Monday, April 8, 2013
Contact: Kali Akuno
For Immediate Release: New Annual Report reveals that 313 Black People were killed in 2012, averaging one every 28 hours.
Every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the US government killed a Black man, woman, or child! This startling fact is revealed in Operation Ghetto Storm: 2012 Annual Report on the Extrajudicial Killings of 313 Black People by Police, Security Guards, and Vigilantes.
“When we started this investigation in early 2012, we knew a serious human rights crisis was confronting the Black community”, says Kali Akuno, an organizer with theMalcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). “However, we did not have a clear sense of its true depth until we compiled and examined the annual figures. We have uncovered outrageous rates of extrajudicial killings–rates, that when they are found in countries like Mexico or Brazil, are universally condemned. The same outrage inside the U.S. also demands immediate action.”
Given recent revelations in the case of Floyd et al v New York City that challenge “stop-and-frisk”, our study demonstrates that NYPD violations of human rights are endemic throughout the U.S. For example, racial profiling that singles Black people for looking, driving or behaving “suspiciously” leads to at least 43% of Black peoples’ fatal encounters with police. Only 13% of those who were killed were involved in allegedly violent criminal activity that physically threatened others’ lives. These and many more of the Report’s findings reveal the deadly impact of systemic racism in the U.S.
Akuno further points out, “Operation Ghetto Storm follows the trail of extrajudicial killings to the rise of militarized police forces and their occupation of Black communities. And explores how systemic racism has led to increased militarization and militarization, in turn has exacerbated the human rights crises devastating Black communities.”
He added, “This Report breaks new ground by going beyond reliance on police department press releases and investigating as fully as possible the context and consequences of each killing. This investigative journalism serves as an example of respect for Black life so often neglected in public conversations.”
Arlene Eisen, member of the Malcolm X Solidarity Committee and the author of the Report, explained, “Any one of these people killed could have been my son or your husband or daughter. Regardless of education, class, behavior or dress, nowhere is a Black person safe from potentially-fatal racial profiling, invasive policing, constant surveillance and overriding suspicion.”
Based on a year of research, Eisen concluded, “police departments and government agencies throughout the United States go to great lengths to hide the data on extrajudicial killings, particularly the race of the murder victims. I am quite sure that there were more than 313 Black people killed by the police in 2012. Social movements in the United States must demand this information and must demand an end to these killings.”
Operation Ghetto Storm is issued by the Every 36 Hours Campaign and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and can be downloaded at www.mxgm.org.
Preface: Context for Operation Ghetto Storm
The facts presented in Operation Ghetto Storm: 2012 Annual Report on the Extrajudicial Killing of Black People present us with a deeper understanding of the utter disregard held for Black life within the United States. Operation Ghetto Storm is a window offering a cold, hard, and fact-based view into the thinking and practice of a government and a society that will spare no cost to control the lives of Black people. WhatOperation Ghetto Storm reveals is that the practice of executing Black people without pretense of a trial, jury, or judge is an integral part of the government’s current overall strategy of containing the Black community in a state of perpetual colonial subjugation and exploitation
In July 2012, in the tradition of “On Lynching” by Ida B. Wells-Burnet and “We Charge Genocide” by William L. Patterson, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement released a critical report that exposed the fact that in the first six months of the year a Black man, woman, or child was summarily executed by the police, and a smaller number of security guards and self-appointed vigilantes, Every 36 Hours! But, the July 2012 report did not tell the whole story. Further investigation revealed a more accurate and gruesome number of extrajudicial killings during the first six months of the year. And true to form, the assault on Black life stayed consistent for the last six months of the year, resulting in the extrajudicial killing of at least 313 Black people in 2012, or one Every 28 Hours!
Setting the Record Straight
If not for our investigation, this gruesome reality would largely be ignored. The United States government has no interest in revealing these facts and police unions actively suppress them. The corporate media is so permeated with white supremacist and capitalist assumptions and rationalizations that reporters and editors deem these killings unworthy of note. With one important exception: They use the stories of “officer-involved killings” to reinforce a stereotypical, but strategic depiction of the most dispossessed sectors of the Black working class as criminal commodities, fit for disposal.
This demonization of Black “targets” reinforces the insidious propaganda of the United States government and its supporters, that the United States is the most democratic and socially liberated country on Earth. But, any critical observer and thinker must ask, how can the supposedly “most democratic” country on Earth be the largest jailer on the planet? What types of “legitimate” democratic processes result in nearly half of the countries prison population being Black, while Black people only comprise 13% of the total population of the United States? What types of resources, planning, coordination and programmatic implementation go into arresting, convicting, imprisoning or deporting over 10 million people annually? And what can possibly justify the extrajudicial killing of at least 313 Black people in one year?
