‘From Ferguson to Gaza, we charge genocide’

The following message of solidarity was issued Aug. 19 by the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home coalition, which is organizing for the freedom of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.  

Those standing up against police brutality and state repression in Ferguson, Mo., are leading one of the most important human rights struggles of our time.

In the context of the history of Sundown towns in that region, which legislated that people of color had to leave white towns by sundown, the imposition of a curfew and deployment of the National Guard by the governor represents a racist suppression of the right to self-defense and a gross violation of the freedom of assembly. Its message is clear: The people most likely to rebel against injustice have to be controlled, their right to protest quashed, and the absolute power of the police state restored.

The militarized repression on display in Ferguson is a reflection of a world in crisis. Although separated by thousands of miles, the plight of the people of Ferguson and of the Gaza Strip shares too much in common for people of conscience to ignore. Michael Brown, an African-American youth, could just have easily been a Palestinian youth mercilessly shot by an Israeli soldier.

We understand that in both cases a long history of colonialism and racism justified land dispossession in Palestine and slavery in the U.S. That history is alive today with the continued gross economic deprivation of these communities and their isolation through universally enforced discrimination in housing. This pattern of ghettoization has been inflicted on both of these communities since the founding of the U.S. and Israel. The systematic exploitation, repression and targeting of these populations by the state has led and continues to lead to genocide. According to a 2012 study, a Black person is killed every 28 hours by the police, other security agency or individuals acting as the police. In Gaza, as of today, there have been more than 2,000 civilians killed from recent Israeli bombing attacks. If we take Gaza’s small population into account, this killing is proportional to double the entire population of Providence, R.I.

The same U.S. government policies that arm the State of Israel have also turned police departments across the nation into localized military garrisons armed with sophisticated weapons aimed at citizens. As one Palestinian youth tweeted recently, “Made in USA teargas canister was shot at us a few days ago in #Palestine by Israel, now they are used in ‪#Ferguson‬.”

This police onslaught in Ferguson is reminiscent of the assault that occurred in Philadelphia in 1985, when the police dropped a military-grade firebomb from a helicopter on the MOVE house. That police attack on Black people killed 11 MOVE members, including five children, and burned down 61 homes, destroying an entire African-American neighborhood.

Political prisoner and Black journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal is imprisoned today because during his youth, he exposed this kind of systematic police terror against the Black community. He stands in solidarity with Ferguson and Palestine, and we call for his immediate release.

At a moment’s notice, any of us could face the terror experienced in Ferguson or Palestine. A people subjugated by racist oppression have a moral right to resist.

In solidarity with the people of Ferguson, we call for:

1. The immediate arrest of Officer Darren Wilson and an investigation for justice with full community oversight.

2. Just reparation for the Brown family.

3. The withdrawal of the National Guard, the removal of the curfew and no-fly zones, and full media access to the area.

4. The disbanding of Ferguson’s racist police department and the re-appropriation of police funds for a massive jobs, housing and schools program for the residents of Ferguson.

In solidarity with the people of Palestine, we call for:

1. The right of return, the right to self-determination and the right to self-defense.

2. A free and independent Palestine.

3. A re-appropriation of U.S.-supplied Israeli military funds for an economic reparations program for Palestine.