We Need To End Racist Police Violence Now and Fight for Justice, Jobs, Housing and Health Care For ALL
STATEMENT OF THE REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALIST NETWORK
June 6, 2020 — Since the racist police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, a new wave of national protests against racist murders and social injustice has swept the United States. For the last 10 days, almost 600 cities have had protests. This rebellion,led by Black youth, has mobilized a true multi-racial coalition of working class youth—with the support of other sectors of the population who cannot protest because of the high risk of contagion in the midst of this pandemic.
In response, more than 76,000 National Guard troops have been mobilized in 33 U.S. states, and more than 80 cities (including Washington D.C.) have declared curfews. The scale of these mobilizations echoes the mass uprisings in the 1960s that began in Watts in 1965 and culminated in the national wave of protests after the assassination of Dr. King in 1968, as well as the Los Angeles Uprising of 1992 demanding justice for Rodney King that spread nationally and beyond. So far the protests have accomplished some partial and preliminary victories—the charging of the fourcops implicated in the murder of Floyd, and the beginning of lifting of some of the curfew measures—but the struggle is far from over.
The Racist Murder of George Floyd Was the Spark
This uprising is happening in the midst of a pandemic and an historical social and economic crisis comparable to the 1930s. As many protesters say, this murder was strike three in two ways: first, the murder of George Floyd is the third racist police killing that has made the national news since the beginning of the pandemic; second, racist police violence is now piling up on the devastating effects of an ongoing pandemic that remains out of control, with more than 100,000 people dead, and a growing economic crisis. On top of the 40 million unemployed, there is growing food insecurity throughout the country, and it is predicted that 54 million Americans will go hungry if the government does not intervene.
The George Floyd murder has sparked a revolt of Black people and wider sectors of the working class who are saying enough is enough. Many white, Latino, and Asian young demonstrators are joining the protests, as well as unionists.
The pandemic and the crisis have shown that capitalism has only one motive—the increase of profit—and that big corporations and its governments are willing to sacrifice the lives of working people for it. Yet this system that is killing working people is a racialized one: racism is endemic to the capitalist system, which assigns a lower value to Black and Brown bodies and their labor. Here are some figures:
The pandemic has inflicted a higher death toll among Latinx people and especially among Black Americans, who are dying at nearly three times the rate of white people:
- 1 in 1,850 Black Americans has died (or 54.6 deaths per 100,000)
- 1 in 4,000 Latino Americans has died (or 24.9 deaths per 100,000)
- 1 in 4,200 Asian Americans has died (or 24.3 deaths per 100,000)
- 1 in 4,400 White Americans has died (or 22.7 deaths per 100,000)
“More than 20,000 African Americans—about one in 2,000 of the entire black population in the US—have died from the disease.” “Collectively, Black Americans represent 13% of the population in all areas in the U.S. releasing COVID mortality data, but they have suffered 25% of deaths.”Police are using social distancing to increasingly crack down on communities of color while relaxing their policing of white people: “In New York, blacks made up a staggering 93 percent of coronavirus-related arrests. There are similar racial disparities in Chicago.” More recently city governments have imposed curfews. This is in contrast to the freedom of movement and police protection of armed gangs of far right whites who demanded reopening the economy in early May—in one case going so far as to enter the Michigan state capitol, forcing postponement of government business.
Trump and Governors Are Escalating the Crackdown on Protests
The response from state authorities to these protests has been heavily militarized and brutal from the start. State authorities rapidly deployed the National Guard and quickly resorted to tear-gassing, savagely beating, and shooting peaceful protesters with rubber bullets, in some cases ramming into crowds with patrol cars. Furthermore, the Pentagon, under the direction of Trump, has offered to send in the military and some troops have already been deployed. In his June 1st speech, Trump threatened to use the Insurrection Act to send in the military to quash the protests. As he spoke, police and National Guard could be heard tear-gassing and beating protesters to clear the way for him to walk to a nearby church for a photo op.