Genuine and healthy democracies do not spend more than 50% of their budgetary resources on their militaries, domestic “law enforcement” agencies, and prisons. The fact that the United States government spends this amount demonstrates that the United States is neither a genuine democracy nor a “healthy” society in any form or fashion. The United States is a European settler-colonial project that has erected a racial state to enforce and maintain a rigid order of white supremacy, colonial occupation, and capitalist exploitation. As the facts presented herein attest, the United States is one of the most repressive and brutal societies in the world, particularly to oppressed peoples like Blacks, Native Americans, and Latinos. The rates of extrajudicial killings on the US rival only those perpetrated against the Indigenous people of Palestine, Mexico, Guatemala and the Amazonian region, and African-descendants in Brazil and Colombia.
The War Against Black People
In order to contain the oppressed peoples within its colonial possessions, the United States settler-colonial government has built the most full-spectrum network of repressive enforcement structures in human history. They include the Police, Sheriff’s, Rangers, Customs, FBI, Homeland Security (including INS), CIA, Secret Service, prison guards, as well as the numerous private security and other protective services. It has also created the largest and most invasive surveillance system in human history. This system includes everything from satellites, police, FBI, and DHS operated surveillance drones, and electronic tracking and monitoring via our cellphones, computers, tablets, email, Facebook, Twitter, and chip-filled passports, driver’s licenses, and identification cards.
These forces of occupation and repression have been strategically deployed over the last 70 years to wage a grand strategy of “domestic” pacification to sustain the colonial occupation of North America via a never ending series of containment campaigns that amount to nothing less than a “perpetual war”. This “perpetual war” has been known by many names over the last seven decades such as the “Cold War”, COINTELPRO”, the” War on Drugs”, the “War on Gangs”, the “War on Crime”, and most recently, the “War on Terrorism”. This pacification strategy is designed to contain the various peoples’, social, and religious movements that resist the colonial order of white supremacy inside the United States, the post World War II imperialist world-system, and the vicious strategy of neo-liberal accumulation by dispossession that it has been aggressively imposing on its citizens, colonial subjects, and the rest of the world. The most visible component of this pacification campaign inside the US, has been the astronomical increase in the incarceration of Black people over the last 40 years.
This “perpetual war” intensified both quantitatively and qualitatively after the events of September 11, 2001. Exploiting those events as justification, the United States government launched a new series of imperialist conquests and occupations and further expanded its overall military operations and spending. It has also justified the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, which integrates domestic and international intelligence, surveillance, and repressive institutions of the United States government. Even further it has provided a rational for the implementation of extensive “constitution free zones”, the expansion and deepening of the militarization of the police, and the passage of some of the most repressive legislation in United States history, such as the Patriot, Homeland Security, and National Defense Authorization Acts to name a few.
And the United States government’s grand strategy of domestic containment and pacification via perpetual war shows no signs of either slowing down or coming to an end on its own accord any time soon. Extrajudicial killings are clearly an indispensible tool in the United States government’s pacification pursuits.
Confronting the Crisis
Despite being virtually ignored by the corporate media, our July 2012 report did receive considerable coverage in various Black and progressive media outlets. It’s dissemination via these channels insured that the Every 36 Hours report reached thousands of people throughout the United States and the world. It’s reception helped to stimulate righteous indignation and outrage in many isolated quarters. However, unchanneled and unorganized indignation and outrage are not enough. We must turn this indignation and outrage into organized, sustained, and determined mass action to stop this crisis.
As we noted in the July 2012 report, the first critical step is organizing the Black community to proactively defend itself. We must end our reliance on the model of protest mobilizations that occur after the police have executed one of our loved ones. This must cease being our primary means of securing justice. We have to see the war on Black people for what it is and proactively organize ourselves to resist it. To aid in launching and promoting these necessary organizing initiatives, we have authored and released “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: A Handbook on Organizing New Afrikan and Oppressed Communities for Self-Defense”. It can be found at http://mxgm.org/let-your-motto-be-resistance-a-handbook-on-organizing-new-afrikan-and-oppressed-communities-for-self-defense/.
“Let Your Motto Be Resistance” draws on the long history of Black peoples’ struggle to realize self-determination and defend our persons, our rights and our dignity from the assaults of the oppressive settler-colonial government and the forces of white supremacy. Building on this history “Let Your Motto Be Resistance” provides, in summary form, a vision of how we can (re)organize our communities from the ground up.
Self-defense in and of itself is not enough, however. We will not turn back “Operation Desert Storm” and the military machine that aims to keep Black and other oppressed people subordinate and contained, until we defeat and dismantle the systems of colonialism, national oppression, white supremacy, capitalism and imperialism. It is imperative that we build a broad and dynamic mass movement capable of transforming the system and building a new social order.
More specifically, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement is calling for a broad alliance of Blacks, Indigenous peoples, Latinos, Arabs, Asians, and progressive whites that will challenge the various forms of state repression, including racial profiling, mass incarceration, mass deportation, displacement, and of course, extrajudicial killings. It is our hope that local, regional, and countrywide peoples’ alliances will form and stand as the core of the Peoples’ Self Defense Networks proposed in “Let Your Motto be Resistance”.
To honor the memory of every Black man, woman, and child summarily executed at the hands of the police and other agents of the United States government in 2012, let us organize our communities to end the terror being waged against us.
For more information about the report or any of the proposals contained within it, please contact Kali Akuno at [email protected].