The US movement to fight anti-Black racism continues to grow on a global scale. Co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement Patrisse Cullors spoke in Manchester as part of a 10-day speaking tour across the United Kingdom and Ireland, organised by Defend the Right to Protest.
The Manchester meeting was hosted by the Hideaway Youth Project in Moss Side on 29 January. It was very lively and powerful.
Three Black youth from Manchester opened the meeting aged 14, 15 and 16 and spoke of the police harassment they have been subject to, but having been on a human rights course were able to stand up more effectively and confidently. Speakers Caroline Duggan and Janet Alder also spoke of their tireless fight for their family members who had been killed by the police. Akemia Minott, youth worker at the Hideaway Project said “they’re just an inspiration to anybody.”
Patrisse Cullors described the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, US and explained the relevance it has in Manchester and the UK as a whole.
She said: “In the UK you have a Black presence that is part of a colonial past and comprised of immigrants, in contrast to the blatant slave history in the US. But you still have systemic oppression, and state sanctioned violence plays a role in each of our contexts.”
In the US a Black person is killed every 28 hours
“We are in a historical moment where we can make great shifts inside and outside US borders to ensure that Black lives matter around the world.
“After the murder of Mike Brown, the protests continued. They were peaceful but police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Three weeks later over 600 people came to Ferguson from about 18 cities. A Black person is killed every 28 hours in the US. Killing Black people is a national epidemic.
“You need to know how much direct action has happened. The entire country of the US is on fire right now.
“We decided to do a week long action in 18 cities and each day we shut something down. We shut freeways (motorways) down in October and thousands came to Ferguson in October and there was one of the largest marches ever.
“Occupations of police departments started popping up across the country. The Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter decided to demand a meeting with the chief of police.
Because another Black man had been killed and we decided to occupy in order to demand a meeting with the police department until we had that meeting to discuss the killing. We occupied it for 18 days.”
Patrisse concluded, “They are well connected, we must be well connected.”
After the meeting Patrisse spoke at a rally in Derry, Ireland to commemorate civilians who were shot and killed by the British Army during a peaceful protest against internment in 1972.
From our International Workers League section, Workers Voice/La Voz in the US:
“In 2013, there were 10,000 more arrest warrants given out in Ferguson than there were actual people living there. For a town of roughly 20,000, this meant on average that there were 1.5 arrest warrants out for every single person in Ferguson. The payment of court fees and fines, as a result of these warrants, allowed the local government to collect $2.6 million in revenue – making it the 2nd largest source of revenue for the city.
“In New York City, where Eric Garner is from, nearly 5 million people have been stopped by the police in a program known as Stop and Frisk since 2002. 9 out of 10 of these people who are stopped are found to be innocent by the NYPD’s standards. Over half of the people stopped have been Black people. And this is a city whose Black population makes up roughly a quarter, 25%, of its total population. Therefore, roughly 2.5 million Black people have been stopped and frisked by the police, in a city whose Black population is about 2 million.”
The International Socialist League would like to conclude by expressing our solidarity with the family and friends of Michael Brown, Caroline Duggan, Janet Alder, and all families here and in the US who have become victims of police and racial attack. The ISL sends unconditional support to the demonstrations, occupations and all the struggles against racism and the killing of Black people in the US and UK.
Black lives matter!
No more Racism!
Stop all Police Brutality now!