In these lawless and insufferable times we often find those charged with upholding the Constitution mouthing platitudes about the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, their brilliance in establishing checks and balances to ward off tyranny and their commitment to equal justice under the law. Yet while these same Constitution-quoters are bathed in pomp and applause at a podium, others in their charge or under their influence suffer force-feeding, “humanitarian bombings” and incursions—in short, abuses that the Founders would rightly have thrown off. And then some.
The time’s lawlessness owes to the chief executive and attorney general of the United States publicly acknowledging the commission of crimes—including torture—while giving their predecessors a free pass on their accountability. This is the leitmotif of justice in 21st century America. Witness the wars of aggression, the treasonous manufactured pretense that forced the public’s consent for and the implementation of asymmetrical industrial warfare against civilian populations using internationally prohibited weapons. All of it, and no one held to account.
Until Ferguson we might have thought the use of those tactics would never be visited upon Americans, on American soil, by other Americans. But this would require omitting certain other Americans: African-Americans and people of color. Black Americans might ask themselves: If we are to emulate our vaunted Founders, what will it take for us to declare for ourselves:
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
—Declaration of Independence, 1776
It took the Founders 126 years to reach enough is enough.
Contrast this with human trafficking that was legal in the United States until 1865 – after which it has been repackaged through many iterations from Jim Crow to its current offering of a “felon” over a “slave” and preference for the word “thug” over “nigger.” At the end of another sad national week, Michael Brown’s body interred in the ground, word comes of another mentally challenged black man, Ezell Ford killed, this time by Los Angeles police. And of Chris Lollie, 28, waiting to pick up his children in a skyway in St. Paul, Minnesota, whose crime was breathing within black skin while waiting to pick up his children. He was met with “officers of the law” who determined that as a black human being he did not deserve to sit in a public space. He was personally violated by police, handcuffed and tortured by stun gun. Warning, the YouTube is graphic and heartbreaking.
Whatever else may be said of Africa-America, 395 years is—very—patient. Three times as patient as the Founding Fathers, to be exact. They would have thrown off such government and provided new guards for their future security three times by now.
How does one explain the totality of: mass incarceration of healthy young black males in their most productive years; their falling to state-sponsored murder coast-to-coast; the impoverishment of black wealth through wholesale thievery by corporate and banking foreclosures, and the militarization of police forces arrayed nationwide against black communities? Were these crimes against African-Americans committed in a theater of war they would rise to the level of genocide as defined by the United Nations.
The systematic and brutal execution of black men is illegal under domestic and international law. Under UN conventions this crime alone rises to the level of genocide as defined in international law under Article II:
…acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
a) Killing members of the group;
b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
The mass incarceration of black men and boys comports with part (d) of Article II. Genocide is typically used as a method of ethic cleaning and destruction. These crimes are also outlawed under Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”
There have been calls for the president and the attorney general to do something, anything big here. But those calls are misguided. Does anyone believe that neither of them had any idea there is industrial-scale, military deployment in the form of police forces across America? Does anyone seriously believe that both men are ignorant to the long litany of names of black men and boys who have been summarily executed by police across America?
Since the 1989 Supreme Court ruling in Graham v. Connor we don’t have lynchings per se in America anymore. We now enjoy the spectacle of the fraternal-order-of-police executing blacks and browns as sport and leaving their body unattended, as a trophy in the middle of the street, for 4 hours, at midday. The arbiters of the “reasonableness” of this bloodsport according to then-Chief Justice Rehnquist are confined not to “20/20 hindsight” but to what other cops would “reasonably” do in similar circumstances.
We need not guess what “reasonable” means. On average in the U.S. every 28 hours cops or vigilantes make the news with de facto killings of blacks and browns. According to the Washington Post:
“Justice Department statistics show that fewer than 8 percent of complaints of excessive force are upheld against police by their departments. In 2002, the period most recently analyzed, the department noted 26,000 complaints but only 2,000 in which police departments agreed the officer used excessive force.” [emphasis added]
In other words, 92% of all complaints of excessive force are rejected. The cops’ common defense is that the officers feel afraid for their lives.
Really? Then what are people of color expected to do when they feel fear for their lives at the sight of Terminator-cops, tanks, tripod automatic weapons, tear gas and dogs?
As Bruce Dixon reported, had the President and Attorney General of the United States ever complied with the 1994, Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act to keep statistics on such crimes we would now know precisely how genocidal the practice is but no president since the law’s passage has ever seen fit to comply. What has the current administration done in good faith toward the black agenda to make anyone believe we should appeal to President Obama on this issue? The president remains nowhere in sight of terrorist-cop-occupied black communities.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism… —Declaration of Independence, 1776
Evinces: reveal the presence of (a quality or feeling).
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations…reveals the presence of a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism…
We must now add “Code Black” to our national terror level alerts; Code Black for the racial profiling guaranteed to accost all young black and brown men in America; Code Black for the occupier’s terror campaign against blacks and browns; Code Black is the color of grief; Code Black is the coded language that says I thought he was going for a gun so it’s okay that he’s dead now; Code Black is the color Michael Brown’s blood turned after baking all afternoon on the summer blacktop in plain view of the neighborhood’s children. Code Black is the color of civil war.
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed… – John F. Kennedy, 1961 Inaugural Address
The soaring rhetoric of another white president invoking America’s revolutionary stripe.
We call on this president, Barack Obama, to declare a permanent cease-fire in all hostilities toward African-American communities including the withdrawal of all military personnel and equipment from urban centers. Like he did recently in discussing torture, President Obama needs to publicly acknowledge that the US government has gone too far in militarizing police forces nationwide. But beyond the need to dismantle this domestic military apparatus the president needs to address its underlying purpose—to instill fear—even to the extreme of killing our own citizens.
As a people we cannot solve a problem if we have not named it. In a word, the name for institutional mass incarceration, murder and the militarization of police forces is—racism. The people already know this. We know it in our guts. We know it by the blood of our children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, fathers and brothers, staining the streets. We know it as a gnawing absence in our soul. In Ferguson and across America the people are demonstrating that we will not be pacified by promises that amount to pretty lies. We will not be intimidated.
The president can take the lead and begin our long journey back from police-inspired mayhem. As an informed, intelligent and articulate leader he needs to see the blood on the urban street and know that by their brutality the occupiers have already been beaten—even if he is woefully late in coming to this recognition. This is as much harm as can be withstood. Withdraw the troops, the money and the materiel now.
End the Code Black reign of terror in America.