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Uptick of struggle reflects a political crisis in the US

This article is over 5 years, 6 months old
Alistair Farrow spoke to activists from the US about the growing movement against racist attacks—and for a better system
Issue 2512
A protest in St Pauls, Minnesota, after the police killing of Philando Castile
A protest in St Paul’s, Minnesota, after the police killing of Philando Castile (Pic: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)

Anger at the killing of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota has underlined the continuing racism of US society.

And the police reaction to the protests that followed has confirmed it.

Last weekend Osagyefo Sekou was in the St Paul’s suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Philando Castile was murdered by police on Wednesday of last week. He is from the Fellowship of Reconciliation organisation.

“The police are continually escalating their violence,” Osagyefo told Socialist Worker. “Over 100 arrests were made in Minneapolis on Saturday night alone.”

Samuel Sinyangwe from campaign group Campaign Zero agreed. “In cities across America, police are responding to peaceful protests with provocation, violence, and unconstitutional arrests,” he said.

Protests have taken place daily, with people blocking highways and facing down fierce police repression.

“This is an uptick,” said Osagyefo. “There’s a mix of different kinds of people on the protests, first time protesters and older activists.”

Last year police in the US killed 1,134 people.

Black people are the most likely group to be the victims of police attacks. In 2015 they were nine times more likely to be killed by police in the US than any other group.

The recent protests are a response to specific examples of police violence but also a rebellion against the system that produces violence and racism. Osagyefo said the movement is uneven.

“The Black Lives Matter movement has taken on the same meaning as the Civil Rights movement,” he said. “There are many different groups that are organising in local areas.”

James Flint was until recently a Black Lives Matter organiser in Oakland, California. He was on a Black Lives Matter protest in Brixton last Saturday.

James told Socialist Worker, “People are being pushed out of their homes and onto the streets.


“You can only push people so far before they start using guns.”

The recent protests are the largest in two years and have reignited a movement that has the potential to deliver social change.

They are part of the same process that has fuelled the $15 an hour movement, the protests against Donald Trump, recent high-profile strikes and support for Bernie Sanders.

The protests have exposed the hypocrisy at the heart of Barack Obama’s presidency.

His responses to the killing of police officers by an army veteran and to the state murder of unarmed black people have been wildly different.

“The vast majority of police officers are doing a really good job,” said Obama in a speech last Sunday.

He said the vast majority of officers “are trying to protect people, and do so fairly and without racial bias”.

Yet he said protesters who criticised the police could say things about cops that were “stupid or imprudent or over-harsh.”

Racism has not been fundamentally challenged by having a black president.

Yet the inspirational surge in protest contrasts with Obama’s inability to deliver justice.

“At this point I have no sense of where we’re heading,” said Osagyefo.

“But there’s a political crisis taking place in American society and the police’s response has been to continue to repress.

“So our response must be to continue to resist.”

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