Socialist Worker

Uprising grows against racist killings by US police

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2707

Protesters set the Minneapolis Police Third precinct ablaze

Protesters set the Minneapolis Police Third precinct ablaze (Pic: USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images)


A great revolt is taking place in the US. It is against police murders but also about the whole way black people are treated.

It gives hope of a “great reckoning” with the system that has seen over 100,000 US coronavirus deaths. And it shows how suppressed movements of resistance can burst forth again.

Angry protests at the police murder of George Floyd continued for the third consecutive night in Minneapolis on Thursday.

Cops attacked protesters, but the protesters fought back, throwing projectiles and building barricades on the streets.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct headquarters was set on fire. This was the precinct where the officers involved in the murder of George Floyd were based.

A group of protesters also tore down a fence to where police vehicles were kept, threw rocks at them and smashed windows.

Several department stores were burnt and looted.

Charged

Floyd was killed on Monday after being seized by four Minneapolis cops who were responding to an alleged “forgery in progress.” As of Thursday none of the cops involved in the murder had been arrested or charged.

Floyd had repeatedly cried out for help, screaming “I can’t breathe,” and “I’m gonna die” as cop Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for eight minutes.

A protester that identified himself as Cash said protesters were destroying property “because the system is broken”.

Minnesota governor Tim Walz—a Democrat and former soldier—activated the National Guard to repress the protests.More than 500 soldiers were deployed to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul.

Racist US president Donald Trump had previously threatened to call the National Guard to try and crush the protests in Minneapolis

He also condemned looters on Thursday night in a threatening tweet—“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.

The protests have spread to other cities in the US.In Columbus, Ohio, a crowd of over 300 protesters were pepper sprayed after they refused to be moved from the streets.

In Los Angeles around 1,000 people gathered to protest at Floyd’s death and were met with pepper spray. In a horrific video shared on social media, a cop tried to mow down protesters with a car.

Trump: 'When the looting starts, the shooting starts'

At least seven people were shot in Louisville, Kentucky, as protesters turned out to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman fatally shot by police in her home in March.

Police claimed they had not fired the shots.

Hundreds of people filled the streets in Washtenaw County, Michigan for a third consecutive day on Thursday to protest against a brutal police attack.

The protest was initially organized in response to a video that circulated on social media showing a white Washtenaw County Sheriff's deputy punching a black woman in a Ypsilanti Township neighbourhood during an arrest.

“Once we were there, the focus escalated to just injustice as a whole,” said organiser Trische Duckworth. “It is just a consistent violence against black and brown people by many police agencies—it's not just one, it's not an isolated incident, you can see this happens across the country.”


Cop’s record of violence

Officer Derek Chauvin who crushed George Floyd’s neck has a history of violence.

Chauvin had received over a dozen police complaints in a 19 year time span and had faced almost no disciplinary action for any of them.

In 2011 Chauvin was involved in the shooting of a Leroy Martinez, an Alaskan Native American, who was living with relatives in Minneapolis at the time of the shooting.

An eyewitness said that there was no reason to shoot Martinez as he had dropped his weapon.

And another officer involved, Tou Thao, had in 2017 been sued by a man who said that Thao used excessive force during his arrest in 2014.

A video has appeared of the final moments before Floyd was murdered.

In previous police reports, it had been said that Floyd “physically resisted officers” —a common justification made by the police for extra-judicial murder. The video proves that this didn’t happen.

Search

In the video, two officers are seen to conduct what was presumably a stop and search on a car with three people inside including Floyd.

Floyd is taken from the car, and does not resist. He is then sat against a wall, again with no resistance, although it is clear from the video that he was distressed.

Allegedly Floyd had used a counterfeit $10 dollar bill at a nearby business.

A number of white supremacist mass murderers have been calmly apprehended by police and brought to jail to await trial for their crimes in recent years

In 2019 white supremacist Patrick Crusius, murdered23 people in a Walmart in El Paso most of his victims were Hispanic. He allegedly told investigators he set out to kill as many Mexicans as he could.

Crusius was calmly arrested by the police shortly after he began his killing spree.


Bus drivers could refuse to transport police

Some organised workers, including Minneapolis bus workers, are raging against George Floyd’s killing.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) that represents more than 200,000 public transit workers in the US and Canada said its members in Minneapolis have the right to refuse to transport police, in solidarity with protests over Floyd’s murder.

The union’s Minneapolis branch said, “ATU members face racism daily. Our members live in and work the neighbourhoods where actions like this happen, and where this took place, now watched in horror across the globe.

Union solidarity with protesters

Union solidarity with protesters


 

“Police brutality is unacceptable! We say ‘NOT ONE MORE’ execution of a black life by the hands of the police. NOT ONE MORE! JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FLOYD!”

Amalgamated Transit Union International President John Costa said, “We are deeply disturbed and angered by the tragic death of George Floyd, an African-American who was held, handcuffed, on the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck as he pleaded, ‘I can’t breathe’.

“Those all-too-familiar words, first uttered by Eric Garner, an African-American who was suffocated during a 2014 arrest by a white New York police officer, come as a tragic reminder of the injustice inflicted on persons of colour every day in the United States.   

“We are calling for a full and independent investigation into Floyd’s death, and for appropriate action to be taken to ensure that justice is served.

“Furthermore, as our members–bus drivers–have the right to refuse work they consider dangerous or unsafe during the pandemic, so too Minneapolis bus drivers have the right to refuse the dangerous duty of transporting police to protests and arrested demonstrators away from these communities where many of these drivers live.

“This is a misuse of public transit.”


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