Dec. 1 — With the grand jury in Missouri refusing to bring any charges against the white police officer who gunned down unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, President Barack Obama has revealed his incapacity to address the African-American national question at a time of rebellion and mass demonstrations in Ferguson and other areas around the United States.
After the decision not to prosecute Wilson, Obama told a White House press conference that people should accept the grand jury decision. He later suggested that rebellion in response to this travesty of justice would be wrong.
Obama has announced no plans to visit Ferguson. A Dec. 1 announcement from the White House said the administration was convening meetings involving the latest upsurge in anti-racist demonstrations.
In contrast to the official hostility and indifference to African Americans facing state violence by the police, the masses in Ferguson went into the streets and have remained there. Their sense of anger spread immediately throughout the country, with mass demonstrations from coast to coast.
In the only rational response to the blatant killing of Brown and other victims of police violence, a determined, mass anti-racist movement has engaged in social media campaigns, civil disobedience and violent unrest across the U.S. The Obama administration’s Justice Department investigation into Brown’s killing has resulted in not one indictment or lawsuit against Wilson or the Missouri law-enforcement authorities who not only killed Brown and covered up the crime, but also engaged in the use of brutal force, employing militarized tactics to suppress protests.
World condemns U.S. ‘human rights racket’
Washington has accused the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Sudan, Syria, Iran and other states of human rights violations. Yet the administration has initiated no concrete programs to improve the plight of African Americans, particularly youth, who remain trapped in low-wage employment, joblessness, poverty and deadly racial profiling carried out by the police and the courts, leading to the use of lethal force and mass incarceration.
Perhaps the strongest denunciation of U.S. racism came from the DPRK, which blasted Washington for its role in passing a U.N. resolution condemning Pyongyang for alleged rights violations. The DPRK Foreign Ministry and Human Rights Commission statement on Nov. 28 said in part: “U.S. President Obama let loose a spate of irresponsible remarks that the U.S. is a country built by law and it is necessary to accept the decision of the judicial authorities, only to spark off bitter resentment among the protesters. Whenever an opportunity presents itself, the U.S. authorities bluster that the human rights of all people are guaranteed in the U.S. in a legal and institutional manner and only individual cases contrary to them occur sometimes.”
However, said the Korean statement, “individual human rights abuses are taking place one after another and have reached a systematic and wide-ranging and extremely grave phase. The occurrence of nationwide protests at present goes to prove that the U.S. human rights regime is beset with serious problems” and that “the U.S. president in his public appearance tried hard to justify the clear racial discrimination.”
The Russian foreign ministry said on Nov. 26: “The authorities’ actions make it clear that they chose to crack down hard on protests against police brutality and against a crime that went unpunished, despite being evidently racist in its nature. The scope of public outrage and the disproportionate reaction by law-enforcement bodies again confirm that this is not a separate incident, but a deep systematic flaw in U.S. democracy that has failed to overcome a deep racial rift, discrimination and inequality.”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine wrote Nov. 25: “This comes as no surprise; the United States’ legal system is historically and at present a perpetrator of massive violence and imprisonment against Black people, just as U.S. imperialism is such a perpetrator against people and nations around the world. As Palestinians, we are familiar with the injustice of colonial, racist courtrooms, mechanisms of a racist state, which sentences our people to prison en masse while wrapping the perpetrators of crimes, murders and genocide against our people in a cloak of ‘legality.’”
Richard Poplak observed Nov. 26 in a leading South African newspaper, the Daily Maverick, that videos of officers attacking protesters represented “an American city aping South African archival footage. It’s a reminder that in divided countries, with histories of institutionalized racism, reconciliation without actually reconciling … is not just impossible but a massive cover-up, a ruse used by power.”
Pivotal struggle in the U.S.
Until racism and national oppression are uprooted in the U.S., there can be no peace or security, let alone democracy. The slogan “No justice, no peace,” which arose during the Rodney King rebellions of 1992, maintains relevant.
The capitalist system still requires the superexploitation of oppressed peoples. As a result successive U.S. administrations have failed repeatedly over the last five decades to placate the African-American people through legislation, executive orders, token politicians and verbal platitudes.
What the rebellion in Ferguson indicates, along with the nationwide anti-racist demonstrations that have shut down shopping malls, downtown streets, highways, etc., is that African Americans remain in the forefront of the struggle for the genuine transformation of the U.S. into a non-racist society. Until that change is brought about, ongoing unrest will reach even higher levels of participation and seriousness.