All Lives Matter

Don't spit on the floor
Don’t spit on the floor

George Floyd was killed by  Minneapolis police officers on  May 25th  2020.  Preliminary  autopsy  reports showed that  George’s air supply was cut off at  the neck  by  external  ongoing pressure.

The videos of the event clearly shows police officer Derek  Chauvin  kneeling on  George’s neck  while George gasps that  he can’t breathe.  Derek  seems to   looking for approval  from  the 3 other police officers  nearby.

The Wikipedia graph  below shows the number of  deaths  probably caused by  Police officers in  the U.S. over the past 11  years https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_killings_by_law_enforcement_officers_in_the_United_States 

Year (Total) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Pre-2009 (170) Click here for the lists
2009 (72) List not separated by month (click here for the full year)
2010 (297) 14 29 36 25 28 26 31 17 22 27 13 29
2011 (172) List not separated by month (click here for the full year)
2012 (608) 32 27 24 40 41 66 92 90 67 48 43 38
2013 (344) 49 20 36 15 33 21 19 31 41 33 36 10
2014 (635) 56 17 23 20 27 45 27 106 78 57 92 87
2015 (849) 98 84 110 100 88 77 127 47 28 31 25 34
2016 (200) 13 19 18 12 11 7 22 8 15 15 48 12
2017 (138) 9 16 15 16 9 8 10 9 6 6 7 27
2018 (403) 108 78 82 88 2 10 6 11 5 3 5 5
2019 (133) 17 24 30 20 9 17 3 4 1 4 0 4
2020 (16) 0 6 4 0 5 1

The U.S : a society founded on violence and where violence is repeatedly touted as the  complete solution to  both  external  (usually imagined ) and internal  threats.

A showdown  shoot ’em up on Main Street  with the bad guy  will restore all  things to  rights.

The U.S. , a country  that,  unlike most other countries,  glorifies its constitutional  guarantees of its citizens to  carry guns  as  the right to  “freedom”.  A country  where individual  ‘freedoms’  (usually for the more wealthy and  ‘productive”) are prioritised  above the right of collective safety and wellbeing.

In addition , when  we consider that of the  “40% of the two million armed (U.S.) forces deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Twenty-five to forty percent of them develop PTSD, clinical depression, sleep disturbances, or suicidal thoughts”  and 50% of those  do  not receive the help  and support they  need, we can  understand  that there is a vast  pool of fucked-up  and  extreme violence socialised  men in that  society. War does not destroy the victim alone.  As Muhammed Ali,  the great  black  boxer said about being conscripted for the genocicdal  war against Vietnam:one. “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” he said. “No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end.”

President Trump is undoubtedly one of the most incompetent,  ignorant and  bigoted of U.S.  presidents,  and his actions  both  during the ongoing pandemic, and  his  response to  the  sometimes violent demonstrations that have occurred in response to  George Floyd’s murder, have been  extraordinarily counter-productive and dangerous. However it is clear that his actions are applauded by  a large proportion of the United States’  population.  Donald Trump  is a symptom,  not a cause,  of America’s dysfunction.

America is a country  where lying and cheating, cheap  exploitation and  unmitigated violence  at  all  levels of society are projected  as  capitalism  unfettered – an  Ayn Rand society where anything goes, and to hell  with  anyone  and anything  else. Such  a society (despite the country’s enormous wealth  from its natural  resources) is destined for  disaster.  Former President Obama was a master at saying all  the right things,  while continuing to  lie, cheat,  steal  and murder  on behalf of the “exceptional  nation”.

It is a  society and culture that has pursued the propaganda of selling “product” , no  matter the cost  to  vulnerable workers or the environment, or the lies required to make that sale, with  religious zealotry for over a hundred years. And as a consequence, where those who  are not wealthy are not worthy. Adam Shatz ,in “America Explodes’  describes the phenomenon of systemic racism in America  with great  clarity.

The disjunct between  those in power staying “all  the right things”  about  prejudice poverty and violence,  and the reality on  the ground has in the past 20  years,  grown to become an enormous  sink-hole of hypocrisy. It is vital  that  all  people recognise that actions and good conduct  alone determine whether we are a force for good or evil in  this world. Words are cheap.

