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From: The Socialist issue 1130, 21 April 2021: Build a socialist alternative

Search site for keywords: Police - USA - Racist - Black - Black Lives Matter - US - shooting - Racism

USA: cop killings and the anti-racist movement

Black Lives Matter protester - Photo Judy Beishon

Black Lives Matter protester - Photo Judy Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

As the Socialist goes to the printers, the verdict by jurors in the trial of white cop Derek Chauvin, accused of murdering unarmed black man George Floyd, is expected. In this abridged article, Ashley Rogers of the Independent Socialist Group in the USA (co-thinkers of the Socialist Party) explains what kind of movement is needed to take the anti-racist struggle forward.

On 11 April, Daunte Wright was murdered by police during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Centre, a city bordering Minneapolis, Minnesota. Following last year's huge wave of protests over George Floyd's murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin - who is on trial only ten miles from where Wright was killed - this new murder of another unarmed black man at the hands of police ignited protests almost immediately.

Protests began in Brooklyn Centre the night of 11 April and spread around the country in the following few days. The response to Daunte Wright's murder could be the start of a return to large-scale demonstrations like last year's millions-strong Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.

When the George Floyd protests began, his was not the only name remembered at protest rallies - the movement quickly adopted other ignored victims of racist police brutality, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake.

The same is true now with the release of body camera footage of 13-year-old Adam Toledo being shot on 29 March by Chicago police. The video shows Adam Toledo was unarmed, shot with his hands up. The body camera footage was deliberately withheld from the public for weeks by Chicago's police review board, but the new wave of protests may have pressured the police to release the video.

Unfortunately, the George Floyd protests of last year faded with little to show in terms of meaningful change. Pressure from the Democratic Party and leading figures under the Black Lives Matter banner helped take the movement off the streets and diverted any remaining energy away from protests and into backing the Democratic Party in the 2020 elections.

Joe Biden and the Democratic Party opposed many progressive demands against racism and police brutality that emerged out of the BLM movement last summer.

Since Jacob Blake's shooting on 25 August 2020, police shootings have continued non-stop. But reading through the press releases of mainstream anti-racist activist organisations, like the Black Lives Matter Global Network, the focus became less and less on the victims of police brutality and more and more on Biden's 2020 campaign.

Working class

The anti-racist movement needs organisations that can bring together workers and activists to call protests, debate and decide a programme of concrete demands for the movement, share resources, coordinate with other movements and organisations, and build a sustained nationwide movement.

Above all, we need a truly mass movement, one that can bridge the divisions drawn between us by capitalism. A multi-racial working class movement, with the crucial involvement of organised labour, is the most powerful tool we have available.

A movement that unites workers and youth against all forms of oppression under capitalism can also begin to take on the common enemy that keeps us all down - the capitalist system.

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The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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Article dated 21 April 2021

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