In the wake of the decision not to indict white police officers, Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, the people are once again left with egg on their faces in their hopes for justice; while at the same time lacking comprehensive black leadership, and suffering from continued disrespect and assaults at the hands of state/police violence. Jericho shares in the disappointment, but not the surprise. Such actions, or non-actions, on the part of the state are historic and systemic. Black people all too frequently still do not have any rights that the white man is bound to respect (Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857)).
There is a direct link between the murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, et al., ¹ the recent UN Convention Against Torture international treaty review in Geneva, Switzerland, ² and the call for the freedom of all political prisoners from the movements of the 60s and 70s.³ Ferguson and Staten Island epitomize the political, economic and social plight of Black people in the United States. It showcases white racism, poverty in communities of color, police violence, disempowerment, marginalization and lack of representation in all relevant spheres of community life.
During the week of November 11, 2014, non-government organizations and people from the United States travelled to Geneva, Switzerland to participate in the 53rd UN Session of the Committee against Torture. Here the U.S. government heard from its citizens and from the UN Commission to address whether the U.S. has been in compliance with its signed international treaty agreement against torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Needless to say, it has not. The U.S. has always been guilty of varying extremes of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of its citizens and people from other countries abound. The U.S. denied most; and either overlooked or gave minimum lip service to the rest of the cited violations.
In spite of the U.S. government’s non-compliance, presenting the condition of Black people in the international arena follows the legacies of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois, and hundreds of revolutionary organizations of the past. White racism and the practice thereof is a human rights violation; and the human rights of Black people are constantly being violated with every instance of police brutality, murder, profiling, denial of equal representation and resources, and disproportionate prison sentences. Although the journey is long and arduous, African Americans must be present and represented on the international stage.
Historically, from the slave plantation till now, there has always been struggle waged by Black people for freedom, self-determination and empowerment. This struggle for freedom, justice, dignity, human rights, and a better quality of life has always been met with resistance, violence, persecution, and death at the hands of the powers that be. The peoples’ sojourn has witnessed brutal responses from the state and federal government, and from those marking their progress and success in society off of the blood, sweat, and tears of the common people.
Slaves on the slave plantation in their flight/fight to be free were constantly victimized, oppressed and exploited under the violence of the salve-master’s whip, noose, hound dogs, patty-rollers, black codes, court rulings, 3/5ths of a person, Dred Scott, racial religious doctrines, segregation, racism, discrimination, water hoses, electric cattle prods, cross burnings, city-burnings, hooded creatures, shirt and tie creatures, gerrymandering, grandfather clauses, local government, congressmen and senators, presidents, federal and state laws, anti-unions, anti-workers, corporations, no-knock, stop ‘n frisk, the prison industrial complex, the FBI, Counter Intelligence Programs (COINTELPRO), communication management units, control units, special housing units, war on drugs, war on terrorism, Patriots Acts, Homeland Security, Rendition, entrapment, frame-ups and set-ups, mass media, propaganda, political incarcerations, Republican hearings on mosques and Muslims across the country, police brutality, and extra-judicial laws, policies and practices denying the human right to be free, safe and productive. The history is consistent.
Oppression breeds Resistance! Slaves risked their lives fighting back and running away. Abolitionists sacrificed their lives on the underground railroads. Men and women determined to be free led revolts. People taught, preached, marched, boycotted, picketed, and rioted.
In contemporary times these struggles comprised more than just the civil rights struggles. Just as relevant were the nationalists, socialists and Islamic movements of the 60s and 70s. Organizations like the Black Panther Party, Black Liberation Army, Nation of Islam, Republic of New Africa, Dar-ul-Islam, Weather Underground, Young Lords, American Indian Movement, and more strove gallantly to combat racial violence, police brutality and carve out and build a new self-determined life for Black, Brown and Red people, which in turn would uproot the oppression and decay of racism in America from the lives of all people.
People who fought against these conditions were targeted by police forces, and, in particular, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). Freedom fighters were sought, killed, and imprisoned. A number of these political prisoners remain till today; now serving over 40 years in prison, and oftentimes in solitary confinement for extraordinary long periods of time and denied adequate medical care and attention.
It is imperative that people and organizations fighting against police brutality, racism and corruption, and who are involved with advocating human rights, community development, and educating and organizing around social/political issues, and addressing various aspects of the prison industrial complex (viz. mass incarcerations, special housing units, solitary confinement, etc.) learn who these freedom fighters are, and understand their legacy and how things were done; what lessons should be learned; and above all, to render them full support. If those remaining captives who stood up and sacrificed, organized, and fought against racism, exploitation, and repression of people of color and poor communities across the U.S. are not supported, the door remains wide open for present and future soldiers/activists/revolutionaries/educators to be politically persecuted and incarcerated with impunity and with the expectation of no support from anyone. The State and status quo have the green light to continue repressing, exploiting and committing injustices unabated.
A movement – past or present – that does not support those who sacrificed their lives, families and physical freedom for the freedom of us all, is not a movement at all.
From Michael Brown and Eric Garner to the international arena, to supporting our incarcerated freedom fighters, to right back to the streets of Ferguson and Staten Island, it’s all interconnected. Connecting the historical dots, grasping tight to the legacy of the freedom struggle, and embracing our strength of a nation of people are prerequisites to building a new and free society.
Join the Wave!
Stand up and be free!
Free all Political Prisoners!