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As disturbing details of a custody related death emerge, we must continue the fight for racial justice. In a Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “HOPE not hate: What we need to remember from the Civil Rights Movement, Nick Lowles says, “With the fight for racial justice being far from over, lessons taught to us by civil rights pioneers are more important than ever.” Yesterday was, “Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States. The commemoration marks the anniversary of King’s birth with a public holiday in honour of one of the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. After the recent storming of Congress by hundreds of Trump supporters ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration, remembering King is more important than ever. Drawing on the successes of the Movement will help us map out a more racially-equal future. Against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter protests last year, the United States appears more divided than ever and the cause for racial equality, which ultimately cost King his life, appears far away.”
Lowles reports that the, “Fight for racial justice and equality continues. As is clear from the events of the past year, the fight for racial justice and equality in the United States, the UK and around the world is far from over. Indeed, many of the gains made in the mid-1960s have been clawed back and the criminalisation of America’s Black community from the 1970s onwards has had profound political, economic and cultural consequences. The murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests clearly illustrated the anger and frustration of America’s Black communities, just as the right-wing backlash illuminated the resistance to change of many. African Americans today still face a great deal of structural racism, poorer employment opportunities, poorer health outcomes and a tribalised political system, which too often does not serve them well.” BAME Ministers in Johnson’s Tory Government are trying hard to use their influence to pretend the UK doesn’t have any problem with racial issues.
Lowles advises, “Learning from Civil Rights Movement successes,” saying, “Looking at the successes of the Civil Rights Movement can help us in the fight for racial equality, including here in the UK. One such lesson is the importance of being media-savvy. The civil rights activists in the South were shrewd when it came to the media, understanding that they needed to have a clear understanding of how to frame their narrative and actions to appeal to their intended audiences. Rosa Parks was not the first to physically resist bus segregation when she boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, but her character, demeanour and the campaign preparations built around her in advance, meant that she would be both a sympathetic person with which to appeal to white America’s conscience.”
In another example Lowles says, “Martin Luther King held a demonstration in Selma, Alabama knowing it was likely to be attacked under the orders of the local racist sheriff. He just happened to have TV crews on hand to beam the assault into the homes of millions of Americans, including the President. We can also learn a lot from the Movement’s commitment to non-violence. Taking the moral high-ground and refusing to be baited into retaliation, not only preventing the media the ability to frame them as violent extremists, but it only highlighted the brutality of the haters.” Although it appears his actions were instinctive and spontaneous, when Black Lives Matter protester, Patrick Hutchinson carried an injured far-right combatant to safety, he created a really powerful iconic image by refusing to engage with violent resistance saying, “That’s not what we do!”
Lowles acknowledges that, “Another lesson is the importance of tactics. The Civil Rights campaigners worked hard to try and ensure that they, and not their opponents, shaped the narrative. Today, we campaign against online hate and hate speech, but we’ve become complacent into believing that everyone will understand our rationale and understand why we seek to de-platform extremists and get extremist content removed. Without taking the public on the journey with us, and explaining our actions, we risk appearing as the intolerant suppressors of free speech, thus allowing the far right can paint themselves as free speech martyrs.”
Lowles also says that, “A further key lesson of the Civil Rights Movement is the importance of positivity, and framing struggles as a hopeful expression of freedom and equality. This is something which HOPE not hate believes in strongly, and why we are called what we are. It is too easy to be ‘anti’, to be against something, but it is so more powerful and inspiring to be positive and for something. This also has the added benefit of appealing to a broader audience, especially people who do not normally identify with political campaigns. As the world looks ahead to the end of the shameful Trump presidency later this week, the lessons taught to us by the civil rights pioneers are more important than ever.”
Nick Lowles, who is CEO of ‘Hope not hate,’ reports that, “Racism and racial injustice remain deeply engrained in society, but the courage and imagination of Martin Luther King, and the thousands of others who took part in the Civil Rights Movement, make us better equipped to face these challenges today. The HOPE not hate Charitable Trust is marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day by producing the Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement as a magazine and a website, an extensive commemoration and celebration of all those who took part in the Civil Rights Movement, the great many sacrifices and its legacy in the decades that followed.” Hope not hate has made an important contribution to detoxifying the current volatile environment that is being stocked up by our toxic tabloid press. The fact that the PM has never demonstrated the courage to apologize for any of his disgraceful hateful messaging remains a serious impediment to progress; the public must shame Boris Johnson into acknowledging the harm of his racist insults.
In the Canary Article entitled, “This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let’s not whitewash what he stood for,” they said that, “As we approach Martin Luther King Jr. Day on 18 January, it’s important to challenge the dominant narratives that surround him. His history as a radical, anti-racist, anti-war, anti-capitalist leftist has been whitewashed to produce something more palatable for the mainstream. However, the iconic civil rights leader posed a legitimate threat to America’s white supremacist, militaristic, imperialist, materialistic status quo. King stood firm against the ‘Three Evils of Society’: militarism, materialism, and racism. His non-violent resistance has been misrepresented as colour-blind passivity. But he was committed to fundamental revolutionary change.’ As a true visionary King realized that the struggle for equality wasn’t just about defeating racism, but ending the grinding poverty that subjugated the entire lower strata of American society with discontent manipulated to drive animosity between the races.”