Minneapolis is a Democrat-run city, and so is the state of Minnesota. So far there has been no difference in the response to protests by both parties; there is a clear bi-partisan consensus that these protests need to be suppressed. Trump wants to use force to “dominate” and militarily defeat the protests by any means necessary. The Democrats want to repress the movement and at the same time look for a possible electoral co-optation of the anger of Black people. For example, cops in several cities have “taken a knee” to claim solidarity with protesters’ denunciation of the murder of George Floyd. City officials have made a major point of verbally opposing racism in the police apparatus. Even as they repress protesters, they claim to oppose police brutality. The fact that they feel the need to make these gestures, for the first time in U.S. history, shows the depth, breadth, strength, and anger of this movement.
But Democrats cannot have it both ways, and contrary to what they were able to do through the cooptation of the BLM movement (transformed now into Movement 4 Black Lives with a broad reformist and electoralist platform), these protests show the huge gap between the needs and aspirations of Black people and the DP.
We demand the immediate withdrawal of all the National Guard from all cities and also of the U.S. Military Police units in Minneapolis, as well as an end to all curfews. We defend the political rights of working people to have free speech, assemble and demonstrate because we need to be able to organize against those who are trying to kill us directly and indirectly—by denying healthcare, jobs, housing, and food.
Who Are the Looters?
We further oppose the criminalization of the ongoing protests, whether this is under the pretext that they involve looting and vandalism or under the label of “antifa,” etc. We recognize these labels as attempts by the capitalist class and their politicians to delegitimize the uprising, to demonize and divide its participants. The majority of the protests are peaceful, but we defend our right to self-defense when attacked. We support this mass rebellion despite its messiness, and for those who are concerned only or firstly with looting and the destruction of private property, we want to restate that the working class creates all wealth. We can tear it down and build it again.
As Tamika Mallory has pointed out, “America has looted Black People. America looted Native American people when they came here. We learned violence from you.” And she is obviously right, whether it be in the labor looted from Black people under the system of chattel slavery, the exploitation of prison labor, or the resources looted through American imperialist exploitation of Latin America and the Middle East. Indeed, the very land upon which this country was built was looted from the Native Americans over the course of more than two centuries of violent expansion. The U.S.is a country built on looting, and it continues to survive on looting. This reality is becoming increasingly clear to working people in this current moment.
The ongoing protests are happening in a context of massive and unprecedented unemployment: 40 million Americans, and countless other non-Americans, documented and undocumented, have lost their jobs; many are months late on their rent and mortgage payments. There is a sense of deep social desperation in our country, and the $1,200 stimulus money is insulting and insufficient to meet even basic needs. The insult is compounded by the billions of dollars lavished on the ruling rich in the form of tax breaks and bailouts.
We Need to Organize Broad Solidarity and Joint Mobilizations with Unions and Working-Class Communities
The shocks of economic crisis, Covid-19 and now this most blatant murder of George Floyd hasthe potential to shake things up, and the organized sector of the U.S. working class holds a key to advance the class struggle. This time we are seeing a reaction from Labor and working-class communities that goes beyond rhetorical support: the refusal of municipal bus drivers to be “bust” drivers, transporting those arrested in the protests, led to the positioning of several Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) locals against working with the police to transport protesters or cops. We need to deepen this movement to de-solidarize our unions from state repression and police, and formally break any ties with these institutions. Instead, we must actively and visibly join the protests. We are committed to organizing the rank-and-file to mobilize their union locals and their co-workers to join the protests, and also to connect the ongoing protests to the fight against austerity, layoffs, and pay cuts on the job.
As socialists, we need to actively participate in this mass rebellion by agitating among all sectors of our class—including unions, but also community organizations, youth groups, the vast majority of workers who are unorganized and the unemployed—to support these protests and join the fight against racism and police violence. We need to join and organize the ongoing mass actions of civil disobedience in a democratic and independent manner, with community security and with a clear political platform that unites our struggles so we can win real change.
Black Lives Matter!
Abolish The Police!
Jail for ALL Killer Cops! Justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor!
Immediate Withdrawal of the National Guard and All U.S. Military Troops!
Immediate End to All Curfews and Mass Arrests! Drop All Charges!
Jobs, Income, Healthcare, Housing, and Justice for All!
Trump Must Go!
Groups Affiliated to the RSN:
Central Ohio Revolutionary Socialists
Seattle Revolutionary Socialists
Workers’ Voice / La Voz de los Trabajadores