The Bahamas has warned its citizens to be cautious in the U.S., and Black Londoners rallied in solidarity with Black American resistance to racist violence. “Leaders on the African continent, such as, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana as well as the Caribbean and South America, must also stand to account and express their solidarity with the struggle of Africans in America.”
“The whole word is watching the savage undeclared genocidal war against Africans in the US.”
Baton Rouge police officer Blane Salamoni, Howie Lake, III and Minnesota police officers Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser, in the tradition of their predecessors in the slave patrols, carried out their official duties by killing Alton Sterling, 37 and Philando Castile, 32. Unlike the slave patrollers who captured, mutilated and killed thousands of Africans in the US, this savage dance of death between armed government officials and unsuspecting black civilians was broadcast to a global audience triggering international condemnation and black solidarity demonstrations in the streets of London.
Sterling, the father of five children was selling CDs outside of a convenience store that he usually frequented when police slammed him to the ground and shot him. Castile was shot dead in the presence of his girlfriend and her 4 year-old daughter during a routine traffic stop as he was attempting to provide police requested identification.
Indeed, the whole word is watching the savage undeclared genocidal war against Africans in the US. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton found the courage to verbalize the obvious to a gathering organized outside his residence to protest the killing: “Would this have happened if those passengers would have been white? I don’t think it would have.”
“In an effort to protect their citizens, countries are warning them about visiting the US.”
Following the massacres of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the government of the Bahamas, representing a majority Black population, issued warnings to its citizens this week, in particular to Black men, cautioning them about traveling to the US.
The Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration urged its citizens to exercise “appropriate caution” when traveling to the US, especially to cities where “recent police shootings have occurred.” The government warned: “Do not get involved in political or other demonstrations under any circumstances and avoid crowds.” Specifically focusing on the targeting of Black males by police, the government advised its citizens to take ”extreme caution” with police: “Do not be confrontational and cooperate.”
In the past, the US has taken the hypocritical “moral high ground” to warn its citizens about dangers in Nicaragua, Vietnam or other countries. Now, in an effort to protect their citizens, countries are warning them about visiting the US.
“America is not safe. Nor has it ever been safe or healthy for African people in the US.”
Countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America should follow the Bahamian example. The Bahamian government is right. America is not safe. Nor has it ever been safe or healthy for African people in the US. One does not have to tell the families of the late Amadou Diallo, Mohamed Bah or Emmanuel Okutuga about the deadly nature of America.
It takes courage to expose the Empire and to face its repercussions. The Bahamian government is the only Black government that has issued a travel warning. As a result of popular resistance and uprisings last year, France issued warning to its citizens about travelling to St. Louis, Cleveland and Baltimore. Canada and Germany are among the countries that in the past have warned their citizens about traveling to the US. The United Arab Emirates has also warned its citizens not to wear traditional Muslim dress when visiting the US following a spate of Islamophobic attacks.
We need the leadership of Africa and the AU to speak out against the atrocities occurring in the US. Leaders on the African continent, such as, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana as well as the Caribbean and South America, must also stand to account and express their solidarity with the struggle of Africans in America.
“As a result of popular resistance and uprisings last year, France issued warning to its citizens about travelling to St. Louis, Cleveland and Baltimore.”
On a positive and appreciative note, hundreds of protestors from the predominately black/brown community of Brixton, a suburb of London, spilled into the streets to protest the murders of Sterling and Castile. The demonstrators blocked major crossroads in south London that brought traffic on a number of major streets to a halt for nearly 4 hours. The protestors, in solidarity with Africans in America chanting “black lives matter” and “racist police, our streets”
Police officers and helicopters were deployed for surveillance. No reports of clashes with police were reported. Protesters cheered, as one speaker declared” we have locked down Brixton!”
As the struggle for liberation inside the US intensifies and the genocidal strategy of the US becomes more obvious we will need strategic allies and solidarity actions, such as the one by the protesters in Brixton and governments, such as The Bahamas to expose the murders and deliberate poisonings of African communities, such as Flint, Michigan to the global community.
Mumia Abu Jamaal – A New Day – Download Audio>>
Baton Rouge: “Put Those Damn Weapons Down!”
Militarized cops are running amuck in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. T Hundreds of people protesting the death of Alton Sterling have been arrested and many more had guns pointed at them by riot-geared cops seemingly unconstrained by any notion of law. Protesters, journalists and neighborhood residents are locked up for bogus reasons, unlawful reasons, or no apparent reason at all. The justice system is criminal.
By Bill Quigley
“You would think Baton Rouge would watch Ferguson and learn a lesson. Apparently they didn’t.”
“Put those damn weapons down. I’m not going to tell you again, goddamn it. Get those goddamn weapons down.” That was the first command of one of Louisiana’s most revered figures, General Russell Honore, when he arrived in New Orleans in 2005 to direct the military recovery after Hurricane Katrina. The General’s directions have not been followed in Baton Rouge.
