U.S. surge in police and neo-fascist lynchings
Oppressed have right to fight ‘by any means necessary’, part 3
An “unwritten law” in the U.S. “dictates that nothing unusual is happening when 13 cops shoot 137 bullets at an apparently unarmed Black couple in Cleveland, a Black-run city,” writes Glen Ford, the executive editor of Black Agenda Radio. (Dec. 5)
“Community members charged the victims were lynched,” Ford reported.
Ford’s online commentary is headlined “Massacre in Cleveland: Lynch Law Was Never Repealed.”
“Less than two weeks before, in Jacksonville, Fla.,” Ford recalled, “a white man who didn’t like Black teenagers playing loud music at a gas station fired eight or nine shots at 17-year-old, unarmed, Jordan Davis, killing him.”
Armed killers of Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin both claimed the “right” to gun down these unarmed Black youths was “self-defense” under Florida’s “stand your ground” law — which has emboldened vigilante, death squad terror.
“Young Trayvon drew his last breath in time to be listed among the 120 Black people known to have been extrajudicially executed in the first six months of this year — one killing every 36 hours.”
The damning evidence of these executions was compiled by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in its report on the “Extrajudicial Killings of Black People by Police, Security Guards or Self-Appointed Law Enforcers,” posted online on July 9, 2012. The full report can be downloaded at mxgm.org.
This compelling study was the second produced for the “‘No More Trayvon Martins Campaign,’ demanding a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice.” It found that “sixty-nine percent of the lives lost belonged to people from the ages of 13 to 31.”
The online report states: “The corporate media have given very little attention to these extrajudicial killings. We call them ‘extrajudicial’ because they happen without trial or any due process, against all international law and human rights conventions.”
‘Institutionalized violence of white supremacy is intensifying’
The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement emphasizes that “this 6th month update proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the institutionalized violence of white supremacy is not only alive and well, but is, in fact, intensifying.
“To complete the picture, we must take into account the extrajudicial killings and other repressive policies directed at other targeted peoples and communities such as Indigenous peoples, Latinos, Arabs, Muslims, and immigrants.”
“Those few mainstream media outlets that mention the epidemic of killings have been … unwilling to acknowledge that the killings are systemic — meaning they are embedded in institutional racism and national oppression,” the report explains.
BAR Editor Glen Ford noted: “The report, compiled by a handful of people for the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, had to be pieced together from news clippings and other sources. That’s because there is no database on the extrajudicial killing of African Americans, a practice that is not considered a crime, based on America’s ‘unwritten law.’
“In fact, it’s treated even more casually than a sport — at least in sports they keep statistics.”
Ford concluded that Black anti-lynching organizer and journalist “Ida B. Wells kept statistics. She and a few colleagues tallied 3,436 lynchings of Blacks in the 33 years between 1889 and 1922. Eighty-three of the victims were women. Lynching reached its high-water mark in 1892, when 160 African Americans were slaughtered because of their race.
“That number will be far exceeded this year, at the rate the blood is flowing.”
CeCe McDonald punished for surviving racist lynch mob
CeCe McDonald — a 22-year-old Black (trans)woman — and her friends survived a white-supremacist attack by a racist mob on the streets of South Minneapolis. McDonald has been punished by sheriffs, jailers, prosecutor, judge and prison guards ever since.
McDonald’s web support site states: “Around 12:30 a.m. on June 5, 2011, CeCe was walking to the grocery store with some friends, all of them young, African American, and LGBTIQ or allied. As they passed a local bar, the Schooner Tavern, a group of older, white people who were standing outside the bar’s side door began hurling racist and transphobic slurs at them, without provocation.”
In the trial transcript CeCe McDonald testified that at least four or more white adults took part.
The website states: “When CeCe approached the group and told them that her crew would not tolerate hate speech, one of the women … smashed her glass into CeCe’s face. She punctured CeCe’s cheek all the way through, lacerating her salivary gland.” (supportcece.wordpress.com)
One of the neofascists, Dean Schmitz — a white man whose body was emblazoned with a swastika tattoo — was stabbed and died.
McDonald was the only person arrested that night.
Repressive show of state force against CeCe McDonald
After being arrested, her website states that McDonald “was briefly taken to the hospital where she received 11 stitches in her cheek. While McDonald was still suffering both physically and mentally from this traumatic incident, she was left alone in a room for three hours. She was then interrogated and placed in solitary confinement at the Hennepin County men’s jail.
