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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Rebellion spreads in the USA!

by Monica Moorehead

OVER the last two weeks a rebellion has spread like wildfire, starting in Minneapolis, with the burning down of a police precinct, then throughout the USA and then across the world in cities on almost every continent.

Millions of people worldwide have been out in the streets in solidarity with the demand “Black Lives Matter”. This global rebellion has put the repressive police force on trial for all forms of brutality, especially murder, against Black and other people of colour. But white supremacy has also been put on trial as the very foundation upon which police violence rests to safeguard profits for the rich.

This rebellion has helped to generalise the issue of racist oppression by bringing international attention to others who have lost their lives besides George Floyd – who was killed by the Minneapolis cops on 25th May.

Statues glorifying the Confederacy and other pro-slavery monuments have been removed or defaced by protesters. Officials, mainly in the US South, were forced to bring them down by the rebellion, whilst the people of Philadelphia forced the city to remove the repulsive statue and mural of fascistic former Mayor Rizzo.

In Bristol, England, a statue of a prominent 17th century slave trader was brought down, his neck stomped on and then thrown in the river. The statue of the British imperialist leader Winston Churchill was defaced with the word “racist” in London and the offensive statue honouring the colonial butcher of the Congolese people, King Leopold II of Belgium, was finally taken down in Antwerp.

The biggest protests last weekend were in Washington DC, where “Black Lives Matter Plaza” was established by Black Mayor Muriel Bowser, along with enormous “Black Lives Matter” lettering painted on the National Mall in front of the White House. Next to it activists painted “Defund the Police”.

The Black Lives Matter movement has been demanding the defunding of police budgets for years. Kailee Scales, managing director of Black Lives Matter Global Network, stated: “It is important to remember that modern-day policing has its roots in slave catching. These systems were created to hunt, maim, and kill Black people.

“As we have seen in the example of George and many others in this month alone, the police are a force of violence that profiles, harasses, and inflicts harm on Black communities without accountability – and with far too many resources.” The police reportedly killed over 1,000 people in the USA in 2019, 25 per cent of them Black.

The rebellion has helped to bring “defund the police” to the forefront and is heard the loudest from ground zero of the uprising – Minneapolis.

On 7th June, at a rally in Minneapolis, the majority of that City Council – 9 out of 12 members – jointly announced plans to defund and eventually disband the police department, receiving broad support. This development will fuel the fires of national protests, which everyone will be gauging.

In their joint statement, the council members said: “Decades of police reform efforts have proved that the Minneapolis Police Department cannot be reformed and will never be accountable for its actions. We are here today to begin the process of ending the Minneapolis Police Department and creating a new, transformative model for cultivating safety in Minneapolis.”

Minneapolis is one of the most segregated cities in America. This unprecedented rebellion has torn off the liberal facade this city has been hiding behind for years. The city is 60 per cent White, 20 per cent African American and 10 per cent Latino. The police department is nine per cent Black. The overall percentage of arrests over the last 10 years has been 60 per cent Black. The overwhelmingly White police department has been an occupying force in the Black community, not to protect and serve.

The City Council wants to use the police budget for other forms of public safety and social programmes for the communities, especially mental health programmes. Whether this plan is actually implemented or not remains to be seen.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that $150 million of that city’s police budget will be used for social programmes as part of its defunding process; and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to reduce the gargantuan $6 billion police budget by $1 billion, which is around eight per cent of the total city budget.

Where the national debate goes, whether to defund, disband or even ultimately to abolish the police, will depend a lot on the lasting power of the uprising and which organised voices have the most political influence. That such a debate is happening now is an important, positive development.

It indicates that the angry and fed-up masses, led by the Black Lives Matter movement, not only want to be heard. They understand that actions speak louder than words, and they want these actions, in the form of concessions, to take place sooner rather than later to help end racist violence and suffering.

Workers World (USA) edited