Police murder of George Floyd, ‘the spark that lit a prairie fire’

By the Joint Nationalities Commission, Freedom Road Socialist Organization

On May 25, 2020, the world watched in horror and anger as George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. This was the spark that ignited uprisings and massive protests across the United States and around the world. While a hated symbol of the police went up in flames, people from coast to coast were confronting the police, who tried and failed to repress the protest.

Again and again, America has sacrificed the lives of Africans and African Americans on the altar of profits. Millions of Africans died in the slave trade that provided the captive labor that enriched southern plantation owners and northern financiers on Wall Street. Even after emancipation, Jim Crow segregation bound African Americans to the land as tenant farmers, sharecroppers and farm laborers. This forged a new nation, the African American Nation, centered in the Black Belt South, a rich agricultural area reaching from Virginia to Texas.

But even as the African American freedom struggle broke the back of Jim Crow segregation, national oppression – the economic, political and social oppression of African Americans – continues. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of Black Americans: “Of the good things in life he has approximately one-half those of whites; of the bad he has twice those of whites.” To this very day, more than 56 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, African Americans have more than twice the poverty rate, and have less than half the medical doctors relative to whites. George Floyd was not the first African American killed by the police; the names of all the victims, from Breonna Taylor to Eric Garner are far too many, and almost all have not seen any justice in their cases.

The protests after the murder of George Floyd brought people of all nationalities, and many young people, into the streets. Just as the fight for Black liberation in the 1950s and 1960s sowed the seeds for militant Chicano and Latino, Asian American, Native American, women’s, and LGBTQ movements of the 1970s and beyond, so has the protest movement for justice for George Floyd ignited the same. That can be seen in the large protests by Asian Americans against the surge of anti-Asian violence, and Palestinian and other Arab Americans around the brutal Israeli bombing of Gaza.

The struggle of African Americans in the 1960s helped train early anti-war activists from the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The most recent upsurge in strikes by the U.S. labor movement happened in the 1970s, as the U.S. capitalists were on the defense against both people’s movements here in the United States as well as national liberation struggles abroad. The 1970s also saw the emergence of the modern environmental movement. We look forward to the future growth of the anti-war, environmental and labor movements as we fight against the same enemy: the richest of the rich the one percent, or the monopoly capitalists.

For decades, the ruling class has been taking more and more of the wealth of this country, leaving less for the rest of us. At the same time, more and more money has been poured into police departments, which are half the entire budget for cities across the country. The ‘war on drugs’ and ‘war on terror’ have gone hand in hand with more racist policing. At the same time ‘deaths of despair’ are rising and ravaging poor communities, both Black and white.

To do away with the national oppression that African Americans and other oppressed nationalities such as Native Americans, Chicanos and Latinos, and Asian and Arab Americans face, and the growing economic inequality and class exploitations of the working class, which most Americans belong to, socialism is needed. Every victory of the people, be it the conviction of Derek Chauvin for murder, community control of the police or legalization of the undocumented, is a step towards this goal. We are building revolutionary organization to order to achieve revolutionary change. We invite all of you who wish to fight for the people and struggle for socialism to join us.