because of the history of enslavement – been marked by race.
Rather than address the deep inequalities in society, the American government chose to heavily arm police officers and send them to discipline populations in distress with their dangerous weapons. The commission proposed instead “a policy which combines ghetto enrichment with programs designed to encourage integration… into the society outside the ghetto.”
Nothing came of that report, as nothing has come of any of the reports that stretch backward 150 years. Rather than genuinely invest in the well-being of people, the American government – whether governed by Republicans or Democrats – cut back on social programs and cut back on welfare spending; it allowed firms to erode wages and it allowed them to diminish working conditions. What was terrible in 1968 only became worse for the working-class Black population.
The financial crisis of 2008 stole from African American households’ savings that had been accumulated through generations of work. By 2013, Pew Research found that the net worth of white households was 13 times greater than African American households; this was the largest such gap since 1989, and it is a gap that has only widened. Now, with the global pandemic striking the United States particularly hard, data shows that the disease has struck African Americans and other people of color the most. Some of this is because it is African Americans and other people of color who often have the most dangerous frontline jobs.
If Eric Garner and George Floyd earned a minimum wage of $25 for decent work, would they need to be in a position where a belligerent police officer would accuse them of selling loose cigarettes or of passing a counterfeit bill?
They Are Normal
Society in the United States has been broken by the mechanisms of high rates of economic inequality, high rates of poverty, impossible entry into robust educational systems, and remarkable warlike conditions put in place to manage populations no longer seen as the citizenry but as criminals.
Such processes corrode a civilization. The names of Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice… and now George Floyd are only the names of the present moment, written in thick ink on cardboard signs across the United States at the many, many protests that continue to take place. The taste of desperation lingers in these protests, along with the anger at the system, and the outrage seems to have no outlet.
Donald Trump is an exaggeration of the normal course of history in the United States. He takes the ugliness to the utmost limit, bringing in the army, sniffing around for the legal possibility of the mass detention of demonstrators. His is a politics of violence. It does not last long. It is hard to beat the urge for justice out of an entire people.
As you read this, somewhere in the United States, another person will be killed – another poor person whom the police deem to be a threat. Tomorrow another will be killed; and then another. These deaths are normal for the system. Outrage against this system is a logical, and moral, response.
George Floyd: one death too many in the “land of the free”