This New Years Day 2009 in Oakland, California another tragic incident of police terror against a young Black man occurred. Oscar Grant III, 22 years old, father of a 4 year old daughter, was shot execution-style by a transit cop. Videos of the incident clearly show he was shot in the back while face-down on a subway platform, unarmed and posing no threat.
The incident was filmed by bystanders, and police attempted to confiscate most of the videos. But a few made it to Youtube and were viewed around the world. Outrage at this incident spread, with protests and rebellions happening in response to this atrocity in the Bay Area and elsewhere.
John Burris, a civil rights lawyer for the Grant family, called this murder one of the worst cases of police terrorism he ever witnessed. Recently Johannes Nehserle, the pig shown on the video shooting Grant, was charged with murder after he quit the BART police force and fled the state to avoid questioning. Along with calling for criminal charges against the cop, Burris is helping file a 25 million lawsuit for Grant’s family.
Although this case may be one of a few where justice is brought against a killer cop, it will be too little too late. Terrorism and injustice are nothing new for Black people in Amerikkka. It enslaved and killed millions of African people in one of the most brutal slavery systems known to man. It subsequently lynched thousands of Blacks in its long history of colonial and neo-colonial oppression. Other non-white peoples have been victims of Amerikkka in its long history of exploitation, land theft, and genocide.
With oppression comes resistance. The Black Liberation struggle and the leaders it produced have long been an inspiration to oppressed peoples in every corner of the globe. We take this time on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to remember that spirit of resistance.
This year’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day coincides with the inauguration of Barack Obama, the first “Black” president of the United States. While objectively historic, it should be seen as it is, a reinvention of U.S. imperialism as a multicultural empire with a Black figurehead. As seen by the murder of Oscar Grant, the Obama presidency will not end the police killings of non-white youth. It will not end the huge incarceration rates of non-white peoples inside the United States. It will not free Mumia Abu-Jamal and the hundreds of other political prisoners who are continually denied freedom and justice. It will not end the U.S. instigated bloodbaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. support for Israel’s aggression against Palestine, or U.S. harassment against independent nations like Venezuela and Bolivia. And it will not end the parasitic capitalism that steals resources and labor from the Third World to fuel Amerika’s opulent consumerism.
Even Martin Luther King Jr. saw the realities of the political, economic, and military imperialism the United States was inflicting not only to oppressed nations inside the country but all around the world:
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, ‘This is not just’” (“Beyond Vietnam”).
The investments they continue to use to take profits from poor nations were received from previous thefts the U.S. committed throughout its history. This cycle must stop.
At the same time Oscar Grant was killed, over 1000 Palestinians lost their lives in Gaza by the settler occupation of Israel, funded by the United States. True freedom and justice will not come by accepting a bigger part of U.S. imperialism but by rejecting and abolishing it outright. Oppressed nations everywhere must gain their freedom and determine their own destinies. These freedom struggles are in solidarity with all oppressed peoples in the world, in bringing about a truly just world where an end to oppression with no concessions is more than just a dream.