“For Tribunal for Popular Justice.”
A year ago, the nation and much of the world saw an explosion of popular support for laws against police terrorism against the people sparked by the film of the killing of George Floyd. The telephonic recording of the man dying as he was crying for his mother touch hearts worldwide and became the impetus for laws designed to protect people from state police violence.
The roiling ferment from this mass multiracial protest forced this question into a national issue demanding a broad and national solution through Congress. And so this issue went to Congress to die. Politicians whittled and waited until the dead died down and protesters went back home. The media found new spectacles, and the politicians slowly choked the police violence bill into a quiet inglorious death. Why should that concern us at the tribunal?
Because it reminds us of the truly precarious nature of black life in America both then and now. For several centuries, black folks and our allies fought against the torture of lynching, sending countless petitions and pleadings to Congress where they died in silence. The iron grip of the slavocracy still held sway in Washington until the waves of black freedom and anti-war movements washed much of this away.
But white supremacy wears many faces and adopted the garb of neoliberalism to wage war against the poor as well as black communities, often co-opting black allies. These neoliberals brought new vigor to the industry of repression, building prisons across rural America while the corporate media further demonized black life in or out of prison. It should not surprise us that Clintonian neoliberalism built and filled more prisons for juveniles than any other jurisdiction on earth.
Now, today, after one of the biggest civil rights protests in history—here I’m speaking of the George Floyd actions—the bill named in his memory is as dead as Floyd himself, for Congress is once again in the grip of a fascist fever that was seen by all on January 6th. It is still feverish, and it is unwilling or unable to sign his name to any civil rights bill unless, of course, it benefits Donald Trump. And if black freedom is off the table, state repression is on it. This tribunal needs to seize the time and back the tide of history and oppose state repression while expending the call for black freedom, for abolition, and an end to mass incarceration.
From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal. Thank you all for coming.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.