Published on June 3rd 2020 on La Hoja Socialista/ The Socialist Leaflet No. 19/News
On last may 25th, 46-year-old American worker George Floyd was murdered at the hands of the police, in the city of Minneapolis. It unleashed massive outrage among a good part of the American working class. It is no wonder. The life of Floyd reflects that of the whole of his class: father of a child (a little girl), he had worked as a secutiry guard at a restaurant until he was left out of work due to the deepening of the economic crisis caused by the expansion of the Coronavirus disease.
His arrest was made at a store in the city, after Floyd tried to pay with a fake 20 dollar bill. A video of the arrest started to circulate a few hours later, where it can be seen a police officer keeping him on the floor for around 10 minutes, kneeling on his neck, cutting off his airway. The video shows Floyd screaming ‘I cannot breathe’ while the policemen do nothing. He was taken into a hospital but died a few hours later on.
The state response was not only repression and curfew. In the face of the crisis, the 4 police officers linked to the event were discharged and one was charged with third-degree murder. This escalated the mobilizations even further. An indictment of this nature means that the crime was carried out “without intent” and consequently entails a lesser verdict.
Trump only managed to critize protesters and democrats for ther inability to control the protests. He also offered to deploy the National Guard, which was accepted among many states. As it happens here in Argentina with respect to kirchnerites and macristas, democrats and republicans in the U.S. join forces to attack the working class, no matter the cost.
The left and human rights organizations came out denouncing racism and police violence. But that is just a part of the issue. In actuality, we are discussing a form of State violence against the whole of the working class. In the U.S. there are over a thousand deaths at the hands of the police every year. If we take the data of the year 2019 alone, there were murders of 307 whites, 235 blacks, 158 hispanics and 202 people where race is not identified. This shows, on the one hand, that police repression affects all of society. On the other hand, if we consider that black people represent only 13% of the total American population, it’s clear that this demographics is the most persecuted one.
Another indicator. The police officer accused of murder, Derek Chauvin, had a long record of abuse, which includes 3 incidents involving shootings, along with around 134 complaints and 2 letters of reprimand. Even so, he was awarded the Police Department’s Courage Medal for his service on 2009. That is, the State not only allows repression, but also rewards it.
The demonstrations extended across the U.S., and the bulk of the demonstrators were workers, under the slogan to end police violence and persecution of black people. It’s a segment of the working class sharply affected by the crisis, worsened by the pandemic. The mobilizations thus become a way to release tension accumulated against the State. It is part of a trend towards uprisings as well as an attempt to respond to the crisis.
What we have to take from this is that State cracks down on the entirety of the working class, both in mobilizations, as when other innocent workers are murdered or when curfews are imposed. To strengthen the fight, it’s necessary to abandon particularisms and demand a solution for the entirety of the working class. The main slogan should be an end to state repression and the organization of an independent workers’ commission to investigate all cases of violence. But the most importat task is to be able to launch a national coordination of all struggles, to confront the crisis and deliver a workers’ response. The problem is not only of skin color, the problem is of class too.