More often than not, when people talk about government sanctioned
killings, they generally refer to criminal court death penalty sanctions.
However, the other day, I heard guys talking out of their cells denouncing
the Syrian and Bahrain governments for the killing of citizen protesters.
As they were talking out of their cells, much of the talk was about how these
citizen protesters wanted a democratic system similar to the United States.
In the back of my mind, I was thinking: they can do better than that!
The United States is far from the ideal' government or representative of democracy. This is especially true when it comes to government sanctioned killings of citizen protesters. In fact, the U.S; has a policy of killing citizen protesters. More on that in a minute.
While the wholesale slaughtering of Syrian and Bahrain protesters is appalling, definitive cases of crimes against humanity, as those despots seek to hold onto power, we know that revolutions are often not without bloody sacrifices. Entrenched governments do not give up -power without a fight, employing police and military might to control and subdue the rebelling populace. A less bloody, but certainly violent example is Greece’s crackdown on its citizens, who are opposing the international economic austerity program imposed upon that country for continued membership in the European Union.
Here, in the United States, history has witnessed the National Guard being used to quell riots in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Newark during the 1960’s protests of racist police shootings; also, the National Guard killing of student protesters at Kent State University protesting the Vietnam War. Let’s not forget the police bombing of the MOVE family in Philadelphia or the Davidians in Waco, Texas. In each of these cases, the government employed bloody violence to preserve its democratic ideal of governance, prohibiting protest and opposition. The former H. Rap Brown, now imprisoned Jamil Abdul Al-Amin, famously said that “violence in America is as American as apple pie,” referring to U.S. government violence to quell riots and people fighting back.
During the 3 day protest at Attica prison in September 1971, 41 prisoners and correctional guards were murdered on the orders of then Governor Nelson Rockefeller, to quell a prison protest for humane prison living conditions. This outrageous wholesale murder of prisoners and guards, a government sanctioned killing, has virtually been forgotten by today’s prisoners in Attica. However, Attica prison administrators, to prohibit a similar prisoner protest, have instituted a policy of fear and terror tactics to keep prisoners towing the line, including brutal beatings. Although this year will be the 40th Anniversry of the Attica insurrection, the only commemoration will be held in Buffalo, New York by prison reform activists.
Given the history of racial violence by police against Black people (people of color) in the United States, in October 1966, the original Black Panther Party for Self-Defense came into existence. As a militant Black protest organization, the BPP recognized the need to defend itself. The BPP sought to use the existing laws of the time, open possession of weapons, to secure its political objectives. However, as a result of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s open possession of weapons, the California legislature changed the law to prohibit Californians publicly carrying weapons. This was a clear signal that American citizens, especially Black people, would not be allowed to defend themselves against government racist oppression/repression.
One year after the birth of the BPP, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover, denounced the BPP as the most dangerous internal threat to the security of the United States. J. Edgar Hoover instructed the FBI to implement a then secret directive called Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro) to “neutralize” the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. As a result of Cointelpro, approximately 33 Panthers were killed, the most famous being BPP Lil Bobby Hutton in Berkeley, California and Fred Hampton, in Chicago, Illinois, both murdered by police in government sanctioned killings.
Since then, it is reported nearly 500 young Black men in America are killed by police annually. Over 50% of America’s prison population comprises Black men, further exacerbating a policy of racial violence against Black people in America.
Unfortunately, the majority of Black people, including their appointed, imposed and assumed leaders, have failed to recognize the violent dynamic racist policy directed at Black people in America. They have drunk the kool-aide of American democracy, and the false belief this government will not engage in overt genocidal decimation or killing of its alleged citizens.
The prisoners talking out of their cells, like the majority of Black people in this country, are sorely deluded. As Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., once pronounced, historically “America is the greatest progenitor and harbinger of violence in the world.” As Malcolm X described, the guise of exporting and imposing democracy is nothing but “disguised hypocrisy.”
Stop Government Sanctioned Killings!!!
Jalil A. Muntaqim