As the struggle to get justice for the family of Trayvon Martin intensifies, it is important that the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) intervenes in this struggle so as to provide clarity as to what the real contradiction is that we are dealing with as a people. Moreover, by the power vested in us as the mass organization of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), the revolutionary Party for African Liberation, we have the responsibility to provide political leadership to the masses of people around this case and the way forward in solving the problem of colonial violence against Africans in the U.S. and worldwide.
This document will serve to both provide that ideological clarity and leadership necessary to advance our struggle for self-determination.
Racism is not the issue
Contrary to what the bourgeois colonial state and African middle class would want us to believe, Trayvon’s murder is not the result of “racism,” nor should it be justified under colonial laws such as the “Stand your Ground Law,” which, according to the State’s most recent interpretation of Florida's constitution, gave Zimmerman the right to murder Trayvon.
The reality is that Trayvon was murdered as a consequence of African people having no power. At the same time, African people live under the colonial oppression of white power. Therefore, our very lives are in the hands of the forces who wield such power — whether it is the police and other apparatuses of the colonial state, or members of the oppressor white population which collectively wields such power over our lives.
White colonial violence based in parasitism
White power and the capitalist-colonialist State in particular, were forged as a means of protecting a parasitic relationship that has always existed between the oppressor white nation and the African and other non-white oppressed peoples of the planet. This parasitic relationship has resulted in the ongoing theft of African resources and labor for over 400 years.
The wealth generated off this parasitism doesn’t only wind up in the bank accounts of the ruling class and the treasury of the U.S. government. This colonial loot is also distributed throughout the general white population in exchange for the white population’s participation in the ongoing colonial plunder of Africa and African resources.
Herein lies the essential basis for the killing of Trayvon Martin — which was informed by the general anti-African, or “racist,” sentiment that exists in the white community. Simply put, white people participate in the ongoing oppression of the African community in various ways because they know that such oppression is necessary for the preservation of the “American way of life,” i.e. the two-car garages in the suburbs, the promise of a college education, a good paying job and a healthy retirement package. The capital required to provide this material wealth for the general white population can be directly attributed to the colonial oppression and exploitation of Africa and African people.
Therefore, the colonial oppression of African people has been the historically shared responsibility of both the U.S. government and the general white population itself. During slavery, it was not only the police who assumed the responsibility of capturing runaway slaves and putting down rebellion. Mobs of regular white people played critical roles in that process.
The same can be said of the Jim Crow period. During this time, the political economy rested on the beginning stages of what is now the prison industry. During this period, convict leasing and sharecropping were the primary mechanisms through which African people in the South were kept in a parasitic relationship with the U.S. government, its ruling class and the general white population.
In this period, white people would form lynch mobs as a means of keeping the African community in a constant state of terror, thus serving to reinforce the order of that period of U.S. society — a society based on the colonial oppression and exploitation of Africans.
The colonial violence we suffered during the Jim Crow period was not only the contradiction for Africans in the South, but also in northern cities where the political economy was built off the same colonial oppression and exploitation of our people. In northern industrial cities like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, masses of African people were forced to work in slave-like conditions in the factories owned by the white ruling class of the capital-intensive sector of the U.S. parasitic economy.
At the same time, the police occupied the ghettos of these cities as a means of keeping the colonized African communities in check. White people united with the State in the colonial violence against Africans. This violence was motivated by the same parasitism that informed the violence of the colonial state.
While the police occupied the African community to control African labor and make it act according to the will of the white ruling class, the regular white population in northern cities engaged in violence against Africans as a means of repressing our ability to get organized for economic development and to maintain a different relationship with the white ruling class at the point of production.
Irish, Italians and Polish so-called “immigrants” all viciously attacked the African working class as a means of protecting their jobs and intimidating and frustrating the efforts being made by African workers to get organized in our own interests and even to struggle for better paying jobs that were traditionally reserved for white people. The Chicago riots of 1919 were one of many examples of such white colonial violence against Africans that were motivated by purely economic forces.
We consistently point out the economic basis of white nationalist colonial violence against Africans so as to further expose the fact that racism is not the issue. The issue is that African people in this country and worldwide have been separated from our resources by a colonizing power in the form of the United States. This theft of our resources was and is only possible through violence that comes down from the State itself.
The general white population has historically participated in this violence because it has historically received payment from the U.S. government and the white ruling class for doing so. Racism, the ideas in the heads of the white people who participate in such violence, is nothing but the ideological justification for parasitic capitalism.
When the white lynch mobs attacked Africans in the Chicago riots of 1919, they did not do so simply because Africans had the audacity to walk on the white section of the beach. They did so because the oppression of African people in every sphere of political, social and economic life was necessary for the preservation of white wealth and democracy. In fact, the idea of a white, higher quality section of the beach was but just one expression of the justification of the oppression and exploitation of Africans.
