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Minneapolis takes to the streets for International Human Rights Day

By Andrew Josefchak |
December 14, 2021
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Minneapolis marks Human Rights Day.
Minneapolis marks Human Rights Day. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Minneapolis, MN - Despite a 12-inch snowfall, more than 60 people marched in recognition of International Human Rights Day in Midtown Minneapolis, shutting down a major business thoroughfare on December 11.

The Anti-War Committee (AWC) united with the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), the Council for American-Islamic Relations – MN (CAIR-MN), the Climate Justice Committee (CJC), Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar Clark (TCC4J), Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), and the Minnesota branch of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to put on the event.

The ongoing trial of Kim Potter, the killer cop who murdered Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, weighed heavily on the minds of protesters. After speaking about how the human rights of Black Americans are regularly violated by the racist, violent, police thugs, Loretta Van Pelt of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar led the crowd in chanting Wright’s name. The police are regularly used to repress activists of all stripes, and Kat Lewis of the CJC insisted, “It is a human right to defend your environment and be politically active without being punished with incarceration, threat of violence or death.” She detailed her own experiences with police repression as a water protector fighting back against the Line 3 oil pipeline, summarizing the experience as “feeling like I had been kidnapped.” She described being deprived of medication and her legally-mandated phone call, not being told where she had been detained, and being provided nothing but spoiled food for several days, all for protesting the destruction of indigenous land and fighting for indigenous sovereignty.

Siobhan Moore of SDS insisted that the U.S. doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it criticizes other nations for their “human rights violations,” stating: “When it comes to the rest of the world, the U.S. government seems to have a lot of things to say for a country trying to ban abortion and curtail women's and trans folks' rights. When the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, a lot of noise was made about women's rights there, how the U.S. needs to sanction Afghanistan and start the war all over again. It takes only a second of critical thinking to know that everywhere U.S. militarism and war goes, the situation for women and trans people gets worse. If our government is so worried about women's rights, why don't they focus on protecting women's and trans rights in the U.S.?”

The reality is that the U.S. uses these supposed concerns for human rights to put a friendly face on its imperialist projects around the world, and the ruling class of professional politicians and big capitalists do not want people to wake up to what’s really going on.

Erin Stene of the AWC drew attention to how Israel, the largest single recipient of U.S. financial aid, an important military ally of the U.S. in the Middle East, and itself a supposed champion of human rights, has recently criminalized six Palestinian civil society groups by designating them as terrorist organizations.

Stene stated, ”These six organizations relentlessly demand the Palestinians’ right to life, resistance and dignity. They are on Israel’s radar because they call out Israel by documenting all human rights abuses and international law violations that Israel commits against the Palestinian people. Israel is committed to persecuting Palestinians and Palestinian organizations who shine light on what Israel really is: a racist settler-colonial and apartheid state.”

International Human Rights Day is an opportunity for activists in a variety of fields of organizing to come together to highlight how all our struggles are deeply interrelated. War leads to environmental devastation – speaking for CAIR-MN, Jaylani Hussein noted that the tornadoes that ripped through a Kentucky factory that same morning, killing at least 70 people, were a direct result of the U.S. war economy – and this environmental devastation overwhelmingly affects people of color. The same legal system that protects racist killer cops is used to deprive women and trans people of their rights, and the same ICE cops who deport immigrants are sent to brutalize Line 3 protesters in northern Minnesota. All of these struggles are tied up in a knot, but by recognizing these connections and uniting around those common struggles, we can cut that knot.

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