The Canary say, “Liberal and conservative commentators alike have co-opted King’s memory to discredit the aims and actions of today’s Black Lives Matter movement. Others have used his words to support harmful ideologies of colour-blindness and false unity. These are total misrepresentations of the man who sought to disrupt and dismantle systems of racial, economic, and militaristic oppression. King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech has been watered down beyond recognition. In the speech, he praised the ‘marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community’. Regarding events in 1963, when members of Birmingham, Alabama’s Black community rose up against white supremacist attacks, King warned the establishment: ‘This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.”
The Canary continue the I have a dream speech quote, relating how King had insisted that, “1963 is not an end, but a beginning.
And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. … The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.’ They say that, ‘Recognising that the establishment didn’t intend to relinquish power, King posited that Black people must seize it. And King’s confrontational politics led the FBI to label him the most dangerous… Negro leader in the country’.”
But the Canary stress that King was, “Anti-militarism – King was a forthright opponent of American militarism and imperialism. He described the US government as ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today’. In the face of increasingly militarised law enforcement agencies and expansive military campaigns, King’s prophetic words that ‘a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death’ still ring true. In 2018, academic Cornel West highlighted the hypocrisy of warmongering imperialist powers summoning King’s memory.”
The Canary highlight the fact that, “The history books tend to overlook King’s strong anti-capitalist stance. The minister saw capitalism for what it is, a system that produces a ‘gulf between superfluous wealth and abject poverty’. His Poor People’s Campaign called for the ‘total, direct, and immediate abolition of poverty’. Moreover, his goal was to create a multiracial working-class movement that would pose a serious threat to the establishment. King saw America for what it was, and still is. As Cornel West stated: The radical King was a democratic socialist who sided with poor and working people in the class struggle taking place in capitalist societies… The response of the radical King to our catastrophic moment can be put in one word: revolution – a revolution in our priorities, a re-evaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life, and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens.”
The Canary ask, “Could it be that we know so little of the radical King because such courage defies our market-driven world?
As the fight against white supremacy, militarism, and economic inequality continues, it’s important to remember that while King stood for hope, he also stood for action. Today’s Black freedom movement stands firmly in King’s legacy, and should be recognised as such. This year, we must challenge the selective amnesia that renders King a passive leader.” They say that, “we must incorporate his holistic, revolutionary approach to change-making in today’s fight against society’s ills.”
In the Canary Article entitled, “Police chief leaps to defend his force before any investigation into Mohamud Hassan’s death is carried out,” they say that, “The funeral of 24-year-old Mohamud Mohammed Hassan took place on Sunday 17 January.” They remind us that, “Mohamud died suddenly on 9 January after being arrested and held overnight in police custody. Witnesses say that he had been released from Cardiff Bay police station with blood on his clothes and bruises all over his body. According to a close friend, he said: ‘Look fam, the police have beat the shit out of me.’ Before he died, Mohamud told his family that the police had tasered him twice. His cousins said: [Mohamud] stated that he was brutally kicked in the head and suffered injuries to his face and knee- it was dislocated, and he struggled to walk. Witnesses say that he was covered in blood with significant injuries to his mouth. Hundreds of people attended three days of protest last week outside Cardiff Bay police station.”
The Canary report that, “Chief constable is quick to defend his police force. After mounting pressure from Mohamud’s loved ones and from the public, the chief constable of South Wales Police, Jeremy Vaughan, finally released a statement on 15 January. Mohamud’s case has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to investigate. But Vaughan was quick to defend his force. He said: ‘We did this not because we thought that police officers had done anything wrong, but because it was the right thing to do, to give an independent view on the decisions that we made and the actions that we took. Vaughan also said: The death of Mohamud Hassan was a tragedy and we will continue to offer our deepest condolences to his family.”
The Canary say, “These empty words must particularly sting Mohamud’s family and friends. Lee Jasper, vice-chair of BAME Lawyers 4 Justice, argues that: [Vaughan’s] sympathy and concern statement is exposed and undermined by the fact that neither he nor anyone else from South Wales Police made any effort to contact family in the immediate aftermath of Mohamud’s death.” They claim that the, “IOPC not reporting the facts,” highlighting the fact that, “A statement released by the IOPC on 12 January stated that: Preliminary indications are that there is no physical trauma injury to explain a cause of death… But Jasper points out that this is unbelievable. He says: ‘This in spite of the fact that they had sight of the interim post-mortem examination report that confirmed Mohamad’s body was battered and bruised.”
The Canary agree that, “This is selective reporting on their part as the report confirmed that Mohamud had, as his family has consistently stated, suffered some physical trauma including a split lip and numerous bruises consistent with being slammed against ‘hard surfaces’. So why didn’t the IOPC statement report all the facts? The IOPC’s stance is, perhaps, not surprising. A Guardian report on 18 January revealed that: Fewer than one in 10 British police officers found to have potentially committed gross misconduct by the [IOPC] are dismissed. Jasper argues that: ‘On this occasion, it looks like [the IOPC] have conspired to construct a version of events, designed to mislead the public. If that is the case, and it appears to be so, then that is a very grave mistake indeed.’ Chief Constable Vaughan spent at least a third of his statement talking about Covid regulations, and how we should all ‘follow the regulations and guidelines’, presumably in an attempt to guilt us all into not protesting Mohamud’s death.”
The Canary say, “Jasper argues that this is: a classic divide and rule tactic and attempts to gaslight the black community. Vaughan went on to say that: ‘I need my police officers to be working hard to protect the public, to respond to incidents of domestic violence and abuse, to respond to sexual violence, knife crime and all other forms of violence and hatred.’ Jasper responds by saying: It would seem to me that the simple insertion of knife crime is a either a subliminal or a consciously none-too subtle attempt to use that issue as a dog whistle reference, to conjure up racial stereotypes. At the same time as Vaughan and the IOPC denying any police misconduct, the police are refusing to hand over their bodycam footage to Hassan’s family. Jasper argues: Ironically, the reason why police body cams were introduced in the UK was to provide public reassurance concerning critical policing incidents.”
The Canary reiterate Jasper’s serious concerns saying that, “It makes no sense in the context of a case causing tremendous anger and anxiety that the Police should withhold video footage from the family. Campaigners are urging everyone to Sign a Petition, demanding the release of bodycam footage immediately. We all need to make our voices heard and make sure South Wales police are held accountable.” In a warped tabloid perspective on the world the Daily Mail misdirected public attention with multiple pictures of a very small group of five London protesters being arrested by police as if they posed a major national threat. Buried in this sea of inciteful images is a brief mention of Hassan. Omni present in all of the featured Media links in a recent Google search, the typical ‘nothing to see here’ police statement: “Early findings by the force indicate no misconduct issues and no excessive force” deliberately detract from the real crime of the horrific cause of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan’s death.
The Panorama Documentary entitled “I can’t breathe: Black and Dead in Custody” aired on Monday night and it could not be more timely given the recent Hussan incident in Cardiff. This Panorama report was not about Goeorge Floyd or another American tragedy; it focuses on two of the cases here in the UK.. The BBC write up says, “Panorama investigates why black men in the UK are more likely than white men to have force used on them by police and to die in police custody. Reporter Mark Daly follows the family of Kevin Clarke on their search for justice. Mr Clarke repeatedly said, ‘I can’t breathe’ as he was restrained by police on the ground for 14 minutes during a mental health crisis. He died soon afterwards, his words mirroring those of George Floyd, whose death in the US triggered a global debate on race and policing. The programme also reveals fresh evidence in Scotland’s most high-profile death in custody. Sheku Bayoh died in 2015 after being restrained by up to six officers.”
George Floyd’s death was caught on camera in a shocking piece of video footage that went viral and caused global outrage. All too many US minorities realize that their lives are at risk in situations where police interventions over the most minor suspicion can lead to summary execution at the hands of bigoted officers. These incidents will rarely cause the offending, overly aggressive, police officer’s to risk losing their job, let alone face prosecution, but it’s no better here in the UK where officers close ranks and exaggerate the conduct of their unfortunate victim. While we should all remain committed to non-violence we cannot abandon the necessity to protest and resist oppression. The humanity of Hutchinson who said, “That’s not what we do” as he carried a man to safety beyond the racist brawl the far-right had instigated, should serve as a lesson to us all. While we cannot afford to be goaded into violence we must be allowed to continue protesting injustice. Those critical protest rights are being rapidly eroded here in the UK.
The manipulation of Covid restrictions is being used to block all types of legitimate protest and this presents a very serious danger to the public. Death in custody is being normalized while protesting violent atrocities is banned and those who dare to protest such gross injustice are being criminalized for doing so. This is a powerful tool in the hands of the dangerous authoritarian regime that the Tory Party has now become. Due to corrupt practices, including use of public funds to pay fake Charity the ‘Integrity Initiative’ to generate defamatory propaganda to sabotage the opposition in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, the Tories should never have been allowed to come to power. Once the evidence was exposed in a functioning democracy the offenders should be jailed for this offence, quite asside from the highly suspect postal vote scandal yet to be Investigated. Claiming a ‘landslide majority’ of ‘borrowed votes’ there’s now nothing to prevent Boris Johnson from employing deadly force to keep his Tory Sovereign Dictatorship in power! DO NOT MOVE ON!