Stop militarizing our communities at home and abroad!
by Sophia Hansen-Day for our summer zine, 2016
Last November 15th, a young Black man, Jamar Clark, was executed by the Minneapolis Police Department. With very few repercussions, four white supremacists subsequently threatened and shot at protesters who were calling for accountability for these police executions. Clark’s murder by officers Schwarze and Riggenberg set off an 18-day occupation outside the 4th precinct police station, countless rallies and marches, and an ongoing community struggle to demand prosecution of the police and the demilitarization of our communities.
Meanwhile, a 14 year old Palestinian boy, Ahmad Sharakeh, was shot in the back of the head by an Israeli soldier while walking near Jalazon refugee camp. He was one of only several hundreds of casualties during an increase of extrajudicial killings by Israeli forces last October and November. Side by side with the official forces (financially and morally supported by the U.S. government), came increased violence from Israeli settlers, who have seen that there is no censure when they brutalize Palestinians. Palestinians have resisted this violence with militant protests, and a renewed call to the world to support their struggle for liberation through movements like Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS).
In Minneapolis and in Palestine, both official forces and racist civilians have received the message that lethal oppression will be tolerated. These are not exceptions to the rule or bad eggs. The US empire’s military abroad and police forces domestically share technology and tactics for surveillance and control. Police departments’ budgets, the weaponry available to cops on the beat, and the use of specialized paramilitary SWAT teams have all been expanded, while the Pentagon’s budget kept getting swelling. After 9/11, US police departments received funding from Homeland Security to purchase military equipment and gained access to excess military hardware used previously in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2002, at least 300 high-ranking sheriffs and police officers have been sent to Israel for “counter-terrorism” training in the apartheid nation’s booming security industry. On such delegations, the US-funded Israeli military shares tactics and strategies they have developed to oppress Palestinians. US police officers then bring that training back to use against people of color in our communities.
Under capitalism, the role of the police is to protect property and the power structure in order to keep oppressed and working-class communities down. The history of US policing is rooted in anti-Black racism, emerging out of slave patrols in the US South and continuing with the brutal repression of the Civil Rights, Black Power, and War on Drugs eras. Police have been used time and again to repress the labor movement and all movements for liberation.
We must share a commitment to ending the militarization of our communities, racialized capitalism, and colonialism at home and abroad. Resistance to our respective oppressors is more effective when we unite and recognize the connections between them and the links to those profiting from militarization. Black activists and scholars, from Malcolm X to Alice Walker, have tied the Black liberation movement in the US to the struggle in Palestine. This international solidarity has strengthened with movement building under the banner #BlackLivesMatter.
Anti-War Committee members continue to be active in the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar.