By Sophie Squire
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Anti-racist rage boils over in protests across the US

This article is over 3 years, 11 months old
Issue 2710
Commemorating Juneteenth in Minneapolis
Commemorating Juneteenth in Minneapolis (Pic: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)

Protests are continuing to rage across the US over the racist murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin a month ago. 

The anger against the system is constantly revived by further police killings.

In Los Angeles protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets to demand justice for the police killing of Andres Guardado on Thursday of last week. 

Guardado was shot and killed ­outside a car shop where he was working as a security guard. The 18 year old was pronounced dead at the scene after cops fired six rounds at him. 

Celina Abarca, Guardado’s cousin said, “He was a baby, he was a baby. We just want answers.” 

In New York, a police officer has been suspended without pay for holding a black man in a chokehold.

The incident which was caught on camera shows cops holding Ricky Bellevue on the ground while an officer crushes his neck. 

Ten minutes into the video a police officer taunts the man, “I’ll throw shit in your face.”

And in Washington, protesters blocked a key highway that leads to Capitol Hill, closing it for several hours on Sunday afternoon. 

Activists occupied the road and held homemade placards with the message, “This is a revolt against racism.”

Several statues of racists have been removed across the US in the last week. Big anti-racist demonstrations last Friday marked “Juneteenth”— a commemoration of the end of slavery. 

At a Juneteenth rally in Washington last Friday the statue of confederate general Albert Pike was brought down and then set on fire as protesters chanted “no justice, no peace.” And in Raleigh, North Carolina protesters toppled two Confederate statues, then hung one from a lamp post. 

Further details are emerging about racism at every level of the legal system. 

Guards at the jail that held Chavin say that only white workers were allowed to supervise him when he was first brought to the facility last month. 

Eight officers have filed complaints with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. 

They say that the Ramsey County jail boss kept them from bringing Chauvin to his cell—or even being on the same floor as him—because they are black.

Steve Lydon, the jail superintendent, admitted it was true they had re-deployed black workers for a short period of time. 

Pressure on the police appears to be having some results.

The New York police department says it will disband its plain clothes anti-crime units. 

A 2018 review found that ­plainclothes anti-crimes officers had been involved in 31 percent of fatal police shootings since 2000, despite only representing a tiny minority of the force.

And in Los Angeles the city council has recently introduced a measure that would send crisis response teams, not police officers, to handle non-violent situations.

These reforms to policing show that protests have worried those at the top. 

But the uprising against police brutality and racism must continue to grow and push for more.

Solidarity port strikes

Port workers across the west coast of the US stopped work and shut down ports last Friday to show their solidarity with Black Lives Matter movement and to commemorate Juneteenth. 

This is the date in 1865 when slavery was officially abolished. The stoppages were organised by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). 

In Oakland, thousands of workers and protesters marched from the port to the Oakland police department. 

And a caravan of hundreds of cars followed the demonstrators. 

Willie Adams the president of the ILWU at the Port of Oakland, said, “We’re not working today. We’re standing in solidarity.” 

Activist and author Angela Davis attended the protest and told the crowd of workers, “You represent the potential and power of the labour movement. Hopefully, this action will influence other unions to stand up and say no to racism. And yes to abolishing the police as we know them.

Demonstrations to mark the day took pace across the country.

Trump kicks off election campaign 

Donald Trump held his first campaign rally since the start of lockdown in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday night. 

In a half-empty arena he made no concessions to anti-racism protesters.

In a 107-minute meandering speech he did not mention George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, or Rayshard Brooks.

These are all victims of recent racist murders by white policemen or vigilantes linked to the police.

Instead he backed the killer cops. “As president, I will always support the incredible men and women of the law enforcement,” he said.

And he attacked the removal of statues of Confederate generals. He described the protests as an effort to “desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments,” and as a “cruel campaign of censorship.”

He also threatened hundreds of anti-Trump demonstrators outside the arena, saying, “When you see those lunatics all over the streets, it’s damn nice to have arms.”

He tried to suggest that the mainstream Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden was controlled by the far left.

Trump ranted, “Americans have watched left wing radicals burn down buildings, loot businesses, destroy private property, injure hundreds of dedicated police officers. 

“Does anybody honestly think he controls these radical maniacs? He will surrender your country to these mobsters.”

The Trump team claimed that over a million requests had been made by people wanting to attend his first rally.

But only around 7,000 people turned up.

For all his bluster, the movement on the streets—and horror at the handling of coronavirus—have weakened Trump.

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