Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, making a point to the audience at the Kent College of Law in Chicago. Azikiwe is a frequent guest on various media outlets worldwide., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Statement to the Organizing Meeting to Fight Back
Attacks on African Americans, oppressed must be challenged and defeated
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Note: The following statement was made at the MECAWI/Moratorium NOW! Coalition meeting held on April 16, 2012. This meeting was also addressed by Rev. Edward Pinkney, the President of the NAACP Twin Cities Branch in Benton Harbor.
Tonight’s meeting on the need to organize a nationwide fight back against the current wave of racist violence and repression comes at a critical time in the history of the United States and the world. As we mourn the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Haynes (of Detroit), Robert Davis III (of Inkster), Kendric McDade (of Pasadena) and countless others who have fallen just this year, it is important to recognize that through our own efforts aimed at the liberation of humanity that their lives were not lost in vain.
Across the U.S. African Americans are being targeting for racial violence and repression as well as intensified economic exploitation and degradation. In Tulsa, a city where racist violence has a profound historical legacy, three African American men were killed and two others critically wounded on April 6.
One of the suspects arrested indicated that he was angry because his father was allegedly killed by a Black man. Yet this cannot totally explain the impunity in which these blatant crimes against humanity were committed.
For is it not true that thousands of African Americans have been killed by racists both within and without law-enforcement since the end of slavery during the 19th century? Lynch law was a integral part of U.S. political culture between the 1880s and the Great Depression where scholars have documented the extra-judicial killings of over 5,000 people.
Since the Great Depression many more have died and almost none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice. Police terrorism has no “patriot act” to challenge and pursue it legally or militarily.
The criminal justice system in the U.S. houses hundreds of thousands of African Americans and Latino/as making up a majority of those imprisoned in a so-called democratic society. Almost everyone in prison emanates from the working class and the poor. There are no known rich people on death row in America; these seats are reserved for the most oppressed and marginalized within this deeply divided class society.
Even under an African American president, Black folks can be railroaded, imprisoned and murdered without fear of repercussion within the legal system. Those in the system cannot expect justice which the Troy Davis case revealed last year in the state of Georgia.
Although there was substantial evidence that Troy Davis was not guilty of killing an off-duty police officer and his execution had been stayed on numerous occasion, he was still executed despite the pleas of millions around the country and throughout the world.
What was the Obama administration’s response to the execution of Troy Davis after the fact: that they could not intervene in a state matter. This is the same rationale utilized during the post-reconstruction period through the 1960s, when southern and northern racists conducted pogroms and legalized institutional racism against tens of millions of people of African descent.
The only way some relief was achieved was through the self-organization and mobilization of the masses of African Americans and their allies inside the U.S. and around the world. The Civil Rights and Black Power movements through mass demonstrations, sit-ins, boycotts and urban rebellions won the legal basis for the destruction of discrimination in the racist empire.
Let us make no mistake about it, if African Americans had not rose up during the post-World War II period in the millions there would have never been the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the advent of Affirmative Action and the assumption office by thousands of elected Black officials throughout the country. The Counter-intelligence program not only sought to destroy the left in the U.S. but its most vehement actions were taken against the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, leaving hundreds dead, thousands imprisoned, whole communities decimated and the rendering of millions in the thralls of a low-wage system of labor exploitation and idleness.
The Current Economic Crisis and the Need to Transcend World Capitalism
Today we are facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Although we are told on a daily basis by the administration and the corporate media that the economy is improving and the recession has been over for more than two years, we are still suffering from foreclosures and evictions, astronomical unemployment and poverty, the lack of healthcare, quality education and social stability. In fact there is no urban policy emanating from the Congress and the federal government to address the burgeoning crisis of the cities, suburbs and rural areas of the country.
It is the bankers and bosses who created this crisis and it is they who should pay for it. We are told on a daily basis by the corporate media and the right-wing politicians that the source of the crisis in Detroit and other majority African American cities derives from the wages, social and economic concessions won through decades of struggle by working people and the nationally oppressed. Nothing is ever said about the trillions spent on endless wars against people of color around the world and the structures of homeland security, the prison-industrial complex, the bailout of the banks, insurance companies, the auto industry and the unpaid taxes of corporations and the most-wealthy.
Their solution is to place the masses under emergency management, consent decrees and financial stability agreements. They want to bust the unions, disenfranchise African American voters and create and even more vicious police state through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Our response must be one of struggle: through the organization and mobilization of the masses. We must put forward bold and militant demands. This is why the Moratorium NOW! Coalition has called over the last four years for a total halt to foreclosure, evictions and utility shut-offs. Housing is a right and without the ability to maintain our homes our cities are being destroyed at a phenomenal rate.
We are now calling for a moratorium on debt-service payments to the banks who have looted Detroit and other cities in Michigan. The $16 billion they say is owed to Detroit is our money. We owe the bankers nothing. It is they who made their riches through the Atlantic Slave Trade, colonialism, the exploitation of labor in the U.S. and throughout the world and the wars of imperialism and genocide.
MECAWI’s slogan has been over the last decade: “Money for Our Cities, Not for War.” We demand the end to all imperialist wars abroad and the closing of all U.S. military bases both outside and inside the country. Let’s bring the troops home and re-employ them with productive work and quality education that benefit humanity and not destroy it.
Please join us in this struggle. We need your assistance as members, supporters and allies. As it took the masses of workers, youth and farmers to win the labor struggles of the 1930s and 1940s as well as the Civil Rights and Black Power gains of the 1960s and 1970s, it will take an even larger and more revolutionary movement to end capitalist exploitation, national and gender oppression, the imperialist wars of aggression and the continuing benign neglect of the cities and other affected regions of the U.S. during the 21st century.
Our struggle is both national and global. We have billions of class allies throughout the world in Africa, Asia, the South Pacific, Latin America, the Caribbean and in Europe. Let us join together to build a better future for ourselves and our children.