Friday, 29 May 2020

George Floyd's Sickening Murder by US cops Sparks Mass Protests

Black American George Floyd was pinned to the ground by a white police officer who knelt on his neck in full view of the public. The police officer, Dereck Chauvin, knew a camera was filming as his victim screamed he couldn't breathe for minutes on end, meaning the police officer thought his behaviour was acceptable. He thought the law would protect him. He thought causing a restrained man (who was clearly posing no threat) to die from his injuries was justifiable. The only reasonable conclusion is that Chauvin believed he was justified because his victim was black and his role was to play the oppressor. Horrifying.

Now I might live on the other side of the Atlantic, but I am trained in restraining techniques and licensed by the Security Industry Authority. If I restrained a person in such a manner, even if my actions did not result in death, my SIA license would be immediately suspended and I would be up in court for excessive use of force.

If my actions did result in death, this could lead to manslaughter or murder charges. Yet police officers, particularly in the US so rarely face prosecution for excessive force, let alone conviction, and if the victim turns out to be black, as is usually the case, it seems the establishment is not only willing to turn a blind eye, but quite happy for the situation to continue. It seems fear and violence is a tool of the establishment. But of course it is.

If this kind of behaviour, this murder, was simply the action of rogue cops, we would in every circumstance see suspensions and prosecutions leading to jail sentences. Instead we see officials rushing to find the most absurd of defences for the murderers and we see the media dig into the past of the victims. If you, at any point in your life, have been guilty of a minor indiscretion, and God knows we all have, then in their eyes you had it coming. But only if you are black of course.

Just think about that for a moment. 

Imagine myself, as a teenager. I got suspended from school for swearing at the IT technician and I also got into a few fights. If I was a black American murdered by cops, they would dig that up and say I had a track record of bad behaviour, that I was a troublemaker, rather than some kid who made a few mistakes. They would say I deserved to be the victim of excessive force, deserved to be dead because my past behaviour was imperfect. This literally happens.

Like I said above everyone of any race has done something, has some stain on their character, but if you're a black man in America the police have (in their minds) justification to murder you any time they feel like. Doesn't matter if you've committed a crime or if you're perfectly innocent and complying with instructions. Doesn't matter if there are eye witnesses with cameras because the establishment is on the murderer's side. 

Imagine living under such a dark cloud in a hostile state where establishment forces see you as an enemy and potential victim. Imagine knowing you could draw the short straw, even if you are a model citizen, but, of course, even if you are not a model citizen, you deserve better than summary execution.

The establishment wants to keep people afraid, keep people impoverished, keep society divided. This is not just an American thing, it happens in Britain too, but in ultra-capitalist America it has gone to the ultimate extreme. I just wish more people would understand race is only one dividing line they create - there are others such as sexual orientation, religion, employment status. It's any method to make it about us and them, turning natural allies into enemies and blinding us to the real enemy. It's ultimately about consolidating power, keeping the elite at the top and keeping everyone else punching down and turning on each other.

When I see white working class Americans waving the Confederate flag and defending rogue cops, I just want to scream "you're playing their game!" 

The white working class (which I myself am part of)  has far more in common with the black community and other minorities, with immigrants and refugees, with every marginalised group than they do with the elite. If you as a white person have ever felt marginalised (and I myself have, being formerly homeless), you need to understand the cause of this is not other marginalised people. I cannot believe I have to type this out because it seems so obvious. 

You too are a victim of the people who are oppressing and killing black communities. You should be on the same side as black communities, but you've been duped into siding with your own oppressors and kicking down on the people half a step beneath you on the ladder. Meanwhile the people above you are cutting out the rungs so you can never stand alongside them. Yours is a position of not only subservience, but complicity in the horrors committed by the state.

And now, no wonder we are seeing mass protests in the US. Rioting and looting committed by violent thugs, the media says, as though destruction of property is equivalent to (or actually worse than) state-sponsored murder. No one, certainly not the protesters wanted to see it come to this, but when society ignores cries for help since the founding of your country - the so-called land of the free which was built on stolen land by slaves - and when you ignore those cries even when mobile phone cameras prove the reality faced by black Americans, you are saying the status quo is something you are happy to preserve. When those police officers don't face prosecution, you are saying you are content with their freedom to murder with impunity. When you gaslight black communities, you are telling the marginalised to remain silent and afraid.

And this situation right now is not a result of corruption, it's a result of capitalism. It's a direct consequence of the measures necessary - the fear, poverty and brutalisation - to keep structures of power in place. And when victims finally rise up, the establishment is left with no choice but to further vilify, to call protesters rioters, looters, and violent thugs as pretext for crushing rebellion. 

People - victims of oppression - will be imprisoned or shot, protests will be quelled, and the middle class will return to their cosy bubble. Maybe they will elect white supremacist Joe Biden next and tell themselves they did a good thing because he won't kick black people quite as hard as the other white supremacist.

Or maybe, just maybe we have reached breaking point, late stage capitalism, the point where the elite have become too greedy, the police too cruel for the comfortable to turn a blind eye.

As the husband of a black woman, the father of black kids, a member of the white working class who has faced marginalisation my whole life, but more importantly as a human being, I hope we can reach that point where the middle class stand with the working class and especially with black communities and immigrant communities and all marginalised minority groups and put a stop to this madness - because ultimately this is about more, so much more than black on white. And I say that in no way to diminish the black experience but to stand in solidarity with black communities and end the unfairness and brutality. 

This is not about black on white. It's about the 99% versus the 1% and so many white people need to understand this.

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