- Created: Tuesday, 19 August 2014 19:17
- Written by FRFI
On Monday 9 August 2014, a young black man was shot dead by a police officer in the US suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. 18-year-old Michael Brown was unarmed and had his hands up in a position of surrender when he was gunned down.
Protests against Michael’s killing soon developed into full-scale confrontation between the 70% black Ferguson community and the heavily tooled-up local police force, which has just three non-white officers. The police took to the streets like an army rolling into enemy territory, in full US marine kit. In one video of a peaceful protest a cop is heard shouting at protesters ‘bring it on you fucking animals’.
One of the most striking things about the film footage coming out of Ferguson is the extent of the military-style hardware on show. As former US Marine Paul Szoldra wrote: ‘They have short-barrelled 5.56mm rifles based on the military M4 carbine, with scopes that can accurately hit a target out to 500 metres. On their side, they carry pistols. On their front, over their body armour, they carry at least four to six extra magazines, loaded with 30 rounds each.’
It has been common practice in recent years for the Pentagon to donate surplus military equipment to US police departments; through the scheme known as the ‘1033 programme’, more than $4bn worth of military hardware has been distributed from the defence department to local law enforcement agencies in the last 10 years. As a result, equipment that has been used in the bloody and disastrous occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan is now being used against black communities in the US. In addition, many US police forces have direct links to the Israeli army, with many chiefs of police travelling to Israel for training, including that of the local St Louis police.
Ten days on from the killing of Michael Brown, the uprising in Ferguson continues, as a community which has been systematically oppressed, stands up against state racism, brutality and poverty. Their action has struck a chord around the world, and there have been solidarity demonstrations and events in many countries. On 17 August FRFI supporters attended a protest outside the US embassy in London organised by the London Black Revolutionary Socialists, where many speakers drew direct parallels between what has happened in Ferguson and the uprisings across Britain in 2011 which followed the police killing of Mark Duggan.
In a true demonstration of international solidarity between oppressed peoples, there has also been solidarity and support from Gaza where the population continues to resist Zionist occupation and mass murder. Gazan residents have used social media to send advice to the people of Ferguson on how to deal with tear gas attacks, and in Ferguson protesters have started carrying Palestinian flags in an act of reciprocal solidarity.
We reprint below a statement from the Party of Socialism and Liberation*, which has been distributed on the streets of St Louis and Ferguson:
All the politicians are calling for calm and peace. Fighting back in the streets, they say, accomplishes nothing. They say the people have to work within the system to bring about change.
But what has the system ever accomplished? This is the same “new Jim Crow” system that let George Zimmerman walk free. This is the same system – with the same prosecutors and judges – that is locking up young Black men left and right. This is the same system that has always been based on poverty, unemployment, gentrification and racism. There can be no peace with this system!
The poor Black communities of St. Louis are tired of being disrespected and beaten down. The Party for Socialism and Liberation stands with those in the streets — they have every right to rebel.
Every worker in this country was taught that the current form of the US government was the byproduct of a revolution. The Declaration of Independence says it is “the Right of the People to alter or to abolish” an abusive and oppressive government — in fact “it is their duty to throw off such Government.”
Revolution is upheld as a righteous thing – as long as it happened over 200 years ago!
Revolutionary action, and even violence, is upheld as a necessary thing – as long as it was led by rich white men and slaveholders!
But the minute that Black people or other poor and working people begin to rise up, they say “slow down, be calm.” The media and politicians call them animals and criminals.
In reality, the system is criminal. The cops are the real gang. The banks and corporations are the real looters. The officer who shot down an 18-year-old for crossing the street is the real animal.
This is not the time to stop fighting back. The task of the moment is to fight back with increasing levels of organization and coordination.
The state is highly organized and centralized. It is deploying military tactics – from the federal government down to the local police – to defeat the people’s uprising. It has trained and prepared its personnel for scenarios like this.
While the people do not yet have equally strong organizations, every night they are learning — and learning fast. Just like in Egypt or in Gaza, the people are learning how to fight more effectively, how to differentiate friend from foe, and the lessons for tomorrow’s struggles.
From the mass protests can emerge a national mass movement. And from that rebellious movement can emerge revolutionary fighters and organizations, dedicated to defending and serving the communities under attack.
The whole world is watching St. Louis. Regardless of what the mass media says, poor and working people are applauding every righteous blow against this racist system!