Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Chairperson, ILPS International Coordinating Committee
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) condemns the racist murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, on 26 February! The hearts of our members in 43 countries are with his family in their time of loss. We condemn the Sanford police for letting his killer walk free! We stand with the tens of thousands around the United States who are taking to the streets to demand justice.
The police-sanctioned vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin cannot be separated from the daily, systematic and massive state violence – police harassment, false arrest, mass incarceration and murder – inflicted on Black, Latino, Native, Asian and all people of color in the United States, especially youth! Racist police and state violence in the United States constitutes a crime against humanity.
Neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin to death in cold blood. He said he thought Martin looked “suspicious” because he wore a hooded sweatshirt. The unarmed young Black man was begging for his life. Yet police let Zimmerman walk free and acted as though Trayvon Martin, who carried only a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles candy, was the criminal.
Zimmerman’s release has encouraged further acts of racist violence. On April 6 two white men drove into the Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and shot five people at random, killing three. The Black Cultural Center at Ohio State University in Columbus was vandalized and painted with the words “Long live George Zimmerman.” Neo-Nazis from the Michigan National Socialist Movement have begun armed patrols in Sanford, unhindered by police.
People across the U.S. have taken to the streets to protest the outrage in Florida, and many have been violently attacked by the police. Cops attacked protesting high school students in Harlem, throwing one through a plate-glass window.
Many protesters have worn hoodies to show solidarity with Martin. Black Illinois Representative Bobby Rush was physically ejected from Congress when he put on a hoodie while speaking about the case.
While Trayvon Martin’s killer walks free, police around the U.S. are waging what amounts to a war against people of color. Armed police invade Black and Latino communities in the brutal manner that U.S. soldiers invade villages in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Indeed, in the first three months of this year, at least 28 Black people have died at the hands of police, armed security guards or vigilantes. The majority were unarmed and even police admit that 11 were not involved in any illegal activity.
Ramarley Graham, 18, was unarmed when cops kicked down the door of his grandmother’s Bronx apartment and shot him to death in front of his family last Feb. 6. They said they thought he had marijuana. In New York City alone, police have gunned down 205 Black and Latino people since unarmed street vendor Amadou Dialo, 23, died in a hail of 41 police bullets in 1999. On Nov. 26, 2006, New York cops fired 50 shots when they murdered 23-year-old Sean Bell on his wedding day and wounded his friends Tent Benefield and Joseph Guzman. None of the three were armed.
Not only the young are police targets. On Nov. 19, 2011, Kenneth Chamberlain, 68 years old and a former Marine and corrections officer living in White Plains. New York, accidentally pushed a medical-alert button he wore. Police kicked down his door, Tasered him and shot him to death. The cop who twice pulled the trigger was being sued for brutally beating two Arab men in 2008 but was still on patrol with a gun.
John Collado, 43, a grandfather, tried to restrain a man from beating a friend of his on his Upper Manhattan street. The assailant, an undercover cop, shot Collado to death. Manuel Loggins, 31, a former Marine sergeant was on an outing with his 9- and 14-year-old daughters when Orange County, California police shot him to death in front of them.
These vicious killings are only the tip of an iceberg of abusive searches, traffic stops, beatings, stun gun torture and mass arrests that police commit daily on people of color. New York police “stopped and frisked” over 500,000 people, overwhelmingly Black and Latino males, in 2011. The U.S. Supreme Court recently authorized strip searches in the most minor arrests.
Over 2 million people are in U.S. jails and prisons, 25 percent of the world’s prison population. Millions more face charges, have criminal records or on parole, stripped of basic democratic rights. Most of those incarcerated are Black and Latino. One of every nine Black men between the ages of 19 and 34 is behind bars. The U.S. imprisons Black people at a higher rate than did apartheid South Africa. Among the imprisoned are such political prisoners as Mumia Abu Jamal, Jamil Abdullah al-Amin and Native freedom fighter Leonard Peltier.
This mass incarceration is carried out by the same state and system that deny young people in the United States the basic human right to a job. The record unemployment sweeping the United States is at genocidal levels in communities of color.
The prison figures don’t include the 30,000 immigrant workers and their families in detention and awaiting deportation on any given day in the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents terrorize immigrant communities and break up families.
Muslim communities have also become the targets of police and federal terror as the U.S. state concocts phony terror plots to justify its imperialist wars in oil-rich parts of the world. Secret police and federal agents infiltrate mosques and Muslim, Arab, African and South Asian communities to frame and entrap young people and justify their bloated national security expenditures. Anti-Islamic bigotry led to the March 25 beating to death of Shamia Alawadi, a 32-year-old Iraqi mother who was found dying in her home with a note calling her a “terrorist” beside her body.
Police violence and spying are also on the rise against political protest. People taking part in the popular Occupy Wall Street and allied Occupy movements across the United States have been beaten, pepper-sprayed and arrested by police protecting the interests of the bankers and corporate tycoons.
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle, representing over 200 mass organizations in 43 countries, demands an end to police state violence in the United States. In particular we stand with the struggle of Black, Latino, Native and all people of color to live free of racist oppression and state terror! As our members in the United States march in the mass protests demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, we urge our member organizations around the world to stand in solidarity with people of color in the United States and demand an end to racist state oppression and police terror!
Certified and Issued by the Office of the Chairperson:
Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
09 April 2012