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Activism Equality Far Right Human Rights Liberty Opinions Protest US Politics USA Violence

A Protest for Life

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It started with yet another black man murdered by the police. A white police officer kneeling on the throat of a man named George, begging for his life, begging to breathe. Anyone with any fibre of decency in their character would see this, know it for what it is, know that it is wrong.

Police brutality is and has been a massive issue across the US, disproportionally affecting the black population. The violence is now carried on to the disproportionate response from the authorities to protesters protesting for their right to live, to breathe, in their homeland – without fearing those who have sworn to serve and protect the communities, yet so blatantly have failed, becoming the enemy of the people they were supposed to protect.

The blatant racism of the US authorities is reflected in everything from statistics on police brutality, stop-and-frisks, arrests, throughout the justice system. It is cemented in structures built on a heritage of hatred against people who against their will were abducted, held hostage, and shipped to a far and distant land where they were forced into slave labour by people who had migrated out of their own volition, who claimed ownership to the land, yet committed genocide against the native population and ever since have fought to keep their position, as plantation owners, as authorities, as police, political and military leaders from those they in the past subjected to the greatest forms of injustice, out of fear, fear of diversity, fear of repercussion for acts they in the depths of their hearts know were wrong.

While structural racism embodied by the police, the justice system, political authority and so on certainly prevail in the US those most outspoken in favour of genocide and the reinstatement of the apartheid state, subjecting minority populations to even more injustice, is the far right. The far-right has dreamt of “race-war for decades. Now they’ve taken to the streets, hiding among the masses, instigating violence, taking the opportunity to try to turn beautiful protests for life ugly, turning them violent, giving justification both to the police and to others to escalate the level of violence.

The Far-Right has dreamt of “race-war” for decades – they’re out in the streets now, hiding in the crowds, instigating violence.

Remember – this is not their war – this is people protesting for their right to live and thrive in their homeland.

A protest for freedom and life.

The attempts at turning this into a race-war is exemplified both by intercepted internal communications in far-right groups on encrypted services coordinating efforts, as well as in more overt displays such as in the jamming of the Chicago police radio with the openly racist Serbian song ‘Karadžić, Lead Your Serbs’ (or “Remove Kebab”).

While there is justifiable outrage, protests and riots across the US this is not the “race-war” as the far-right wants it to be. Decent people of all backgrounds stand together against police brutality, against racism, against violence. This is a struggle between those who want an apartheid state and those who do not. Not between people of different origins. This is a protest for life.

This is a struggle between those who want an apartheid state and those who do not.

The sad reality is that the apartheid state has massive support, reaching far beyond what we conventionally see as the “far-right”. It is embodied by the police using violence against the people:

And it’s exemplified by the police using hand-signals to promote white supremacy:

Further, it is embodied by a government deploying the national guard against protesters, a President openly threatening and inciting violence against protesters, and the police and national guard attacking not only protesters but also the media covering the protests and police brutality.

This is not a “race-war” it is a struggle between the people and authorities that seek to repress in an effort to maintain the status quo. It is not only a protest against the brutal murder of George Floyd, but a protest for decency, and the right of all Americans to live together in peace. This is not only embodied by the black Americans who protests, but by all those who stand with them, fighting for everyone’s right to live together in peaceful, thriving, diverse communities.

The authoritarian use of force, the police brutality, the violence against civilians and journalists, the deployment of military force, the attacks on liberty does not only affect minorities, it affects all Americans, and all of humanity, for as long as one person is oppressed we’re all oppressed.

And so I say, I am not black, nor am I American, but I know what’s right, decency is decency, freedom is freedom and the right to life is fundamental – we stand united – how can I help?

  • Bjørn Ihler is the founding Editor in Chief of Activism Academy and co-founder of The Khalifa-Ihler Institute, the organization behind the academy. Ihler has a long track record as a contributor to multiple international publications and is a well renowned activist working among others with the Kofi Annan Foundation to counter violent extremism.