By Julia Wright
As a member of our slavery-old abolitionist movement, I would suggest that a few elements about the Uvalde tragedy, still below the radar, would appear worth commenting on.
First, very few news reports have highlighted the importance of the fact that the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres were “sandwiched” in between the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. Celebratory backlash? This is not to be excluded. There will unfortunately be more.
Second, we would have liked to have learned more about the dynamics of family dysfunction that were able to produce the “madness” of the shooter. For instance, only one source to date has highlighted the fact that the shooter has a sibling, a sister who serves in the U.S. army. We are also told that the shooter’s dream was to be enrolled in the Marines “to be able to kill people.” Although these allegations will take substantiation, the mind boggles. One sibling kills legally in the name of U.S. predatory foreign interests and policy and for all we know has been commended — the other kills illegally with legal guns and is shot down dishonoring the family. The center does not hold.
Another factor we would wish to see further explored and quantified is the link between the culture of U.S. mass shootings within, and the tradition of foreign imperialist wars without, from Iraq to Afghanistan — and the “chickens coming home to roost” syndrome, as violence is recycled.
However, most importantly, the gift of the children of Uvalde’s testimony to us is historical and immeasurable. Not only are we front-row witnesses to how rightest pro-NRA spins are trying to misinform the truth about Uvalde, we are now realizing that the children who died in that barricaded room left behind a series of 911 calls that will make abolitionist history.
The courage of these children in the face of bullets to engage with those they were taught to reach out to in times of emergency has left a glaring, indelible trace of the rotten state of police narratives in the U.S.
This is a historical moment when the coup de grace has at last been given to the pervasive hold police narratives have long had, not only on our everyday lives but on our criminal justice system, our schools, our culture, our way of dying. The 911 outcries left by the Uvalde pupils make them the star witnesses for the prosecution against a law enforcement that un-protects and disserves with impunity and total lack of accountability and transparency.
We have long known that our movements for social justice are born of the initiative and example of the youth. Just as Maimie Till Mobley’s decision to let the world see the faceless, mutilated body of her lynched child [14-year-old Emmett Till] in an open casket sparked the civil rights’ movement, the tapes of the Uvalde children’s last 911 messages once released could spark a much needed human rights’ movement for a community police by the people for the people.
May not only the abolitionist movement but the whole nation listen to these children’s outcries as ultimate testimony to dismantle a culture based on racialized, predatory and elitist police narratives . . . at last.
The writer is the daughter of the African American novelist Richard Wright and a longtime advocate for the freedom of political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal.