Category Archives: Police

Fans On Colin Kaepernick’s Statement That Modern Police Forces Derive from Slave Patrols: He’s Right!

Amid news that a Minnesota police officer was acquitted of manslaughter in the killing of Philando Castile, actor Michael B. Jordan and free-agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick have weighed in — and the latter has made a damning declaration.

Jordan posted on Instagram a list of several Black men and women who have been killed at the hands of police without a conviction.

“They want us to feel helpless & right now I feel it,” he wrote Saturday, June 17, before posting a list of questions wondering how to tackle the issue. “I know I’m going to be a part of the change, and not just today, every day until we see real change … I am Philando Castile.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVddgPNBosX/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7&wp=640#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A1346.63%7D

Castile’s girlfriend streamed the aftermath of Officer Jeronimo Yanez shooting the motorist after he reached to show Yanez his gun registration. Castile bled out in front of his girlfriend and her daughter and outrage poured in from around the nation.

Kaepernick looked at the historical implications of yet another police officer being acquitted over the killing of a Black person, comparing present-day cops to the slave patrols first developed in Carolina colony in 1704, according to Victor E. Kappeler, Ph.D. professor at Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Justice and Safety.

View image on Twitter

A system that perpetually condones the killing of people, without consequence, doesn’t need to be revised, it needs to be dismantled!

I think @Kaepernick7 has done a lot of good. Comparing cops to the slave patrol is where he loses me. No better than wearing the pig socks.

More from A Moore/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Ex-Seattle Police Chief Condemns Systemic Police Racism Dating Back to Slave Patrols

On Wednesday, President Obama met at the White House with law enforcement officials and civil rights leaders. President Obama hosted the meeting one week after the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and the killing of five police officers by a sniper in Dallas. While the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile made national headlines, they were not isolated incidents. According to a count by The Guardian, at least 37 people have been killed by police in the United States so far this month. That’s more than the total number of people killed by police in Britain since the year 2000. Overall, police in the United States have killed a total of 585 people so far this year. We speak to former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, author of the new book “To Protect and to Serve: How to Fix America’s Police.”

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: On Wednesday, President Obama met at the White House with law enforcement officials and civil rights leaders. President Obama hosted the meeting one week after the police—fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and the killing of five police officers by a sniper in Dallas.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The roots of the problems we saw this week date back not just decades, date back centuries. There are cultural issues, and there are issues of race in this country, and poverty and a whole range of problems that will not be solved overnight. But what we can do is to set up the kinds of respectful conversations that we’ve had here, not just in Washington, but around the country, so that we institutionalize a process of continually getting better.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: While the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile made national headlines, they were not isolated incidents. According to a count by The Guardian, at least 37 people have been killed by police in the United States so far this month. That’s more than the total number of people killed by police in Britain since the year 2000. Overall, police in the United States have killed a total of 585 people so far this year.

AMY GOODMAN: After Wednesday’s summit, President Obama said the nation is “not even close” to resolving issues between police and the communities they serve.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We’re going to have to do more work together in thinking about how we can build confidence that after police officers have used force, and particularly deadly force, that there is confidence in how the investigation takes place and that justice is done.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, our next guest writes, quote, “American policing is in crisis. … Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are two of the most recent casualties in what has become a deadly epidemic.” It may surprise you to learn who wrote those words—not a Black Lives Matter activist, but a former big city police chief. Norm Stamper is the former police chief of Seattle, Washington. He joins us now from Los Angeles, California. His new book, To Protect and to Serve: How to Fix America’s Police. He recently wrote an article for Time magazine called “Police Forces Belong to the People.” His previous book headlined Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing.

Norm Stamper, welcome back to Democracy Now! As you look at what happened in the last week alone, not to mention what has happened in the years since you were the chief of police in Seattle, what are your comments about how police are trained to deal with communities of color?

NORM STAMPER: You know, the training of police officers is a very prominent theme in the conversation about police reform, and it’s, of course, very, very important. But there are much deeper and important issues, as far as I’m concerned, namely those associated with the institution itself, the structure of the organization, the culture that arises out of that structure. It’s paramilitary. It’s bureaucratic. It insulates and isolates police officers from the communities that they are here to serve.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So what would you say, Norm Stamper, are some of the systemic problems of police violence? And what do you think has led to—you referred to the paramilitary nature of the police forces now. What do you think accounts for that?

NORM STAMPER: I think what accounts for it—there are several factors, one of which is that in 1971 Richard Nixon famously proclaimed drugs public enemy number one—drug abuse—and declared all-out war on drugs, which was really a declaration of war against his own people. And overwhelmingly, young people, poor people, people of color suffered, and have continued to suffer over the decades as a result of a decision to put America’s front-line police officers on the front lines of the drug war as foot soldiers. And then we wonder why there’s such a strain in the relationship between police and community, and particularly those communities that are entrenched in poverty and other economic disadvantage, communities that historically have been neglected or abused or oppressed by their own police departments. So we really intensified and escalated the country’s war against poor people with that drug war. And we have spent $1.3 trillion prosecuting that war since the 1970s, incarcerated literally tens of millions. Please hear that figure: tens of millions of disproportionately young people and poor people and people of color. What do we have to show for it? Drugs are more readily available at lower prices and higher levels of potency. It’s time for us to end that drug war. That began the militarization of policing, without a doubt.

9/11 is another milestone, for obvious reasons. The federal government began throwing military surplus at local law enforcement agencies, such that, in terms of how they look, in terms of how they’re equipped, in terms of how they are weaponized, America’s police forces look more like the military than domestic peacekeepers.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to remarks made by the New York police commissioner, Bill Bratton, who was speaking Sunday on Face the Nation.

COMMISSIONER BILL BRATTON: Police officers come from the community. We don’t bring them in from Mars; they come from the communities they police. And over the years, increasingly, we’ve had much more diversity in policing—Muslim officers, increasing numbers of African-American officers, Latino officers. And that’s a good thing, because the community wants to see that. And that’s part of the way we bridge the divide that currently exists between police and community, a divide that has been closing and a divide that we hope, over time—and certainly here in New York, I can speak for our efforts here the last several years, myself and Mayor de Blasio—to not only bridge the divide, but to close it.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. Your response?

NORM STAMPER: Our police officers do, in fact, come from the community. As Bill Bratton said, they don’t come from Mars. They are of us. They live among us. They are motivated by a variety of different interests in becoming a police officer. It’s not that—that the candidates that we’re selecting, necessarily, are poor candidates. It is what happens to them when they get acculturated by this law enforcement structure that makes it clear to them that they are on the front lines of a war against their own people. And so you get police officers heading out to put in a shift who are feeling that the people are the enemy.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I want to turn to Republican Senator Tim Scott, who spoke on the floor of the Senate Wednesday about being the victim of racial profiling. Scott is one of only two African Americans in the U.S. Senate.

SEN. TIM SCOTT: In the course of one year, I’ve been stopped seven times by law enforcement officers—not four, not five, not six, but seven times in one year—as an elected official. Was I speeding sometimes? Sure. But the vast majority of the time, I was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood, or some other reason just as trivial.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was Republican Senator Tim Scott speaking Wednesday. So, Norm Stamper, can you respond to what he said, and also whether you think the police is plagued with systemic racism?

NORM STAMPER: Well, let me start with that question. The short answer is yes. I can also cite another example closer to home for me. A former King County executive, Ron Sims, African-American man, man of the cloth, spoke to a reporter recently and said, “I have been stopped eight times by the police. And invariably the question seems to be ‘What are you doing here?'” Do white members of our community get that kind of treatment? In blunt terms, it is racist. It’s a racist action on the part of an officer, if he or she does not have reasonable suspicion that a person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime. That’s what the law says. And yet that law is systematically defied by police across this country in unlawful search-and-seizure, stop-and-frisk situations.

But there’s also systemic racism. It goes back as far as the institution. And I know President Obama made reference to the long history, the centuries-old history, of the relations between police and community, and particularly communities of color. Policing in this country has its origins in the slave patrols. And from decade to decade, generation to generation, there are still police officers in this country who act with superiority, who act in a very authoritarian, very dominant way. Part of that is their training, and only some of that, by the way, takes place in the academy. Most of it takes place in the locker room or in the front seat of a police car, when the senior officer tells the junior officer, “Forget what they taught you in the academy. You’re in the real world now.”

From DemocracyNow

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Philadelphia Officers Are Illegally Searching Young Black Men’s Underwear

Philadelphia police officers have been stopping young Black men and illegally searching their underwear for years, according to the ACLU, which sued the city in 2011 over its stop-and-frisk policy.

After reading a May 25 article about two young men who were victims of the invasive searches, Asa Khalif and six other protesters stood outside the Philadelphia Police Department for hours on May 31 handing out underwear to the officers. According to Khalif, the activists settled on this particular action to drive home the point of how perverted it is to purposefully — and illegally — search somebody’s underwear.

“It encouraged a lot of people to come forward who have been in the situation to file a complaint and tell their story from the protest,” Khalif said. “I know it’s very difficult being a Black male having that image of being ‘stopped and frisked,’ especially when you’re young trying to figure out who you are as an individual.”

Khalif made sure the unusual and unprecedented protest was recorded in order to ensure that this gross violation of Black men’s human rights and dignity did not go undocumented.

 “This is a new generation of activist and we are not going to do business as usual, because we will confront you, put our bodies on the line at this point,” Khalif said, adding that modern-day activists like himself and the BLM movement were inspired by past civil rights leaders and the Black Panther organization.

“We will sacrifice that just to make sure to get change from how law enforcement treats Black and brown people.

Khalif said many of the young men who have been victims of the violation are now in therapy to deal with the emotional fallout.

By Desmond Andrews/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

US: Congress Should Reject ‘Back the Blue Act’

Would Shield Police From Accountability, Not Protect Them

Police in riot gear block a roadway to stop demonstrators from entering a neighborhood as they protest the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., September 25, 2016.

Police in riot gear block a roadway to stop demonstrators from entering a neighborhood as they protest the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., September 25, 2016.

© 2016 Reuters

(Washington, DC, May 23, 2017) – Congress should reject a bill that would severely reduce the ability of people in the United States to hold police officers accountable for abuses, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The bill would also reduce incentives for police agencies to prevent rights violations.

The Back the Blue Act of 2017 (SB 1134/HR 2437) was introduced on May 16, 2017, by Senator John Cornyn and Representative Ted Poe, both of Texas. It proposes to significantly weaken a key rights protection statute, Section 1983 of the US Code, by limiting the ability of victims of illegal and unjustified police violence to receive compensation for harm. Specifically, the bill would limit liability in situations in which the victim had had some involvement with a felony or “crime of violence,” including property damage. Police are already protected from liability if the use of force is justified. Section 1983 lawsuits have been a primary way for ordinary people to hold police and government officials answerable for violations of their rights. They have also provided an important incentive for police departments to prevent abuses by their officers.

“This bill would not protect police officers from danger,” said John Raphling, senior criminal justice researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Instead, it protects police departments from accountability, and removes important incentives for those departments to monitor themselves and improve the quality of their policing.”

In addition to limiting the right to recover damages inflicted by unjustified police violence, the bill would make all assaults on police officers, even very minor ones, federal crimes subject to severe mandatory minimum sentences. Such mandatory minimums prevent judges from using their discretion to ensure that sentences are reasonable and proportionate to the gravity of the offense committed. The bill would also expand the federal death penalty to cover police killings, even in states that choose not to impose death as punishment under state law, while removing certain habeas corpus and other legal protections that are essential to preventing wrongful convictions and executions.

“Under the guise of protecting officers, this bill would make police less accountable, which can only undermine their legitimacy with the communities they serve,” Raphling said. “Congress should reject this dangerous bill.”

From Human Rights Watch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Mandatory minimum sentences are cruel and ineffective. Sessions wants them back.

As a federal prosecutor and judge, we saw that these policies do not work.

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed the nation’s 2,300 federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges in all but exceptional cases. Rescinding a 2013 policy that sought to avoid mandatory minimums for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders, Sessions wrote it was the “moral and just” thing to do.

Sessions couldn’t be more wrong. We served as a federal prosecutor and a federal judge respectively. In our experience, mandatory minimums have swelled the federal prison population and led to scandalous racial disparities. They have caused untold misery at great expense. And they have not made us safer.

Mandatory federal drug sentencing is unforgiving. A person with one prior drug felony who is charged with possession of 10 grams of LSD, 50 grams of methamphetamine, or 280 grams of crack cocaine with intent to distribute faces 20 years to life. With two priors — no matter how long ago they occurred — the penalty is life without parole.  As one federal judge has written, these are sentences that “no one — not even the prosecutors themselves — thinks are appropriate.”

They waste human potential. They harm the 5 million children who have or have had a parent in prison — including one in nine black children.  And they wreak economic devastation on poor communities. Studies have found, for example, that formerly incarcerated employees make 10 to 40 percent less money than similar workers with no history of incarceration and that the probability of a family being in poverty increases by almost 40 percent when a father is imprisoned.

Still, in 2003 then-Attorney General John Ashcroft pushed line prosecutors to charge mandatory minimums whenever possible. His policy helped grow the federal prison population from 172,000 to nearly 220,000 over the next 10 years.  This was part of a wider national trend that grew the country’s incarcerated population to 2.2 million, almost 60 percent of them black and Latino.

In 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder recognized that this system of mass incarceration was at odds with the Justice Department’s values. He told attorneys to reserve the most severe penalties for the most serious offenses. That meant charging cases in a way that would not trigger mandatory minimums for a specific group of defendants: nonviolent, low-level drug offenders, with no ties to gangs or cartels, no involvement in trafficking to minors, and no significant criminal history.

Holder’s policy was part of an emerging criminal justice reform movement. Since 2009, more than half the states have passed legislation to relax mandatory minimums and restore judicial discretion — including deep-red GeorgiaLouisianaMississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. A new crop of prosecutors is openly questioning the use of long prison terms for minor drug crimes. And a bill to ease federal sentencing has bipartisan support in Congress.

Sessions is bent on reversing this progress.

It would be one thing if Holder’s reform efforts had failed — but they did not. The federal prison population fell for the first time after 40 years of exponential growth.  It is down 14 percent over the past 3½ years. While we need a wider conversation about how we sentence all offenders, including violent offenders, state and federal, this was a start. The 2013 policy sent a message about the need to be smart, not just tough, on crime, and the role of prosecutors in that effort.

Sessions’s assault on the past few years of progress might also make sense if mandatory minimums for minor drug offenses were necessary to combat crime — but they are not. A 2014 study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that defendants released early (based on sentencing changes not related to mandatory minimums) were not more likely to reoffend than prisoners who served their whole sentences. That is, for drug charges, shorter sentences don’t compromise public safety. Indeed, research shows it is the certainty of punishment — not the severity — that deters crime.

Sessions’s fixation on mandatory minimums might also be more palatable if they were cost-effective — but they are not. Federal prison costs have ballooned to $7 billion, more than a quarter of DOJ’s budget, driven by a population that is nearly half drug offenders.  And yet as detailed by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council last year, most experts believe that expending public resources to incarcerate these offenders is profoundly inefficient.

Sessions’s defenders will say his policy only requires prosecutors to charge the defendant’s true conduct and apply the statutes Congress enacted. But floor statements from legislators show that Congress intended these mandatory minimums to be used against “kingpins” and “middle-level dealers,” not the minor offenders to whom they have been applied.

One of us served as a federal prosecutor under Holder and had mandatory minimum charges at his disposal. The message from the top down was that prosecutors were to pursue justice. Winning did not mean getting the longest sentence possible. It meant getting the right sentence, one that fit the crime and that respected the interests of victims, defendants, and the public.

The other of us served as a federal judge for 17 years, including during the heyday of the Ashcroft regime. She believes that roughly 80 percent of the sentences she was obliged to impose were unjust, unfair and disproportionate. Mandatory penalties meant that she couldn’t individualize punishment for the first-time drug offender, or the addict, or the woman whose boyfriend coerced her into the drug trade.

Under Sessions, prosecutors will be required almost always to charge mandatory minimums, however unjust. They will bind judges’ hands even when the facts cry out for more measured punishment. The result will be great suffering. And there is no good reason for it.

By Nancy Gertner and Chiraag Bains/WashingtonPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Mexican illegal immigrant population in US lowest since 2009 – study

A new report has found that the number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants residing in the US has been steadily decreasing over the past 10 years, and they no longer make up the majority of illegal immigrants.

The Pew Research Center released a report Tuesday that estimates the population of unauthorized immigrants living in the US to have decreased from its peak of 12.2 million during the recession in 2007 to 11.3 million in 2016.

For the first time, the population of unauthorized immigrants living in the US has fallen below the level in 2009, the end of the Great Recession, the report found.

Pew included immigrants who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas as unauthorized immigrants.

The report estimates the unauthorized immigrant population in 1990 was around 3.5 million, which grew to a peak of 12.2 million in 2007.

Since 2009, the report estimates the population grew by around 350,000 unauthorized immigrants per year, with 100,000 of those coming from Mexico.

It is estimated that 2016 was the first year since 2005 that Mexicans have not made up the majority of the unauthorized immigrant population.

Mexicans remain largest group among unauthorized immigrants in US, but now may no longer account for a majority http://pewrsr.ch/2pvCkcf 

Using data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and Current Population Survey through former President Barack Obama’s second term, the report estimated the number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants decreased from 6.9 million in 2007 to 5.6 million in 2016.

Their data showed Mexicans went from making up 57 percent of the unauthorized immigrant population to around 50 percent in roughly 10 years.

While the Pew report did not include any data from the Trump administration, it did note that policy changes on increased border protections under the current administration have accompanied a sharp decline in the number of apprehensions at the southwest border, according to data from the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

CBP data shows 16,600 apprehensions were made along the southwest border in March 2017, a 30 percent decrease from the previous month and a 64 percent increase from the same month in the previous year.

During Monday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border, despite the fact that border crossings have decreased, calling the wall “a permanent step that will extend beyond his presidency.

Just because you have a couple good months in a year, I think you want to make sure that you take prudent long-term steps,” Spicer said. “Eight years from now, the next President will have that wall in place to make sure that it doesn’t continue.

Pew also found that while the share of unauthorized Mexican immigrants has been declining, there have been a growing number of immigrants coming from other areas in the world, namely Central America and Asia.

Estimated authorized immigrant totals from Mexico declined during 2009-2015, but rose from Asia & Central America http://pewrsr.ch/2qaFLB4 

In 2015, the report estimates there were 1.8 million unauthorized immigrants from Central America and 1.5 million from Asia. Both of these populations have increased by around 200,000 since 2009.

The Pew Research Center also released a report earlier this month that showed federal law enforcement agencies have been making more immigration-related arrests and fewer arrests for other offenses, including drug, property and gun-related crimes.

Their data showed half of the 165,265 arrests made by federal law enforcement agencies in fiscal year 2014 were related to immigration, an increase of 22 percent from 2004.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Anarchism of Blackness

An activist rallies the crowd at the Young Gifted & Black Coalition march in Madison, Wisconsin, January 1, 2014. (Photo: Joe Brusky)

An activist rallies the crowd at the Young Gifted & Black Coalition march in Madison, Wisconsin, January 1, 2014. (Photo: Joe Brusky)

Present incarnations of an unfazed and empowered far right increasingly demand the presence of a real, radical left. In the coming months and years, the left and left-leaning constituencies of the United States will need to make clear distinctions between potentially counterproductive symbolic progress, and actual material progress. Liberalism and party politics have failed a public attempting to bring about real change — but there are solutions.

The Black liberation struggle, in particular, has long provided a blueprint for transformative social change within the boundaries of this empire, and it has done so due to its positioning as an inherently radical social formation — a product of the virulent and foundational nature of anti-Blackness in American society. Understanding the significance of this struggle, we can proceed through examinations of the past, present and future to build new movements, a strong and radical left, and political power that generates and inspires rather than disappoints.

The Failings of American Liberalism

The United States’ self-ascribed democratic traits have long been filtered through oppressive forms that the state insists are necessary. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are measured by the success of a capitalist system that only truly benefits a few. Meanwhile, everyone else is told to believe that our supposedly meritocratic chance at being one of those few beneficiaries is what makes us “free.” True, unfiltered freedom and deep democracy are far too revolutionary for this state, so radical and revolutionary critiques of systemic limitations are often dismissed as overly idealistic or a utopian fantasy. But it is in the midst of the real-life nightmare that is the Trump administration that we should now — more than ever — be dreaming and striving to achieve something better.

For many years now, American liberalism has been a bitter disappointment to many of those who somehow maintained faith in the democratic integrity of the two-party system. The Democratic Party has seemingly been the only choice for those who consider themselves progressives working for a better society, but the notion that social inequities will be solved through the electoral process was always naïve at best. The entrails of this system are lined with the far-right fascism that is currently rising and has been bubbling under the façade of liberal democracy at the expense of non-whites in a white supremacist society. A system predicated on the over-emphasis of “order” and “security” is primed for authoritarianism.

Genocide, enslavement and other forms of violence the empire inflicts have grown more tepid in their bluntness since this nation’s birth. Over time, the violence has been displaced and restructured by more insidious and invisible modalities of community destruction. The reservation, the prison system and austerity policies are just some of the negotiable forms of violence that liberalism has facilitated over time.

Over the past few decades, the United States has seen a shift in liberal politics leaving the Democratic Party in a completely compromised position. The emergence of the Tea Party, a populist surge in the Republican Party, alienated the more “moderate” establishment Republicans in favor of a more explicitly articulated bigoted takeover. The lack of a real response to this moment further enabled the rightward shift as a shaken liberal establishment only sought and attempted bipartisan negotiations with the more extreme elements commandeering the party. Instead of moving left, the Democratic Party pandered to the alienated “moderate” right as it had been for years, and facilitated this conservative shift with nearly every waking opportunity.

Bipartisan Delusions

Liberal support for the Iraq War, post-9/11 domestic policy and the foreign policy extensions of the War on Terror made clear the position of the Democratic Party. For “millennials” in particular, our generation has come of political age watching perpetual disappointments to this end. There has been no true left in the United States because the positioning of the Democratic Party is not one of stark opposition to the right. The messaging that suggests we should meet conservatives halfway and work on “both sides of the aisle” has comfortably consolidated a giant right-wing apparatus.

It seems fitting that at the end of the Obama era we would see a white supremacist Trump presidency, and that immediately following a Black president whose cabinet was outspoken about diversity and inclusion we would see a spike in right-wing hate group enrollment. And through the transition of administrations and the first wave of antagonistic legislation, there was neither sustained nor sustainable protection being planned by the party purporting to defend progress. That quiet has now manifested itself in a Trump administration filled to the brim with the worst of the worst: the absence of a real left has left so many vulnerable populations exposed and at the mercy of a plutocratic tyrant hell-bent on destruction.

After a spate of extrajudicial police killings, hate crimes and domestic terror incidents, the country is reeling. Black America has been reminded again and again that we are seen as a monolithic group of feeble-minded children to be chastised by the state for our own disenfranchisement and community disadvantage. If there is nothing to be offered that addresses the reparations Black America is owed on several fronts, then we should seek to secure these things ourselves through action.

Liberalism and Democratic Party politics are simply not working for Black people. The agenda of the liberal establishment is frequently not one that is in line with the everyday material needs of Black America. Despite the optics of change and the promises of a new day and the moral victories of “going high,” an old sun is rising on a white horizon. At this point Black people and all people of color across the United States will have to decide between securing real change and bargaining with bigotry for compromise.

Blackness and the Zone of Non-Citizenship

Societal fascism describes the process and political logics of state formation wherein entire populations are either excluded or ejected from the social contract. They are excluded pre-contractually because they have never been a part of a given social contract and never will be; or they are ejected from a contract they were previously a part of and are only able to enjoy a conditional inclusion at best.

Black Americans are the former: they are residents in a settler colony predicated upon the genocide of indigenous people and the enslavement of the Africans from whom they are descendants. Residents in the United States, as opposed to citizens of. Despite a Constitution laden with European Enlightenment values, and a document of independence declaring egalitarianism and inalienable rights as the law of the land, Black existence was that of private property. The Black American condition is perpetual relegation to the afterlife of slavery, and as long as the United States continues to exist as an ongoing settler project, in this afterlife Black people will remain.

As Hortense Spillers makes clear in her seminal work, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Story,” Blackness was indelibly marked and transformed through the Transatlantic chattel trade. European colonialism and the subsequent process of African enslavement — both as a profit-maximizing economic institution and an un-humaning institution — can be regarded as “high crimes against the flesh, as the person of African females and males registered the wounding.”

Crimes against the flesh are not simply crimes against the corporeal self: the wounded flesh, rather, was the personhood and social positionality of the African. The wounding is the process of blackening and necessarily of subjugation, a wound from which Black people and “Blackness” writ large have yet to recover. Black exclusion from the social contract is existence within a heavily surveilled and heavily regulated state of subjection. We are carriers of the coveted blue passport still trapped in the zone of citizen non-being. We are simultaneously subjugated and teased with promises of liberation via individualized neoliberal self-betterment and swallowing of a long-soured American Dream whilst choking back dissonances and forcibly reconciling irreconcilable double consciousnesses.

Whiteness has long sought to grapple with the existential threat posed by Black freedom. Black repatriation to Africa, or “colonization,” has long been floated as one potential solution. Founded in 1816 and driven by a variety of ultimately complementary motivations, the American Colonization Society helped to found the colony of Liberia in 1822. The abolitionist contingents within the society believed that because of the insurmountable discriminations free-born Black people and freedmen and their families experienced, Black people would fare far better organizing themselves in their African “homelands.”

Slaveholders within American society were concerned that the presence of free Blacks would inspire enslaved Blacks to revolt and thus compromise the stability (both economic stability and the stability of the anti-Black racial order) of the southern slaveocracy, and other openly racist members outright refused Black people the opportunity to integrate into American society. Others still were concerned that Black families would burden state welfare systems and that interracial labor competition would ultimately compromise wages for white workers.

A lesser known proponent of colonization was the “Great Emancipator” himself, Abraham Lincoln, who entertained a far lesser known and quickly abandoned plan for Black colonization in Panama — one decried by Frederick Douglass as “ridiculous” — which would also play a role in the expansion of American trade influence in the Caribbean. The “Back to Africa” project was subsequently taken up by Black thinkers like Marcus Garvey in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries following the failures of Reconstruction in the South, the first attempt to meaningfully extend citizenship to newly emancipated Blacks, to protect them from white supremacist violence and also the social and political disillusionment of Blacks who had migrated to northern states. It is no coincidence that interest in repatriation peaked during the period.

The major problem with both historical and contemporary repatriation-colonization programs is the means by which they fail to both provide reparation for historic violence and answer the perennial question of Black citizenship in the United States. Many or most Black people, including many descendants of enslaved Africans trafficked from the continent centuries ago, have no desire to return to an Africa that has never been their home in any material sense. Given plans to remain, Black people have organized in myriad ways to affect change and actualize varying conceptions of liberation in the United States. But as history has demonstrated, some vehicles for change and political advancement are more fickle than others.

The Anarchism of Blackness

Make no mistake: progress has been secured by Black people’s mobilization as opposed to a single political party. We are the ones who have achieved much of the progress that changed the nation for the better for everyone. Those gains were not a product of any illusion of American exceptionalism or melting pots, but rather through blood, sweat and community self-defense. Our organization can be as effective now as it has been in the past, serving every locality and community based on their needs and determinations. This much can be achieved through disassociating ourselves from party politics that fail to serve us as Black freedoms cannot truly be secured in any given election. Our political energy is valuable and should not all be drained by political cycles that feed into one another as well as our own detriment.

While bound to the laws of the land, Black America can be understood as an extra-state entity because of Black exclusion from the liberal social contract. Due to this extra-state location, Blackness is, in so many ways, anarchistic. African-Americans, as an ethno-social identity comprised of descendants from enslaved Africans, have innovated new cultures and social organizations much like anarchism would require us to do outside of state structures. Black radical formations are themselves fundamentally anti-fascist despite functioning outside of “conventional” Antifa spaces, and Black people have engaged in anarchistic resistances since our very arrival in the Americas.

From slave ship and plantation rebellions during enslavement to post-Emancipation labor and prison camps, to Harriet Tubman’s removal of enslaved peoples from the custody of their owners, to the creation of maroon societies in the American South, to combatting the historic (and present) collusion between state law enforcement and the Ku Klux Klan — assertions of Black personhood, humanity and liberation have necessarily called into question both the foundations and legitimacy of the American state.

So given this history, why do we understand Black political formations as squarely entrenched within liberalism or as almost synonymous with supporting for the Democratic Party? The reality of the afterlife of slavery shows that the updated terms of Black citizenship are still inextricably linked to the original sins levied against us from the moment of this nation’s inception. We are not able to escape a cage that has never been fully removed, though liberal fantasy would have you think we will have a dream or dignifiedly protest out of harm’s way.

The simple and increasingly realized reality is that mass protests, petitions and the over-exhausted respectable methods liberals tout as sole solutions have a purpose, but do not stop bullets — that is why Dr. King and many of their favorite sanitized “non-violent” protesters of yesteryear carried weapons to defend themselves.

Responding to This Neo-Fascist Moment

Liberalism cannot defeat fascism, it can only engage it through symbolic political rigmarole. The triteness of electoral politics that has been superimposed onto Black life in the United States positions Black people as an indelible mule for much of this nation’s social progression. Our hyper-visible struggle is a fight for all people’s freedom and we die only to realize that everything gained can be reversed with the quick flick of a pen. While liberalism takes up the burden of protecting “free speech” and the rights of those who would annihilate all non-whites, Black people and other people of color assume all of the risks and harms.

The symbolic battles the Democratic Party and its liberal constituents engage in pose direct existential threats to Black people because they protect esteemed ideals of a constitution that has never guaranteed Black people safety or security. The idealistic gestures with which liberalism defines itself are made at the expense of Black people who are not protected by such ideals in the ways institutional whiteness and even articulations of white supremacy are protected.

Constitutional amendments are contorted based on the state’s historical disregard for sustaining an active antagonism towards Black life. The First Amendment has been repeatedly trampled by militarized police trotting through Black neighborhoods. The Second Amendment has been shot down by countless state enforcers who have extra-judicially murdered Black people based merely on the suspicion they might have a weapon. The Thirteenth Amendment legitimized enslavement through mass incarceration and extended the practice into a new form of white supremacist rationalization and an old capitalist labor politic that still tortures us to this day. This fascist moment is neither ideologically new nor temporally surprising. It is an inevitability.

Anti-fascist organizing must be bold. The mechanisms working against us do not entertain our humanity: they are hyper-violent. They deal death and destruction in countless numbers across the non-Western world while turning domestic Black and Brown neighborhoods into proxies for how to treat sub-citizen “others.” The militarization of police, border regimes, stop-and-frisk and ICE are clear examples of how the state regards the communities it targets and brutalizes. At the very least, a conversation on self-defense that does not mistreat our survival as a form of violence is deeply needed. And it would be even better if such a conversation normalized anti-fascist organizing that prepared people for the possibility of a fight, instead of simply hoping that that day never comes and respectably clutching proverbial pearls at those currently fighting in the streets.

Everyone has a stake in the fight against fascism. It cannot be defeated with bargaining, petitioning, pleading, “civilized” dialogue, or any other mode of response we were taught was best. Fascists have no respect for “othered” humanities. Regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, religion, physical ability or nationality, there is a place for all of us in this struggle. We are always fighting against the odds because there is no respite in a perpetually abusive state. It can only function through this abuse, so we can only prevail through organizing grounded in radical love and solidarity.

Our solidarity must prioritize accountability, and it must be authentic. Strategic organizing of this sort, organizing where we understand the inextricable linkedness of our respective struggles, is our means of bolstering the makings of a cohesive left in the United States. The time wasted on dogma and sectarianism, prejudice and incoherence among leftists is over.

The sooner Black America in particular begins to understand our position as an inherently anarchistic element of the United States, the more realistically we will be able to organize. Moving beyond the misnomer of chaos, the elements that make us such are the very tools we should utilize to achieve our liberation. This burning house cannot be reformed to appropriately include us, nor should we want to share a painful death perishing in the flames. A better society has to be written through our inalienable self-determinations, and that will only happen when we realize we are holding the pen.

By William C. Anderson and Zoé Samudzi, ROAR Magazine | Op-Ed

Posted by The NON-Conformist