In this number of El Enemigo Común, we offer some commentaries on the rebellions in the world against the police murder of George Floyd and a list of gains made during the first 20 days of struggle edited and fact checked by @Paul Lazear.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an African American man described by his friends as a gentle giant, always smiling, always willing to help other people, an athlete, a basketball player, a rapper, and a member of his community of faith, is murdered by a Minneapolis cop who shows him no mercy.
The racist Derek Chauvin throws George Floyd to the ground and chokes him to death by kneeling on his neck with the help of three other cops. Chauvin already had 18 complaints in his file over the undue use of police violence with no punishment whatsoever.
Floyd cries out over and over: “I can’t breathe.” “My neck hurts.” “They’re going to kill me.” “¡Mama!”
“Every mother heard him,” says the mother of Amadou Diallo, a young Guinean immigrant shot 40 to death 40 times by the New York police in 1999. “We heard George Floyd. We hear him.”
And millions of people in the world are witnesses to this vile murder. We saw it with our own eyes on the Internet.
The next day, honorable rage bursts out in Minneapolis, where protesters demand punishment for the four killers. But there is no punishment. All that happens is that they are fired from their jobs, leaving them free to go and find work somewhere else, which infuriates the Black youth in the city, as well as everyone else with a sense of justice.
Flames light up the skies! The uprising against police terror spreads to other cities in the U.S. “I can’t breathe!” people shout in Memphis, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and Louisville, where the young Breonna Taylor was killed in her own house by a white cop.
Mayor Jacob Frey declares a state of emergency in Minneapolis and Governor Tim Walz calls out the National Guard. Rebellious youth take control of a police station and set fire to the building. The cops run like rats.
Rebellions break out in other parts of the country while Trump calls the protesters “thugs.” Charges are announced against Chauvin, but they are only third-degree and second-degree manslaughter. More fuel for the fire!
Trump hides in a White House bunker while thousands protest peacefully in the streets outside. The President of the United States is now known as “Bunker Boy” and even less flattering epithets.
The mobilizations grow in size and strength. Curfews are announced in several cities, but people don’t stay home. In Minneapolis the police use teargas and rubber bullets against demonstrators and against some honest journalists as well.
By June 1, the rebellions have spread to other parts of the world, including Paris, Athens, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, and Mexico, among other places.
To show how brave he is, Trump orders a fence to be put up around the White House. Then another. Then another. He threatens to send the Army into the streets to put down the protests. His threats are rejected by his own defense officials and by several governors and mayors in the country.
Non-identified agents shoot flash-bang grenades and pepper balls at demonstrators outside the White House so that the maximum leader can invade a nearby church for a photo ops session.
In Minneapolis, it is determined that the death of Floyd was a homicide, and the protests spread. Experts express concern about Coronavirus contagion, as thousands of people visit the site of Floyd’s murder.
What distinguishes these multitudes from those who shouted “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!” after the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014? Visually, many youth are now wearing face masks in an effort to be responsible in the face of possible COVID-19 contagion. The same sense of “Enough is Enough!” is even stronger, and for some, a feeling that the system doesn’t give them any remedy except to destroy the property of exploitative businesses and take the little that they can. This is called “looting” in the press. For others, community organization is the answer.
But which major news media highlights the looting of the Black communities by huge corporations for decades? The New York Times? Far from it. CNN? No way —until one of their own reporters was recently arrested by the police. What a coincidence that he was a Black reporter. Since that incident, CNN has been a tiny bit more objective in its coverage, but if we really want truthful reporting, we´ll do better to trust independent media, known as “medios libres” here in Mexico.
On June 3, Minneapolis authorities respond to the rebellions by raising the charges slightly against Chauvin and his accomplices. But protestors want them to spend the rest of their lives in prison.
On June 4, thousands of people come together in Minneapolis for the first of several commemorative services for George Floyd. Many honor Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well. On June 6, the rebellions continue. Tens of thousands fill the streets of Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Paris, London, and Sydney.
The world is in flames. “I can’t breathe!” “Silence is Violence!” shout the multitudes. On June 7, racist statues of the Confederacy begin to fall, one after another. In Philadelphia, the statue of the hated Frank Rizzo comes down.
On June 8 and 9, thousands attend the funeral of “Big Floyd” in Houston. And in the midst of the rebellions, the question arises: Where do the police come from? From the slave catchers in the period of formal slavery in the United States, says Mumia Abu-Jamal in his excellent pamphlet “To Protect and Serve Whom?” And from the Irish gangs in the North of the country.
The tasks of these armed groups were to “prevent all caballing among Negroes by dispersing them when drumming or playing, and to search all Negro houses for arms or other offensive weapons,” says Mumia.
It is evident that to put an end to the atrocity of police terror, white supremacy must go. The State is now using all possible measures to end this international uprising, as is the case day by day in the news media and as happened recently in Chicago with the recruitment of gangs as a paramilitary force.
Police terror happens in the beatings and murders of people in the streets, as well as in the mass incarceration of more than two million people in the most lethal prison system in the world, now exported to Mexico, Colombia and many other countries. Almost half the prisoners are Black, a continuation of the slavery that, in fact, is constitutional in prison according to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It is encouraging to see that the goal of ending mass incarceration has been a major issue in a number of the recent mobilizations.
And from here on, where are we headed? What are the challenges? What are the next steps? These will be determined by people in struggle in the communities of Minneapolis and other cities, but it is important to support some basic objectives.
Calls are going out to defund/abolish the police and to abolish organizations such as the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in Philadelphia and the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) in New York. These organized police groups do all they can to jail young people who only have a little marijuana in their hands; to promote violent repression; and to use their influence with judges, governors and mayors to keep revolutionary comrades in prison all their lives for struggling to make a total change in a repressive system. It makes a lot of sense to abolish the organized police and the U.S prison system.
Here is an extensive re-share of a list of some gains from the sustained mass supported protests. Some of these are more substantial than others and different folks will place importance and meaning on some things listed more than others. Not all of these victories are radical – some are reformist and some are cultural – but this highlights an intense political moment and shifting of culture and norms and shows us our collective potential for radical and transformative change outside of the electoral lie we are constantly fed.
So what has protesting accomplished?
Within 10 days of sustained protests:
– Minneapolis banned the use of choke holds.
– Charges were upgraded against Officer Chauvin, and his 3 accomplices arrested and charged.
– Minneapolis City Council voted to defund the police and invest in a community-led safety model.
– Dallas adopts a “duty to intervene” rule that requires officers to
stop other cops who are engaging in inappropriate use of force.
– New Jersey’s attorney general said the state will update its
use-of-force guidelines for the first time in two decades.
– In Maryland, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers announced a police reform work group.
– Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget by $150 million, reversing a decades long trend of expanding the police budget.
– LA Mayor Garcetti has pledged to re-invest the money from the LAPD budget in community improvement measures to reduce crime. Also, effective immediately: a moratorium on the gang database, and sharper discipline against abusive cops.
– Police brutality captured on cameras leads to near-immediate
suspensions and firings of officers in several cities (eg – Buffalo, Ft.
– In Atlanta, 2 officers were fired, and 4 other officers charged after
they pulled a young couple from their car at the protests and tasered them.
– A federal judge in Denver issued a restraining order barring Denver PD from using tear gas or projectiles against protesters.
– In Denver, an officer was fired after tweeting encouragement of
violence against protesters.
– Louisville mayor suspends “no-knock warrants” of the kind used when police killed Breonna Taylor.
– FBI opens investigation into the killing Breonna Taylor.
– Monuments celebrating Confederates are removed in cities in Virginia, Alabama, and other states, including a prominent statue of Robert E Lee in Virginia’s capitol.
– Philadelphia permanently removes the statue of ex-mayor Rizzo (who famously told residents to “vote white”).
– CA prosecutors launch campaign to stop DAs from accepting police union money.
– Tulsa Mayor agrees to not renew “Live PD” contract.
– Louisville police chief fired after police kill David McAtee at a BBQ joint on 6/1.
– Street in front of the White House is renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
– Military forces begin to withdraw from DC.
– Bipartisan effort in Congress begins to shut down a Pentagon program that transfers surplus military weaponry to police.
– US House proposes bill with broad law enforcement reforms including a ban on chokeholds, making it easier to sue police for misconduct, and a prohibition on certain no-knock warrants.
– Minnesota AFL-CIO calls for the resignation of Bob Kroll, the president of the Minnesota police union and a vocal white supremacist.
– Civil Rights investigation of Minneapolis PD launched.
– University of Minnesota, Minnesota public schools and Minnesota Parks and Recreation have canceled their contracts with the MPD. Minnesota Institute of Art, First Avenue, Walker Art Center ends use of MPD for events.
– San Francisco DA announces resolution to prevent law enforcement from hiring officers with history of misconduct.
-Richmond, VA Mayor Stoney announces RPD reform measures: establishing “Marcus” alert for people experiencing mental health crisis, independent Citizen Review Board, an ordinance to remove Confederate monuments, and implementation of racial equity study.
– Bus unions in multiple cities including Boston, Minneapolis and NYC agree to stop using public buses to transport police officers to protests or to transport arrested protesters.
– Seattle changes mind and withdraws request to end decree ordering federal oversight/consent of police department.
– Portland school superintendent ends use of armed police officers in schools.
– King County Labor Federation issues ultimatum to police unions, to admit to and address racism in Seattle PD, or be removed.
– Two Buffalo PD officers were arrested and charged for violently
shoving a 75-year old man. The union has suggested not paying their legal fees.
– Silence is increasingly not an option: leaders and churches nationwide have spoken out, NFL has admitted it was wrong on the kneeling protests, and Pope Francis condemned the death of George Floyd, saying, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
– 6/9: Phoenix PD bans choke holds.
Then, there’s all the other stuff that’s hard to measure:
– The really difficult public and private conversations that are
happening about race and privilege, many for the first time.
– The realizations some white people are coming to about racism and the role of policing in this country.
– The self-reflection.
– The internal battles exploding within organizations over issues that have been simmering or ignored for a long time. Some organizations will end as a result, others will be forever changed or replaced with something stronger and more just.
