Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement By Angela Davis Haymarket Books, 2016 180 pages, $15.95. In the summer of 2014, images spread across the world of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, facing off against police in riot gear, driving tanks and hurling tear gas grenades in the wake of the police shooting of Black teenager Michael Brown.
I had no intention of going to Ferguson, the flashpoint of the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality. It was the United States’ dirty problem, not Australia’s. Then I read a piece about Black Lives Matter activists taking the mic from Bernie Sanders while he campaigned for Democratic presidential candidacy. Parts of the crowd booed.
The St Louis Rams players braved even greater hostility by entering with their hands raised in support of the Ferguson protesters and their “hands up, don't shoot” slogan. The police killing last August of unarmed 18-year-old Black man Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent protests have sparked a new Black freedom struggle and forever changed this country.
Prince at the 2015 Grammy awards: “Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter. Tonight and always.”
Khury Petersen-Smith is a 32-year-old African American activist based in Boston, who is actively involved in the growing “Black Lives matter” struggle sweeping the US. I was able to speak with Petersen-Smith, a member of the International Socialist Organization, at the Marxism 2015 conference organised by Socialist Alternative in Melbourne over Easter, at which he was a featured guest.
A new police murder of an unarmed Black man in the United States has received global attention. It comes as the #BlackLivesMatter movement has swept the country since the police murder of an unarmed Black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri last August. On April 4, officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina, shot 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as he was fleeing. The police initially tried to whitewash the incident, with the all-too-familiar assertion that Slager was assaulted by Scott and feared for his life. So the killing was justified. Q.E.D.
The small, majority-Black town of Ferguson, Missouri has once again become the flash point of a new movement against the oppression of African Americans and the racist response. US Attorney-General Eric Holder recently released a Department of Justice (DOJ) report detailing the systematic oppression of the Black community in Ferguson by city authorities, the police department and the courts.
US bars UN torture investigator from jails and Guantanamo The United Nations special investigator on the use of torture criticised the US on March 11 for stalling for over two years in granting the international human rights body access to inmates at Guantanamo Bay and other federal US prisons.
LA cops shoot dead homeless man Los Angeles police fatally shot a man on March 1 in a confrontation that was caught on video, TeleSUR English reported on March 2. The shocking footage shows several officers struggling with a man in an area known for its homeless population. The struggle continued once the man was on the ground and several shots were fired.
The Justice Department’s investigation of the Ferguson Police Department has uncovered an array of racially discriminatory practices that were commonplace in the St Louis, Missouri, suburb, Jack Holmes wrote at TheDailybeast.com on March 3. Holmes said: “Along with systemic issues, a pattern of personal racial bias among members of law enforcement was uncovered, perhaps best evidenced by a number of racist emails released with the report.”
Selma Directed by Ava DuVernay Starring David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo & Common In cinemas now The release of Selma could not be better suited to the current US political climate. Following the events in Ferguson last year, and many other tragic instances of police murdering and brutalising African American youth, a large anti-police brutality and anti-racism movement has arisen that is shaking the US.
This year’s celebrations of civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King, a national holiday on January 19, were quite different from the staid affairs in recent decades. Tens of thousands of protesters across the country held more than 50 actions, marches and civil disobedience, reclaiming his radical legacy and condemning the police killings of unarmed African Americans.
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