African resistance and Black Power revolution pushed back colonial attacks in 1960s
Therefore, if we understand that racism is not the issue, we understand that a power struggle is the issue. White people and the capitalist colonialist State only have the ability to violently attack African people because we are powerless. In fact, the same U.S. government who has attacked our community for 400 years is the same government who the African petty bourgeoisie, or middle class, is now asking to bring us justice for Trayvon. This is the height of neocolonial opportunism.
In the 1960s, African workers across the U.S. began to conclude that we must resist against the violence from the State and the general white population with an equal and greater force. Organizations like the Junta of Militant Organizations (JOMO), the forerunner to the African People’s Socialist Party, and the Black Panther Party became representative of a new political tendency in the African community that recognized that the real question is one of power.
During this period, Africans rose up in serious armed confrontations with the State across the U.S. In St. Petersburg, FL, JOMO led guerrilla struggle against the State that went on for months. Africans in Detroit engaged in a similar protracted armed struggle. The resistance in Detroit was so intense that the U.S. government had to send in the 82nd airborne division of the U.S. army to put down the rebellions. Of course, many are familiar with the resistance of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, which held up its executive mandate number one that stated that a Panther was never to give up his or her gun.
It was this resistance during the Black Power Revolution of the 1960s that radically changed the relations of power in the U.S. White power could not rule in the same old way. Gone were the days where the police could just murder an African and not expect any consequences. The lynch mobs of the North and South had gone underground for fear of suffering the same fate that the revolution was handing the State itself.
In fact, this was much of the basis behind the “white flight” of white people from the inner city to the suburbs during this period. The general white population began leaving cities like Oakland, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and areas within them that were formerly dominated by white populations. For example, it is a well-documented fact that the 1967 12th Street Riot of Detroit, Michigan, was the driving force behind white people leaving the city.
It would not be for another 20 or 30 years later, after the State had successfully crushed the Black Power Revolution of the 1960s, that white people would begin to return to the inner cities through the process that is generally known as gentrification. Gentrification has always had, as one of its fundamental components, a heavy-handed style of policing of the African communities being gentrified.
The general logic has been that the police bear the responsibility of protecting the lives and wealth of the white people who come to steal our homes and take over our communities. This was only made possible through the ongoing counterinsurgency against the African community — which was responsible for the absence of revolutionary organization, the imposition of the illegal drug economy on the African community and the intensified police occupation of our community, under the guise of a “war on drugs, gangs and crime.”
Therefore, today when a white man shoots a young African man in the streets, as was the case of Shareef Jones in Philadelphia in 2008, or more recently, Trayvon Martin, the shooting is summed up by the bourgeois media as a model citizen gunning down a thug, drug dealer or some sort of menace to society.
Colonial law serves to justify colonial violence
In fact, laws have been created by the U.S. government to justify the white vigilante colonial violence against Africans. In the case of Trayvon Martin, sectors of the capitalist colonialist State have put forth the “Stand your Ground Law,” which justifies the shooting of another person under certain conditions.
The law states, “a person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to him or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm…” In the view of the State and Trayvon’s killer, a young African male wearing a hoodie fits the description of imposing imminent peril of death.
Another example of the usage of colonial law as a justification for the colonial violence against Africans can be found in the case of Amadou Diallo, where a lawyer raised up the “contagious shooting” policy in the NYPD manual as justification for the more than 40 shots fired at this African.
An article in The State online magazine states, “Contagious shooting was a police term coined four decades ago to explain copycat police fire during riots. Once you start describing a behavioral phenomenon as a predictable sequence of events — ‘post-traumatic stress disorder,’ for example — people start reading it as an excuse. Seven years ago, during the Diallo case, a lawyer for one of the accused officers pointed out that ‘contagious shooting’ was in the New York Police Department patrol guide. I suspect that this phenomenon may play an active role in this case for my client," he told reporters.
None of this should be surprising. The fact is that the law is and has always been the opinion of the forces in society who have power.
Imperialism and African petty bourgeois middle class cannot solve the problems of the masses
With that said, it is almost inevitable that Zimmerman is going to be arrested. It is also likely that the governor and various other government entities will begin to criticize the method in which the police in Sanford, Florida have handled this thing up to now.
This is not because of some type of benevolence on the part of the State. In fact, it is only because of the obvious rage spreading through the African world around Trayvon’s case that the State and ruling class is forced to move in this way.
In fact, this case is probably something that is problematic for U.S. president Barack Obama and the liberal sector of the African petty bourgeois as well. A mobilized African population calling attention to the "race" issue is something that they would dread. This is one of the reasons why Al Sharpton is attempting to lead the Trayvon struggle in the way that he is, to deflect and misdirect the rage of the people.
The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement unites with the demand for Zimmerman’s arrest. However, we have to be clear that the arrest of Zimmerman, the intervention of the federal government and the other tactics that are sure to flow from this struggle will be an attempt by the ruling class to obscure the reality that Zimmerman's action is ordinary and one that responds to the public policy of police containment of our people, which informs the actions of politicians, police agencies and ordinary people like Zimmerman.