– America has never truly reckoned with the continuing aftermath of its original sin–as South Africa did with its Truth & Reconciliation Commission after Apartheid–but the conversations are starting.
– Similar to #TimesUp and #MeToo, there is a greater recognition and reduced tolerance for racism. Fewer are being silent when they see it.
– Protests against racial inequality sparked by the police killing of
George Floyd are taking place all over the world.
– Rallies and memorials have been held in cities across Europe, as well as in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.
-As Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the US, told the New Yorker: “People all over the world understand that their own fights for human rights, for equality and fairness, will become so much more difficult to win if we are going to lose America as the place where ‘I have a dream’ is a real and universal political program.”
-In France, protesters marched holding signs that said “I can’t
breathe” to signify both the words of Floyd, and the last words of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man who was subdued by police officers and gasped the sentence before he died outside Paris in 2016.
– In London, demonstrators tore down a controversial statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston and tossed it into the bay.
– Cities across Europe have come together after the death of George Floyd:
– In Amsterdam, an estimated 10,000 people filled the Dam square on Monday, holding signs and shouting popular chants like “Black lives matter,” and “No justice, no peace.”
– In Germany, tens of thousands of people gathered in multiple
locations throughout Berlin to demand justice for Floyd and fight
against police brutality.
– A mural dedicated to Floyd was also spray-painted on a stretch of
wall in Berlin that once divided the German capital during the Cold War.
– In Ireland, protesters held a peaceful demonstration outside of
Belfast City Hall, and others gathered outside of the US embassy in Dublin.
– In Italy, protesters gathered and marched with signs that said “Stop killing black people,” “Say his name,” and “We will not be silent.”
– In Spain, people gathered to march and hold up signs throughout
Barcelona and Madrid.
– In Athens, Greece, protesters took to the streets to collectively
hold up a sign that read “I can’t breathe.”
– In Brussels, protesters were seen sitting in a peaceful demonstration in front of an opera house in the center of the city.
– In Denmark, protesters were heard chanting “No justice, no peace!” throughout the streets of Copenhagen, while others gathered outside the U.S. embassy.
– In Canada, protesters were also grieving for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old black woman who died on Wednesday after falling from her balcony during a police investigation at her building.
– And in New Zealand, roughly 2,000 people marched to the US embassy in Auckland, chanting and carrying signs demanding justice.
– Memorials have been built for Floyd around the world, too. In Mexico City, portraits of him were hung outside the US embassy with roses, candles, and signs.
– In Poland, candles and flowers were laid out next to photos of Floyd outside the US consulate.
– And in Syria, two artists created a mural depicting Floyd in the
northwestern town of Binnish, “on a wall destroyed by military planes.”
All around the world, people are united in recognizing
“BLACK LIVES MATTER”
They’ve always mattered.
The changes we make now can create the society that reflects that truth. If we keep working, if we keep our foot on the gas.
There has been a global shift, an awakening. Much has changed in just a couple weeks. And there is still so much work to be done.
We are now balanced on the point of transformation and we determine where it goes from here.
Keep educating yourself.
Keep speaking out and shining the light on the racism you see, even within yourself.
This is difficult, messy work, and we as a country have been avoiding this reckoning for a long time.
For George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray Jr., Walter Scott, Oscar Grant III, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, for all the voices crying for justice over centuries, and for the soul of America itself:
Original author unknown, fact-checked and substantially updated and edited by @Paul Lazear.
-Ramsey Orta released from prison
-Officials refusing to obey Trump´s order to use Army against protesters
-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and his predecessor Jim Mattis defy trump on using military force against civilians
-Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, warned the president that the “rhetoric coming out of the White House is making it worse,” It’s illegal, he said
The president’s comments, she said, “send a clear signal that this administration is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division, which I fear will only lead to more violence and destruction.”
In Michigan, where police and protesters have skirmished in Grand Rapids despite many demonstrations remaining peaceful, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, called the president’s remarks “dangerous” and said they should be “gravely concerning to all Americans.”
The Republican governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, said he wasn’t surprised by the president’s “incendiary words.”
“…, we got bitterness, combativeness and self-interest. That’s not what we need in Boston, it’s not what we need right now in Massachusetts,” he said as his voice cracked with emotion, “and it’s definitely not what we need across this great country of ours either.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, called the president’s remarks the “rantings of an insecure man trying to look strong after building his entire political career on racism.”
On the subject of the deploying of federal troops, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told CNN that he would respond to such an offer by saying, “Thank you, but no thank you.”
Big City Mayors
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered a strong rebuke Tuesday to President Donald Trump’s threat to deploy the military to crack down on areas across the nation seeing protests, vandalism and unrest in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“That’s not gonna happen. I will see him in court,” Lightfoot said
Mayor Jenny Durkan defended Seattle’s decision to cede an “autonomous zone” to protesters. “Go back to your Bunker”
Gavin Newsom said California will reject President Donald Trump’s threats to send military into states to control protests … also voice opposition to the use of active-duty military forces in law enforcement roles to contain street protests.
June 9 Dockworkers work stoppage for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.