On 25th May, George Floyd, 46, died after being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Footage of the arrest shows a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck while he was pinned to the floor. “I can’t breathe,” Mr Floyd said repeatedly, pleading for his mother and begging “please, please, please”.
This continued for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Mr Chauvin, 44, has since been charged with murder.
George’s death follows a series of killings of black people in the USA, including the killing of Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor.
Following George’s murder protests took place In Minneapolis and outside the White House, they then spread across the USA. The repsonse to the protests from the police is rubber bullets, tear gas, mass arrests and violence. The response from Trump is to tweet ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’, call for the mobilising of the National guard and move to designate the anti fascist movement (antifa) as a terrorist organisation.
The protests in the USA take place against the backdrop of not only police killings of black people but also against the backdrop of a Trump admministration that has incited racism against BAME communities, increased attacks on migrant rights and done nothing to protect black and working class communities from the impact of job losses as a result of the current economic crisis.
When we see these protests and witness the violence of the police socialists should remember why we don’t demand more police or demand the police have access to more powerful weapons. We should rasie demands for an end to police repressions, an end to the raiding of peoples home, opposition to calling in the army to suppress protests and call for the police to be disarmed. We should also call for democraticaly elected police committees that have the power to hire and fire police chiefs and oversee the operational managemnet of the police service.
These are not just demands we should raise when calling for solidarity with protests in the USA but are demands for our movement here too.
We have a Tory Government which will be using the Brexit withdrawal process to further attacks on freedom of movement and attacks on rights of migrant workers, which will fuel an increase in racist attacks.. If we begin to protest at these attacks then we shouldn’t be surprised if the Tories mirror the rhettoric and actions of their allies in the USA.
In repsonse to the portests in the USA solidarity protests have taken place across Europe.
The Labour left should support the protests taking place in the UK and internationally and send messages of solidarity to the organisisers. We should defend them when they come under attack for organising protests at the time of lock down and state they we understand the anger that exists against the actions of the police and why the anger here is just too. We should also be calling for the Labour left and the trade union movement to put organsing against racism and fascism at the centre of its activity. Practically now that meeans
- Support the protests and send messages of solidarity to the protest organisers.
- Send financial aid to the organisations bailing those arrested in USA https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/nbfn-directory and sign and circulate the petitions at https://blacklivesmatter.com
- Offer use of trade union/ labour movement offices to the organisations organising the protests.
- For the trade union movement and left to approach organisations organising the protests to offer help in stewarding and ask campaign organsisers to speak at union/ left meetings.