Since the police killing of Alton Sterling, thousands of people in Baton Rouge have been non-violently protesting day and night all over the city. There has been no arson in Baton Rouge, no looting, no burning cars, no windows broken, and no people beaten. Police report that a rock or other material was thrown at them but there is no video of such action nor have there been any arrests for such actions.
Despite these non-violent protests, around 200 people have been arrested and the police have shown a militarized and aggressive response.
When Ferguson police showed a militarized response to protestors, General Honore was again plainspoken. “Any time we have policemen pointing weapons at American citizens, they need to go through retraining.” Baton Rouge police, who have a documented history of brutality, clearly need retraining.
After Ferguson, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a scathing report on the police response to protests in Ferguson and they came up with numerous recommendations for law enforcement. While the police have smartly pulled back from protests at the scene of the Sterling killing, many of the DOJ recommendations are being ignored in other protests around Baton Rouge.
“You would think Baton Rouge would watch Ferguson and learn a lesson. Apparently they didn’t,” said Peter B. Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University, to the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Kraska, who’s studied police militarization for the past 25 years, has worked with over 70 police departments on training and reforms.
“Over the past few days, law enforcement in Baton Rouge have escalated many interactions with the public civilian population, creating a more dangerous environment for everyone,” says May Nguyen, Secretary of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG)Louisiana Chapter. The Louisiana NLG, in cooperation with the Southern University Law Center chapter of the NLG, issued its conclusions from information gathered from more than 150 legal observers trained to protect First Amendment rights.
Thousands Non-violently Protesting in Baton Rouge, Hundreds Arrested
Amnesty International, with observers on the ground in Baton Rouge, raised questions about the number of arrests. “In the wake of this intensely emotional week, it is understandable that people across the country have been moved to take to the streets to peacefully exercise their right to be heard. Police have a duty to facilitate the right to peaceful protest while still protecting their own safety and that of the public. The sheer number of arrests last night raises serious questions about proportionate response to peaceful protests. Law enforcement officers cannot selectively decide which laws to enforce during demonstrations – be it against journalists, legal observers or protestors.”
A careful look at the arrests of the three journalists jailed indicates police were arresting many people without any crime being committed.
A conservative white journalist, from the news site Breitbart, who is self-professed Black Lives Matter critic and a strong supporter of law enforcement, Lee Stranahan was arrested under circumstances which call into question the actions of police. He reported “I did nothing to break the law. I was not obstructing traffic because with the road closed and police blocking the lane, there was no traffic. At no point did I hear the police give any order for me or anyone else to stay back. I was given no warning whatsoever; I was simply approached and forced to stop recording.” Stranahan was critical of the lack of leadership of the city and police as well. “…. Without any leadership, whoever was giving the orders to the police was issuing a series of confusing and conflicting rules of engagement for dealing with protesters, and the result was an increasingly chaotic situation with no open lines of communication between police and protesters.”
Another journalist, the assistant news director of a local television station, apparently put one foot on the highway to get a better angle for a video shoot and was arrested. Is that a crime suitable for arrest?
An Indian American reporter for a New Orleans NPR affiliate was arrested while he was on the grass by the highway across from the police station. Trying to move away from an interaction with the police, he found himself surrounded by police who did not let people leave. He was charged with simple obstruction of a roadway despite having camera footage showing he was never in the road.
Police Repeatedly Pointing Weapons at Non-violent Protestors in Baton Rouge
Many, many Baton Rouge officers have threatened non-violent protestors by pointing their weapons directly at them. A Huffington Post journalist reported an officer pointed a machine gun at him. Police are caught on camera pointing their guns at non-violent protestors, in videos and in newspapers pointing guns at protestors. Numerous other reports of police pointing weapons at protestors have been observed by legal observers of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
These officers are not disciplined or suspended by the government but defended. “These officers are on edge. They’re scared just like the public is. But we don’t condone that, and it has been addressed,” said the Baton Rouge Police Chief a couple of days before the police did the exact same thing again.
Wrongful Militarization of the Police in Baton Rouge
Military vehicles with LRADs (long range acoustic devices) atop them have been used to break up non-violent gatherings of people. Baton Rouge has purchased two $299,000 Bearcat armored vehiclesand put LRADs on both, using one Sunday. Such use of an LRAD was specifically criticized by the DOJ Ferguson Report where they said, “At times, the deployment of the long range acoustic device (LRAD) was warranted as a high-volume public address system; however, it should have been deployed using a platform other than an armored vehicle. While the LRAD may be appropriate to disperse crowds, using it in conjunction with an armored vehicle escalates the hostility of the crowd and creates a negative public image.”
Police advanced against protestors dressed in military gear, with gas masks, shin guards, face shields, brandishing assault weapons alongside heavy military vehicles.
