We denounce unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms the continuous murderous actions of police against Black, as well Indigenous, Latinx and other communities of color. We understand the racist pathological hatred behind these acts to be symptoms of a broader historical development of human hierarchies to maintain a white supremacist capitalist system.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd an unarmed Black man was killed by police officers without cause. Four Minneapolis police officers responded to a call from a local deli that a man had allegedly purchased a pack of cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Video footage shows that the officers proceeded to arrest Floyd through a series of actions which led to three police officers pinning Floyd, face down, against the pavement. Officer Derek Chauvin pinned him down with his knee on Floyd’s neck and continued doing so for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, even after Floyd repeatedly (at least 16 times) told them, “I can’t breathe” and called out to his “Mama” in a man’s last wish for protection.
This has become now a familiar scene in US media. A story that makes evident that in the United States, police officers can kill a Black person, even when they face no threat, and seemingly without any consciousness of a Black person’s humanity. Only few cases gain national attention and this because of ready access to video and social media. The murderous treatment of Black communities in the United States is part of a broader history of controlling and confining Black bodies – slavery, lynchings, mass incarceration, economic precarity, and lack of educational opportunity. Similar forms of dehumanization afflict all communities of color in the United States, beginning with the slaughter of Indigenous peoples to make way for colonial settlement, mass industrialization, and capitalist production. Racism has been a central, foundational aspect of US social, economic, and political development and continues to be thus. Capitalism in the US preys on Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, marking bodies of color as mere industrial machines for exploitation in service to white capitalist interests.
The nation is now literally burning as buildings and police cars go up in flames across most major cities. Our hearts are also burning with rage and frustration with the knowledge that we have been here before and the realization that a fundamental change must take place or we will be here again. As frightening as this realization is, it has proven the necessary impetus to act. Large vociferous protests to the treatment of Black peoples can be seen across the nation, with gatherings in every major city in the US and no signs of protests slowing down. Significantly, people are taking to the streets, even though it may increase their risk to COVID-19. This is a multiracial and working-class uprising, indicating that people are coming together in solidarity with the Black community but also recognizing our shared racialized and class oppressions. We are also seeing international solidarity, as people across the world gather in protest to express their support for our cause.
The mainstream media creates villains and heroes that splinter the movement by creating reactionary forces within it. Protestors are made either virtuous for peacefully asking for change or villainous for demanding change through more forceful action. Strategic insurgence against existing structures of oppression can pave the way for new humanist and more equitable structures. Yet, organized and strategic agitators are made into “mindless” looters.
It is no accident that in the hyper capitalist country of the US, the media quickly shifts the focus of attention from the killing of People of Color – human beings – to the loss or theft of property. We are left asking ourselves, if only rhetorically, how after months of pandemic there are still people under significant risk of disease or starvation, while the country can summon all its resources in the matter of hours to “control” the protests? And we should be asking ourselves how many of those “looters” are people whose economic precarity leaves them with little option but to take advantage of any opportunity to feed themselves and their families?
History is being made. Led by the vanguard of Black masses, today’s demonstrators are a revolutionary force. They are angrier, more impatient, and also more knowledgeable than ever before. They have learned from the uprisings that took place in the wake of the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson in 2014. They are recognizing that police brutality and racism are intricately and foundationally tied to capitalism and are aiming for grander structural changes than previously. The more militant agitators are strategically hitting symbols of state repression and capitalism – lighting up and destroying police property, tagging and stealing from the stores of million-dollar corporations, and even pushing against the gates of the White House.
With our fists in the air, hope in our hearts, and strategic action against racism, sexism, capitalism and other structures of oppression, we must remain disobedient and ready ourselves for the changes that must come so that we can create a humanist and racially just socialist alternative.
— Steering Committee of the International Marxist-Humanist Organization
June 3, 2020