“She spent the next several months in jail and had to wait almost two months between her initial doctors’ visit and a much-needed follow-up appointment.
“After her arrest, CeCe was quickly charged with second-degree murder. In short, she was prosecuted for surviving a violent, racist, transphobic attack.”
A Crime Library online article, posted Oct. 2, 2012, reports: “Prosecutors offered McDonald a deal: Rather than face trial for second-degree murder, she could plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter and serve just seven years in prison. She refused the plea bargain.”
The article added that on Oct. 6, 2011, “Prosecutors added a second charge of second-degree murder, this one ‘second-degree intentional murder.’
“Each of these two charges could damn her to as much as 40 years in prison if she were found guilty in court.”
The Crime Library article stated that McDonald’s lawyer and the Legal Rights Center charged that “prosecutors were retaliating for McDonald’s refusal to take a plea.” (trutv.com)
McDonald’s web support site points out that Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman — a white prosecutor “who describes himself as ‘the Michael Jordan of prosecutors’ — held the power to drop the charges against her.
“But in the face of powerful community demands to ‘Free CeCe,’ Freeman did not drop the charges: instead, he dug in his heels and escalated the attack against CeCe by adding an additional charge of second-degree murder.”
Crime Library notes: “Freeman continued to maintain that it wasn’t self defense. Schmitz wasn’t the one who’d hit McDonald with the glass, he pointed out. And nothing stopped McDonald from running away from the scene at any time.” (trutv.com)
Katie Burgess, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Trans Youth Support Network, said in April, “People were very enraged about what had happened to her and the refusal of Hennepin County to recognize her right to self-defense.”
Burgess continued: “And word has spread across the nation and across the world. We have seen local support from LGBT organizations and politicians and also national support from organizations such as the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. We have a petition that’s circulating with over 15,000 signatures asking Hennepin County to drop these charges.” (April 27)
She said that 44 percent of hate murders in the U.S. are committed against young trans women of color.
“And we would like to also point out the ways that this violence plays out in the courtrooms.” (democracynow.org)
Journalist Marc Lamont Hill wrote in an Ebony article: “The injustices of McDonald’s case continued inside the courtroom. Throughout the trial, the judge and prosecution consistently and intentionally misgendered McDonald, referring to her by masculine pronouns, further demonstrating a refusal to acknowledge her as a woman.
“Despite considerable evidence — including medical evidence, toxicology reports, eyewitness accounts, and unrefuted testimony that Schmitz initiated the altercation — McDonald’s self-defense claim was dismissed by prosecutors.
“Even worse, the judge ignored the fact that McDonald was the target of a hate crime, despite the racist and homophobic language used by Schmitz seconds before the fight began.
“The court even refused to admit Schmitz’s criminal record into evidence, not to mention the swastika tattooed on his chest, as evidence of his history of violence and bigotry,” Hill reports.
A May 22 article in Mother Jones points out, “The judge also ruled that the defense could not call an expert witness who would testify to transgender people’s experiences of violence in their everyday lives.”
Crime Library concluded: “Meanwhile, McDonald’s family and friends reported that they were being harassed by people connected with Dean Schmitz. They recounted threatening phone calls, and said that people they recognized from the Schooner Tavern had thrown bottles at them from a car” and yelled racist epithets. (trutv.com, Oct. 2)
‘By any means necessary’
It is always “legal” for ruling classes and their hired guns to attack and wage war against those they exploit and oppress. This same legal fiction deems it “illegal” for those who are oppressed and exploited to fight back.
The Emancipation Proclamation— signed Jan. 1,1863 — was necessary, for example, because the inhuman violence of the system of chattel slavery had been “legal.”
The Proclamation spelled out the right of Black people to self-defense. Yet McDonald was arrested for defending her life against white-supremacist attack, and later sentenced during the month of Juneteenth, a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation — the formal abolition of “legal” enslavement of peoples of African descent.
McDonald was sent to prison in June — the month when the Stonewall Rebellion ignited in the streets of Greenwich Village in 1969. From the Compton’s Uprising to the Stonewall Rebellion, defense against oppressions is a law of survival.
During the month of March, McDonald and her book club supporters read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” as told to Alex Haley. (supportcece.wordpress.com)
Black revolutionary Malcolm X spoke out repeatedly about the right to self-defense: “I’m nonviolent with those who are nonviolent with me.
“I don’t call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence.”
In a speech Malcolm X gave only weeks before being assassinated on Feb. 21, 1965, he told an interviewer, “We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” (Quoted in “By Any Means Necessary.”)