When did racism become a legal and moral justification for police and vigilantes to murder a Black man in amerikkka?

November 26, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From a reader

We are now being subjected to the obscenity of Darren Wilson’s “testimony” to the so-called “Grand Jury” that let him walk. The prosecutor gave Wilson every opportunity to justify the murder of Michael Brown. And the essence of that justification seems to be that “Officer” Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown because, in Wilson’s racist mindset, Michael Brown looked “demonic!”


Darren Wilson didn’t know anything about Michael Brown. He didn’t know, and didn’t care, that Michael Brown was loved by family and friends as a gentle giant. All Darren Wilson saw was a large Black man. Programmed by a system that demonizes Black people, Darren Wilson looked at an unarmed human being and saw demon. Killed him. And got a pat on the back from the powers-that-be.

That in and of itself would be a horror, an intolerable crime. But over and over racist hatred and fear is invoked – successfully – as a legal justification to kill unarmed Black men doing nothing at all wrong. Just in the last few months:

  • On August 5, 22-year-old John Crawford picked up a toy gun in the toy department at Walmart near Dayton, Ohio. Two customers – freaked out by seeing a young Black man playing with a toy gun he had picked up in the toys section – called police. Police arrived and instantly shot and killed John Crawford. No charges brought.
  • On November 20, Akai Gurley, a Black man, was walking down the dark stairway of a Brooklyn housing project where the authorities never fix the lights. At the sight of an unarmed Black man in a stairway, a cop blasted away, killing Akai Gurley. No charges have been brought against the cop.
  • On November 22, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was playing on a playground in Cleveland with a toy gun – something Walmart sells by the million. Tamir Rice was doing what every boy, at least, in America, is encouraged – even pressured to do – playing with a toy gun. But this child was Black, and so a pig blew him away. No charges.

And in a trial seen around the world, George Zimmerman got a pat on the back for stalking a young Black man in a hoodie because in Zimmerman’s racist mind, Trayvon Martin – minding his own business – was a threat. That was all the system needed to give Zimmerman a license to kill.

In fact, in state after state – not just in the south – laws have been passed to encourage white people to kill Black people if they feel threatened by them, explicitly defining that as legal even if there is no REAL basis for that fear. Of course those laws are not intended to apply to Black people who have a legitimate and highly rational fear that an encounter with police can lead to their death!

The underlying “logic” and IM-morality of allowing all these murderers a free hand is that any white man has a legitimate reason and right to fear and kill any Black man, under any circumstances.

When did racist fear and hatred of Black men become a legal excuse to murder a Black man? Basically from the moment this system was established on these shores through the violent genocide of the Native peoples and enslavement of Black people – enforced by the whip and the noose.

After the end of formal slavery, the KKK terrorized Black people in the south, and beyond, lynching thousands of people for “crimes” like looking a white man in the eye, not stepping aside when a white person approached, or just for doing nothing. In the beginning of the film Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, Bob Avakian recounts the nature and impact of these lynchings, including the infamous brutal killing of Emmett Till.

The 1915 movie Birth of a Nation, still to this day widely acclaimed as one of the greatest American movies by critics, is an infomercial for lynching – portraying Black men as – yes – demonic – rapists (even while during slavery and in the decades afterwards, the rape of Black women by white slave owners and plantation owners was systematic).

Today, it is the police – as well as racist vigilantes –licensed to kill Black people, with no better excuses than the KKK lynch mobs had. In the 30 years between 1890 and 1920, 2,254 Black people were lynched in the USA. Official statistics of the U.S. Department of (IN)Justice – certainly undercounted – list 3,696 Black people killed by police between 1976 and 1998.

And today, as in the days of the lynch mobs, popular culture, politicians (of all stripes), police chiefs (and NBA owners), spew out vicious racist stereotypes demonizing Black people.

This system was born in white supremacy. It is soaked through and through with white supremacy. The police who serve this system have no more legitimacy than a KKK lynch mob. Except that this murderous terror is coming from official armed enforcers of the powers-that-be.



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