“Something is not right in that department in terms of amount of equipment and amount of training,” General Honore told the Morning Advocate about the Baton Rouge police. After watching hours of video of the police response, Honore said “The gas masks themselves were pretty intimidating…My concern is, with those homes there and all the people in the houses, that would not have been a good place to do (show that weaponry), particularly when the protesters weren’t being violent,” he said after viewing hours of videos, imagery and other coverage of protests in Baton Rouge on Sunday.
The DOJ Ferguson report specifically warned police that militarized response was counterproductive and serves to escalate the situation. The use of military garb, weapons, materials and vehicles “inflamed tensions and created fear among demonstrators. Agencies possessing military-type equipment or weaponry should restrict its deployment to limited situations in which the use of the equipment or weapons is clearly justified by the events. The equipment and weapons should be kept out of sight and not be used routinely or in the absence of special circumstances. Policies and procedures should clearly state the limited situations for deployment.”
These are non-violent protestors. They are not an invading army.
Wrongful Arrests of People for Obstructing the Highway While On Public Property
While some protestors were actually blocking a street when they were arrested, dozens of the arrests for obstructing the highway were of people who were arrested on sidewalks, the grass or even inside a person’s house as the journalists’ accounts show. Pictures evidence heavily armed police taking down non-violent protestors not in the streets but on the grass. Other videos show dozens of police surging onto private property and arresting people wholesale. Legal observers documenting the arrests while standing on the sidewalk were also arrested. As The Daily Beast headline sums up: “Baton Rouge Cops Throw Protestors Into Street, Arrest Them for Being There.”
Other Problematic Police Behavior
The Louisiana National Lawyers Guild has received reports of law enforcement covering up their name tags so people cannot know who they are have been received, conduct which is specifically criticized in the DOJ Ferguson report. “Officers wearing name plates while in uniform is a basic component of transparency and accountability…[covering them up] defeats an essential level of on-scene accountability that is fundamental to the perception of procedural justice and legitimacy.”
Likewise, once jailed, the mistreatment continues according to the National Lawyers Guild. People have been pepper sprayed in jail. People in jail were denied their medicines. People hurt during arrests who asked for medical help in jail were denied. People are being caged in places that could not possibly accommodate the numbers of people inside. People are not being allowed to make calls from jail to attorneys or families. Strip searches of women prisoners are occurring.
It is past time, Baton Rouge, to listen to General Honore. “Put those damn weapons down.”
We Must Resist Attempts to Silence Our Voices on Police Violence
By Ajamu Baraka
The state will use the attacks in Dallas to attempt to silence the voices of those who continue to oppose the systematic slaughter of black and brown people by the police across the country. Barack Obama, the hypocrite in chief who cold-bloodily decides who lives and dies every Tuesday in his illegal drone war, proclaims that we need more love and peace. He uses this incident to increase his calls to disarm the people in the form of gun control. But Obama and all of those who make gratuitous declarations of commitments to “love,” non-violence and rule of law when police are killed, strangely don’t seem to have the same level of moral indignation in response to the almost weekly stories of a black woman or man being murdered by a cop, even when the murder is caught on video.
So we are not confused.
We know that if Obama and the general public in the U.S. really believed that all lives had equal value that belief would be reflected in behavior. For example, moral consistency would compel Obama to take a position in opposition to the Israelis who kill and maim Palestinians on a daily basis.
And for those in the general public who pretend to oppose violence and call for gun control, they would also have to condemn the arms merchants from the U.S. who make the U.S. the number one arms dealer on earth. They would have to oppose war and demand peaceful negotiations to end the loss of innocent life in conflicts that their government created around the world. They would have demanded long ago that the Department of Justice become more aggressive in demonstrating that police officers who kill unarmed black and brown folks would face some kind of “justice.”
But we know that Obama, the Black Mis-Leadership Class, the majority of the U.S. public really does not believe in the equal value of all life, and certainly not in the value of poor, working class black life. That is why there is such a small anti-war and peace movement and why the state finds it so easy to align public support – even among “radicals” – for its imperialist violence across the globe.
What this means is that the lives of poor and working class black and brown people have to mean something – to us. While strategically we continue to make demands on the state for “justice” we cannot afford any illusions regarding the nature of the state, the role of its police forces and the impossibility of a racist, capitalist state to render justice to a captive, colonized population.
We have to be prepared to defend the value of our lives. If the state attempts to use this incident to further erode our fundamental human rights, they must know that we will resist. That is the human right that we claim.
We are a peaceful people who only want to be free to develop ourselves, our communities, to see our children grow up without the fear of being killed by some mindless individual who happens to be wearing a uniform.
Yes we are a peaceful people.
We have not asked for the war that is being waged against us. But like all people being subjected to aggression, we have the right to create the conditions in which the war is not a one-sided war.
Black Lives Matter, like all lives, and it is up to us to protect ourselves – and we will.
We have faced moments like this before. We will not be intimidated and we will not be silenced.
Struggle, resist, win, that is our historic task.