Therefore, the demand for Zimmerman’s arrest or federal investigation into the way in which the case was handled cannot and will not come at the expense of the fundamental responsibility that we have as African people for exacting punishment for the deaths of Trayvon and the countless other victims of white colonial violence.
African resistance reemerging
The type of resistance necessary to bring power into our own black hands has been reemerging amongst young Africans, slowly but surely.
On March 21, 2009, a 26-year-old African named Lovelle Mixon knocked down four cops in East Oakland, just blocks away from the Uhuru House. It cannot be denied that Lovelle’s act of resistance was in part a response to the then-recent police killing of Oscar Grant, as well as a string of other similar shootings of police throughout the Bay Area.
In the spring of 2010, young African workers united to demonstrate their rejection of neocolonialist authority and rule in the form of what the ruling class media called “flash mobs.” These uprising led to the “occupations” of resource rich, gentrified areas of the city where African youth normally could not go without fear of police repression. At one point, the flash mobs shut down the Philadelphia tourist economy of South Street completely.
On January 24, 2011, Hydra Lacy was killed as police came to his home to take him to join the more than one million African people held captive in U.S. prisons — but not before two St. Petersburg police lay dead and a U.S. marshal wounded. More than 100 police from various state and federal agencies were also held off outside his home for several hours.
Not even a month later, on February 21, the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, then 15-year-old Nicholas Lindsey allegedly killed one of the cops who was involved in the killing and cover up of the Hydra Lacy murder. The U.S. government responded by deploying over 200 assault weapon-toting cops, FBI tanks and SWAT in military uniform in order to keep the African community of South St. Petersburg on lockdown.
On Saturday, August 6, 2011, rebellion filled the streets of Tottenham following the police murder of 29-year-old Mark Duggan, father of four. It must be confirmed that it is the police who violently started the ordeal by the gunning down of Mr. Duggan on Thursday, August 4, 2011 in broad daylight, a case which was symptomatic of a general oppressive relationship the police have with Africans in London.
In a time when young Africans like Trayvon Martin are being hunted like animals by U.S. police forces and white nationalist vigilantes, we should point to all of these forms of African resistance against the police and colonial violence as an example of how the entire African world needs to stand up. White power would think twice before they shoot us if they know there will be consequences. Simply put, if there were more Lovelles and Hydras in our community, Trayvon would still be alive today.
InPDUM to lead international protest against colonial violence on African people
We know that in order for the various forms of resistance just spoken of to take on real significance, they must be organized under revolutionary leadership that has the seizure of power as its fundamental task. Therefore, InPDUM is calling on all of our local branches and organizing committees to participate in an international mobilization (marches, press conferences, forums and rallies) to raise up the following demands:
1. The immediate arrest of Zimmerman and his prosecution to the fullest extent of bourgeois law.
2. The immediate investigations into the killings and brutalization of African people by the U.S. and European imperialist governments and members of the white population.
3. To honor the modern day resistance of the African working class as a template for the type of resistance, which under the leadership of InPDUM, will serve as a force to prevent future acts of colonial violence against the African community. Such examples should include:
a. The Philly Youth Uprisings (aka flash mobs) of 2010 and 2011
b. The shooting of U.S. police forces by Lovelle Mixon (Oakland 2009), Hydra Lacy and Nicholas Lindsey (St Petersburg, FL 2011)
c. The Black August Rebellions of London, UK in 2011
4. Establishment of an international committee for African Community Control of Police and Self Defense that operate under the specific principles of points 1, 3, 16 and 27 of InPDUM’s Revolutionary National Democratic Program, which state:
- We demand all rights consistent with being a free people, rights which include self-determination and self-government as the highest expression of genuine democracy. We demand independence in our lifetime.
- As a serious component of the struggle to achieve State power, we call on Africans throughout the U.S. and Canada to unite with the Uhuru Movement-established tribunal, founded in 1982 as the first session of the International Tribunal on Reparations for African people in the U.S. The International Tribunal is the basis of our incipient revolutionary national democratic State power wherein Africans will conduct our own trials and hearings in the quest for justice within our colonized communities and achieve justice in issues between Africans and the U.S. colonial State and citizens.
- We demand an end to the public policy of police containment of African people within the U.S. and its replacement with a public policy of economic development through massive capital infusion that would be used to uplift the entire community by supporting existing African businesses, establishing new African businesses, including cooperatives, and by contributing to the general self-reliance of the African community.
- We claim the national right to self-defense and recognize that in our struggle for self-determination and national liberation any act of resistance is self-defense, whether initiated or responsive.
5. To initiate routine activity under the aforementioned committee to undermine the colonial occupation and violence against the African community. Such activity should include but not be limited to:
a. Implementation of cop watch programs that monitor the ongoing activity of police and gentrifying forces in the African community through documentation on video cameras and camera phones.
b. The development of a propaganda campaign to put up “wanted” posters with the pictures of cops who have brutalized Africans.
c. To build for the international InPDUM convention in St Petersburg, FL on Sept 28-29, 2012.
d. Organize tribunals to put the State on trial for the ongoing colonial oppression of the African community.