Meinen Freunden! Wie Gehts! Bewegung!
For tens of thousands of young people in America, protests against police violence and state terrorism is the order of the day. They take to the streets every day, no matter the weather, in dozens of cities across the United States: north, west, south and east.
No formal organization is directing this bold effort, and the role of traditional civil rights leaders is greatly diminished.
They are largely the response of social media and the youth themselves. They are unmediated and unfiltered by the political parties. They are independent of these parties, and thus able to frame their issues in their own voices, in their own words.
Thus we see and hear chants such as “Hands Up!” Don’t shoot!”; “I Can’t Breathe!”; “Jail Killer Cops!”, and the like. No traditional political party, beholden to their funders and backers, would dare make such chants.
But none of this would be happening without Ferguson, Missouri. It was a stark, unblinking illustration of the repression of the armed state against the fury of unarmed Black youth. It showed us how sniper rifles and automatic weapons, and even armored personal carriers (urban tanks!) couldn’t stop people who were determined to march against police repression.
Those images flashed around the country and the world, igniting protests in nearly 200 cities!
It broke through the illusion that had been promoted by the media and the political classes: That America was a post-racial society.
It showed the impotence of Black politicians to make the lives of average Black people more free.
Ferguson may prove to be America’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of resistance to great social injustice.
The continuing protests in Ferguson are a demonstration against how police kill with naked impunity, especially when their targets are Black.
When cops kill, the system rises up to protect the killer(s), by secret grand juries, prosecutorial discretion, and when all else fails, judicial appellate protection that virtually guarantees that any conviction will be reversed.
That’s what Ferguson revealed, the dirty little secret of police immunity in American cities, in American ghettoes.
To a German audience, with an historical memory of terms like untermenschen, the concept of state killing with impunity must be chilling.
But let us be clear; Black America, despite its glitter and pop, is an oppressed community. It is exploited economically, as in Ferguson, where a plethora of fees and fines threaten the people with debtors’ prison, unless they pay exorbitant court costs.
These monies support a primarily white, yet woefully unrepresentative, local government; the very essence of what once supported an American Revolution: taxation without representation.
Nationally, Blacks are subject to unprecedented mass incarceration which, as law scholar Michelle Alexander has noted in her book, The New Jim Crow, closes the doors to every other entry into American life.
Thrown into nonfunctional public schools, denied jobs, harassed on the streets for Walking While Black, Driving While Black, and even Talking While Black, life for millions in Black America is often, far too often, a living hell.
That reality fueled Ferguson – and launched similar mass movements nationwide.
Those movements are still going strong.
May they only grow!
Thank you! (Danke Sehr!)