The US state has a long history of racism dating back to the days of slavery.
by BA and Venkatesh Sundaram
In April 2021, in the murder trial of Mr. George Floyd who had been killed about a year earlier in the state of Minnesota, USA during the process of being arrested by being pinned down by several policemen, including the chief accused Derek Chauvin who had pressed him down by kneeling on his neck for several minutes, a guilty verdict was reached. The case is still winding its way in the case of the other three accused, also members of the Police Force. The surprising thing was that there was no certainty that such a verdict would be reached by the jury, despite the availability of vast amounts of photographic and video graphic evidence that it was an unlawful death. The defence had argued that there was cause to believe that there could have been other contributing factors such as co-morbidities, drug use and also because the victim had also suffered from Covid-19.
The case arose from the complaint the Mr. Floyd had tried to pass off a bogus twenty dollar bill in his purchase of some casual items in a supermarket, whereupon the cashier called the police to complain. In the fracas that resulted, the police claimed that Mr. Floyd had resisted arrest and was also noncooperative and the use of force was therefore warranted. Several passers-by had pleaded with the police saying that it was obvious that he would die if the application of force continued, and he was repeatedly calling out for his mother, and pleaded that he could not breathe, and the pressure to the neck of a policeman who weighed along with his police equipment of over 80 kilograms with full body weight for over 9 minutes, led to the obvious conclusion that the death was caused by `positional asphyxia’.
It may be recalled that the murder of Mr. Floyd took place during the run up to the 2020 election to the White House which was a bitterly fought one by the incumbent Donald Trump and by the Democratic candidate Joseph Biden. The election was fought in a very polarised environment with the whipping up of all kinds of race hysteria. It was also a time when the Covid-19 crisis had already started its devastation and in parts of the US the pandemic had spread, and many families were experiencing jobless and parts of the US were gripped by economic downturn. At these times, there have always been a rise in crimes against national minorities, and in state terror.
Even though the trial concluded at a time when the election was over and Joseph Biden was already President, the environment continued to be polarised with widespread disillusionment with the justice system. Just before the trial concluded, in the same area, a 21 year old man was shot to death by a single shot from the gun of a policewoman, who claimed that she had meant to reach for her taser, while she accidentally reached for her gun and fired. This is patently laughable because the weapons are quite different in their feel, and weight, and police are well-trained in the use of firearms. Thus, it may be concluded that there is more to the story than meets the eye.
A disinterested observed would conclude that the economic system of the US, which sprang from a colonial and slave-ownership model, and transitioning to a full-fledged industrial, capitalist model, and which required the liberation of the African-American slave population to form a part of the industrial workforce also generated a large underclass of `superfluous’ persons, who were crowded into the ghettoes of the great cities of the US. The principles of statecraft retained elements of the plantation economy, with an extremely harsh and brutal approach to the question of law of order. Resting on these principles, the US today presents a contradictory approach of one where lofty principles are preached to the world, while in practice one sees extreme brutality towards its poor and powerless, towards it national minorities, and helpless immigrants, especially poor ones from the south, such as Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries.
The US state has a long history of racism dating back to the days of slavery. Racism is used by the state not only to deprive people of colour of their rights, but as a tool to smash the unity of the entire working class. The working people of the USA and other countries abhor racism and have a history of uniting to fight against racist attacks
Until such time that there is a real reconciliation to its own terrible criminal past, and until such time that there is a modern definition of rights, and not those enshrined in a constitution written by slave-owners, who selectively define human rights only for those who own property, or are rich, or are to the manor born, the issue of racism, state terror and violence will not abate. Given the pole position of the US in international affairs as the largest economy and most influential, the peoples of the US as well as that of the world will expect the US and its institutions to set standards. Only a search for modern definition based on a human essence will lead to a resolution of the terrible problems that beset its body politic.