On November 12, 2013, the states of Florida and Texas each carried out a legal execution, implementing the death penalty for Jamie McCosky and Darius Kimbrough, respectively. The execution in Texas was the 15th of the year.
Less than a week later on November 19, a white jury in Tampa, FL took less than an hour to decide that Dontae Morris, a 28-year-old African, should be sentenced to death for allegedly resisting and killing two Tampa cops.
Although the execution of McCosky warranted no more than five sentences in the local bourgeois newspaper, and the Orlando Sentinel could only spare two sentences to report on the state-sponsored murder of Kimbrough, we feel it is important to devote space in Uhuru News and The Burning Spear newspaper to these events because we recognize that the death penalty itself is a tool of colonial genocide used to control and contain the potentially insurgent African population within the United States.
In a resolution voted on by the African People's Socialist Party at the 5th Congress in 2010, we wrote: “The death penalty is another vicious tool of class oppression that expresses itself most sharply against colonial subjects, especially Africans.”
The death penalty is an extension of the centuries-old American tradition of anti-African lynchings that raged throughout the U.S. in the early 1900s where the U.S. government and general white population hanged thousands of African people from trees, as documented in the book “One Hundred Years of Lynching.”
Not a single white person was charged with murder for the thousands of lynchings of Africans that took place in broad daylight in open sadistic festivals of violence to which white families would bring their children and cheerfully pose for photographs with the tortured body of the African victim.
Today, the gallows have been replaced by the mechanism of lethal injection. The white mob has been replaced by the jury. The system and the relationships it protects remains intact.
This parasitic capitalist system born from the mass oppression, enslavement and colonization of African people and genocide against the Indigenous people of this land can only live if it is fueled by continued death and destruction imposed by colonialism on the oppressed colonial subjects themselves.
The constant threat of death is used to demoralize the African nation
The genocidal death penalty has always been a tool of colonial oppression in the U.S. In fact, it was the supposedly heroic white president Abraham Lincoln – the one we are told who “freed the slaves” – who presided over one of the largest mass lynchings in U.S. history, in which nearly 40 Indigenous men were hanged on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota.
The death penalty is also deployed as a weapon of counterinsurgency against the African Revolution and its proponents such as Mumia Abu Jamal, the prominent African journalist and former Black Panther Party member whose death sentence ruling was overturned last year as a consequence of African mass mobilizations. Mumia was accused of killing a white colonial cop in Philadephia.
According to a study conducted by law professor David Baldus and statistician George Woodworth, the odds of receiving a death sentence are nearly four times higher if the defendant is African.
Baldus and Woodworth's study is one among thousands that have been conducted to examine the relationship of the death penalty to the factor of “race.” Over 96 percent of these studies proved that Africans were the primary targets of the death penalty.
In 1990, an African named Clarence Brandley was sentenced to death for the alleged murder of a white girl. Bradley and a white suspect were both accused. Before the sentencing, a white Texan cop said to Bradley: "One of you two is gonna hang for this. Since you're the nigger, you're elected."
In 1986 a white judge presiding over an African defendants' trial openly referred to the parents of the defendant as “niggers” before concluding, “Why don't we go ahead and do the penalty phase today instead of having to subpoena them back at cost to the state.” The African, Anthony Peek, was sentenced to death. The trial went to the Florida supreme court after Peek rightly claimed that he was being targeted because he was African. The Florida supreme court upheld the death sentence.
During a 1997 electoral campaign for Philadelphia district attorney, it was revealed that one of the candidates had produced a training video for prosecutors instructing them to exclude young African women from the jury and that “blacks from low-income areas are less likely to convict.”
Researchers at the University of Louisville found in 1995 that, as in other states, Africans who were accused of killing white people were more likely to receive the death penalty than any other offender-victim combination.
100 percent of the inmates on Kentucky's death row in 1996 were there for allegedly killing a white person, and none were there for the murder of an African, despite the fact that there have been over 1,000 Africans murdered in Kentucky since the death penalty was reinstated
In Utah, an African man named William Andrews was executed despite the presence of a note found by a juror depicting a stick figure on a gallows with the inscription: "Hang the Niggers,” an image and caption which perfectly capture the true character of the death penalty's relationship to African people.
The African People's Socialist Party calls for an end to the genocidal death penalty. It is not good enough to simply condemn each death sentence on a case-by-case basis. Every African locked down in the U.S. prison system is a political prisoner.
Regardless of the so-called “crime” attributed to the African in the prison, there is never a scenario in which the white oppressor nation state power has the moral or political authority to imprison or execute one of our people.
Moreover, life without parole is a death sentence. Life in general under a colonial system of foreign domination is a death sentence.
In many cases it does not even require a jury or a trial for an African life to be destroyed by this system.
As Omowale Kefing wrote in the 2012 October issue of The Burning Spear newspaper, “The vigilante attacks on Trayvon Martin and Eric Oliver in Florida; the police murders of Oscar Grant and Lovelle Mixon in California; the police murders of Imam Lugman Ameen Abdulla and 7-year old Ayana Jones in Michigan are but few of the attacks on our people that is reminiscent of the old 'nigger-knocking' days of what we thought of as the past.”
The genocidal death penalty must go. The prison system must go. We must build the revolutionary mass movement of the African workers and peasants united under revolutionary leadership in the struggle to tear down the prison walls, smash the death penalty and liberate and unify our African nation dispersed across the planet by the system of colonial slavery.
Kill the Death Penalty!
Victory to the African Liberation Movement!
Take the 6th Congress of the African People's Socialist Party to the Streets!