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The whole damn system is guilty as hell! #Justice4Jamar

By Fight Back! Editors |
November 25, 2015
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The following editorial was distributed at the Nov. 24 protests in Minneapolis demanding justice for Jamar Clark.

“The whole damn system is guilty as hell!” has been chanted at anti-police brutality protests around the country, and at the occupation of the Fourth Precinct in North Minneapolis this past week. It was proven true in the streets of North Minneapolis last night when white supremacists shot five anti-racist protesters in cold blood.

Last night, masked, armed white supremacists showed up at the North Minneapolis Fourth Precinct protest encampment that has been going on for nine days now demanding justice for Jamar Clark, an unarmed Black man who was executed by the Minneapolis police. These masked white supremacists refused to identify themselves or say why they were there, so the protesters told them to leave and escorted them away, at which point the white supremacists shot five of the protesters. Those individuals who fired the guns are clearly guilty of a heinous anti-social crime. But why is the whole system guilty and not just those individuals?

For context, there is a long history of police collusion with white supremacists, including working closely with the KKK to try to terrorize Civil Rights protesters in the South in the 1950s and 60s. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover's slanders against Martin Luther King also gave a green light for his assassination.

Also in recent days, supporters of presidential candidate Donald Trump attacked a Black Lives Matter protester and Trump backed them up, giving another green light to physically attack the movement. Trump is a billionaire and part of the 1% who profit from the exploitation of African American, Latino and other oppressed nationality labor. Trump is well known for his anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim and anti-Black views.

With the shooting of Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, there are very legitimate questions about the police response on the scene when this happened: responding slowly, macing the Black Lives Matter protesters trying to help their comrades who had been shot and making mocking comments to the protesters. But that’s just one aspect of it.

Whether these armed white supremacist gunmen are working directly with people inside the system is another question that bears real investigation, based on some video footage and eyewitness reports of people who have been at the occupation and claim to have seen these men there before. Also their ability to shoot five people a block from the police precinct and then escape freely is rather remarkable.

But more than anything, what makes the system guilty is the wall of intransigence and silence for over a week, from Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Harteau on down, and the rabid ravings from the head of the MPD ‘union’, Bob Kroll. The armed white supremacists clearly interpreted this as a green light to commit this criminally anti-social act.

As the Fourth Precinct occupation has continued in the face of over a week of intransigence from the system, in recent days racist police supporters have gotten increasingly hostile online, spewing hundreds of messages leveling very chilling threats against groups and individuals that speak out for #Justice4Jamar. Activists have gotten threatening phone calls in the middle of the night, and harassing emails and Facebook messages. Pro-police social media pages point out organizations and individuals to attack and their supporters immediately oblige, spewing racist venom on command, with the clear intent to silence and intimidate those speaking out against police crimes and demanding justice.

So this shooting doesn't happen in a vacuum - it is enabled by the institutional wall of silence and lock-step that the system demands of its politicians and police in such a situation. It doesn't matter what Mayor Hodges personally thinks - she may be personally upset by what happened to Jamar Clark and she may find Bob Kroll distasteful but she has chosen to play her role as the leader of the system in Minneapolis, and keep her silence in the face of the MPD's execution of Jamar Clark for over a week. And she also failed to disagree with the police chief, police ‘union’ head, and media’s vilifying of protesters over the last week, which clearly these white supremacists took as a green light to attack the protesters.

After the murder of Jamar Clark, did Mayor Hodges and Police Chief Harteau speak out against the horror of the police executing an unarmed Black man, and say that they would make sure it never happened again? No, of course they didn’t, and won’t. This exploitative and oppressive system requires its political representatives to lock ranks behind its armed enforcers (the police) even in the face of the criminal state execution of an unarmed Black man. Hodges was able to position herself as a supporter of racial justice when she was a city council member and in her campaign for mayor. But now that she’s mayor she is playing her role in allowing the white supremacist policing system to roll along, and her intransigence this week to the Black Lives Matter demand to release the video footage of the Jamar Clark execution made the protesters’ entirely reasonable demands seem unreasonable.

The intransigence of city and police leadership is why the occupation was still going on after nine days and white supremacists had been whipped up into such a frenzy that they took their wild threats out of the cyber world and turned them into real bullets last night. The system's top representative’s intransigence to the protesters’ demands to see the video footage, and the police and media vilification of the protesters over the past week gave the violent white supremacists the signal that it was ok to attack. And they did. That’s why we say “the whole damn system is guilty as hell” and we need a new system.