Tuesday, 25. May 2021

By Mo Wa Baile

An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us!

Shortly after the white police officer, Derek Chauvin, killed George Floyd, a Black man, the Police Department issued a press release titled “Man Dies [After] Medical Incident During Police Interaction.” This statement reads, “Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.”

It was only through that nine-minutes and 29 seconds video that shows the police officer pressing into George Floyd’s neck long after he stopped crying “I can’t breathe”, taken by a Black teenage girl Darnella Frazier, and the eyewitness testimony of passersby that the lies of the police department were uncovered.

The police officer who murdered George Floyd has now been sent to prison. The court did not convict the police officer for “accountability”, they convicted him so the country and particularly Minneapolis would not be set on fire. The system knew that, and so it sacrificed the police officer to save itself. Yes, the court convicted the police officer because so many people came to the streets to protest, and especially because of the threat of continued street action and nightly fires in Minneapolis. Those other three police officers who refused to stop their teammate from killing George Floyd are out on bond. The fact that you need a video to prove the lies of the police officers is not justice. The fact that even with a video showing the murder of George Floyd we were still not sure if the police officers will be convicted is not justice. The fact that we have to go to the streets and vow to remain on the streets for the killer police to be convicted is not justice. This is not justice. The criminal justice system is part of the problem, not of the solution. Justice is when George Floyd could be with his family now. He wanted to live, not to be killed. Justice is when I can walk on the street, take a train, sit in a park, without being controlled or pepper sprayed or be put on chokehold or be shot or be killed. Justice is when all the people are safe. An hour before the verdict was announced the police in Columbus, Ohio, killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a 15-year-young Black girl, by shooting her 4 times. More and more Black lives will be taken away by police officers, and many cases of police violence will result in no charges or convictions, of course, even when a Black person or person of color or white person is murdered.

In Germany, Oury Jalloh, a Black man was killed in a police cell in Dessau. Alone in his cell, his hands and feet were tied to a mattress as he was burnt. The police officers who burnt Oury Jalloh to death have neither been charged nor convicted for this murder. The officers want us to believe that Oury Jalloh committed suicide. Or the case of Christy Schwundeck, a Black woman who was gunned down in Frankfurt, will never see justice. Or the case of John Achidi who was tortured to death ended in making the victim the criminal. The murderers are still free and in some cases were even promoted to higher posts like Olaf Scholz, who was politically responsible for the death of Achidi John.

In Switzerland, Mike Ben Peter, Hervé Mandundu, Lamin Fatty and too many other Black people have died in police custody and none of police officers are held accountable. The officer who fired three bullets on Hervé Mandundu in Lausanne was recently acquitted and even received 35,000 francs as indemnity from the court, making this homicide justifiable. The family of Hervé Mandundu and their lawyer vow to continue fighting for this “is a fight that is won in the long term.”

In Zurich, on the way home in a tram, Wilson A. and his friend – two Black men – were controlled by white police officers. The other white passengers were not controlled, indicating the racist nature of this police control. When Wilson A. and his friend asked why they were being checked, they were ordered to get off the tram immediately. The police officers held Wilson A. and his friend as they were escorting them out of the tram. Wilson A. informed the police officers that he had recently had a heart surgery and asked to please not to touch him. Instead, the police officers sprayed pepper spray directly to Wilson A’s eyes, pushed him to the ground, and put him in chokehold for minutes. Wilson A. could barely breathe. He almost died like George Floyd and many others Black people and people of color. Four hours after being taken to the police station, Wilson A. was transferred to the university hospital in handcuffs. The doctors reported Wilson A. had severe bodily injuries. If he was not driven to the hospital, the attack would have been fatal. The police report stated that Wilson A. had no injuries, and the prosecutor of the Wilson A’s case did everything to sweep the case under the rug. She tried twice to drop the case. From the District Court to the Federal Court to the Supreme Court and back to the District Court, all the judges refused to hold the police officers accountable for this racist violent attack. After 11 years of fighting in the streets and in the courts, no justice is expected to be served, partly because after 15 years the case can be “legally” put away for good. That is how the Swiss system works. We must act now to pressure the criminal justice system! We must make sure this violence towards Black people in Switzerland stops. The new court date is November 22, 2021.

We ask the people to take Wilson A's case seriously by coming out in large numbers to the court on November 22nd. We ask the people to organize in support of this case, to fight the violent racist policing and racism in legal system. For George Floyd, it was only through mobilization that the killer police officer was sacrificed. Beginning from the moment bystanders simply cared to stand together and question the police officers as well as document the police violence by taking a video. Of course, it was also the work of years of collective organizing in particular led by Black queer women that resulted in shaking the system. And also the good work of the Black Attorney General Keith Ellison, who worked hard with his team to convince the court that what we see in the video is murder.

We need people in Switzerland and across Europe, in particular white people, to show bravery in willing to witness and document racist and violent policing, and to share the injustice on social media, even if it means receiving fines. We, Black people, people of color and white people, must continue to organize and protest. We must continue to flood the streets, until the Black people and people of color can be safe. Because without that not a single police officer will be held accountable, as they will continue to lie in their reports and in the courts, and will continue to commit crimes against humanity, and the criminal “justice” system will continue to be on the side of the “security” system.

Black people cannot breathe, unless the root of this racist policing institution and the racist criminalizing system that continue to kill Black people without being held accountable is ripped from the ground. We can begin by so many people as possible accompanying Wilson A. to court and coming to the streets to protest, particularly in Zürich where he was almost killed and where the case will be heard. Monitoring the trial in court as well as the street action is necessary. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.