And we have seen  this commodification of “terror’  creep  all  across the globe  in  the last decade like a virus. Police  officers around the world now dress in  absurd black  clothing or camouflage outfits  armed with   sub-machine guns. Such  foolish  role-playing  dress-ups encourages  police (often with minimal training in  de-escalation and  risk  assessment) to behave like  frightened ‘warriors’ in  a war setting,  where no  such  threat exist.

And again,  while the U.S.  leads the world in  its violent persecution of coloured people (both  deaths and incarcerations) it is by no means alone. Here in New Zealand  (with  a population of 5 million people)  there are  often 2 or 3 deaths a year by  Police of  usually  rangatahi  tane (young Maori men), along with a vastly disproportionate number of men in  gaols ( with  a global   imprisonment ranking up  there with the United States )  who are Maori.

A  supreme irony then  that  one of the bigger earlier demonstrations for “Black  Lives Matter’  outside of the U.S. , was in  Auckland, New Zealand.

However the lead  global agency for systematic violence,  brutality and torture must  surely go  to Israeli  ‘security ‘ forces operating day  and night against  largely defenseless Palestinians for the past 70  years (with unequivocal and unquestioning support by  the United States  and its Western  allies for this brutality) . And not because Palestinians are a threat  to  the huge Israeli  military  juggernaut,  but because they have land that  Israeli  settlers covet.

What  is needed therefore,  is not simply righteous indignation and protestations  at  police brutality, but a systematic global  assessment of where the fault lines that  lead to  to  violence and exploitation of  the vulnerable members of   all of our societies, occur. Once those systemic and sociological  drivers of  violence  and exploitation are identified  – (and named-and they  are  both  complex and  many)-  have been identified,  then  a complete overhaul of   global societal  values  and systems is required.

Footnote:The current simplistic motions in the United States to “defund  the Police”  will  create ever more divisions in  an  already  fractured society  and the potential   for vigilante groups on  the “right”  and “left’  to  determine ‘justice for others.

An  impartial government  policing system  ( one federal  system)  with  regulations that  underscore that  no  police-person  is immune from  prosecution for  violence; that  recognizes but does not excuse,  the roles that  colonialism,  slavery, discrimination, poverty and  historical  injustice have played in creating communities which  tend to be more dangerous,  and addresses those needs;  that  ensures that  every  police officer is extensively  trained in  de-escalation,  conflict  management,  and only uses force as a very  last resort (which can be prosecutable) and that   the endemic U.S.  culture of violence  and gun  use is recognised  and addressed.

And on  the issue of of pulling down memorials (or books, songs or movies  etc)  to past victories of white supremacists, it is well  to remember our past; to  acknowledge  the impact of  our society’s past  prejudices, evils and cruelties,  as well as  the joy, peace  and equality we have created. If we are to  be civilized. And, as Lea Ypi  so  eloquently notes, in  her lessons from  the pulling  down of the symbols of  the Albanian  Communist Party in 1991,  ‘If we scratch the surface, we may discover that since capitalism has historically relied on colonial structures to survive, it may be difficult to demand the end of one without demanding the end of the other’. 

It may  be useful  to  note that most of the statues and monuments  about important people ( almost exclusively men) are of people who  lives were dominated by  the need for power,  fame and/or  money. These were damaged people often  exposed to  early trauma in  their lives, and a determination to  succeed at  all and any cost.

To  know where we have come from  is to empower us.  It is well  to remember where  other societies’ book  burnings and erasure of history  have led us in  the past.


Links

LEE CAMP: Nineteen Facts About American Policing That Will Blow Your Mind

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_George_Floyd

Black Owner of Yaya’s BBQ Killed by Louisville Police Often Gave Them Free Meals

Racist Killing and Impunity

Dispatches From Kansas City: The ‘Insurrection’ That Wasn’t (May 30-31, 2020)

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/america-and-amnesia-violence-

otherhttps://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/251999/police-apologise-to-tuhoe-over-raids

https://www.unz.com/jcook/as-us-protests-show-the-challenge-is-how-to-rise-above-the-violence-inherent-in-state-power/

https://www.sott.net/article/435889-The-failed-states-of-America

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/418694/maori-account-for-more-than-half-of-arrests-by-armed-response-teams-in-trial

https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v42/n12/adam-shatz/america-explodes