Police violence and racism confront workers and minorities in both France and the United States. France’s capitalist leaders insist that what happens on the other side of the Atlantic is irrelevant and reject any discussion of defunding or dismantling the police. The authors put the lie to their contention.
“France is not the United States.” Over and over, that is the refrain from those seeking to stigmatize the demonstrations in recent weeks here in France against police violence and racism. To that they add, over and over, that the demonstrations are a form of ethnic factionalism, that they are divisive, that they are a threat to the “Republic.” Indeed, in view of the latest statements by Macron, the right wing, and the extreme right opposition, it is true that “France is not the United States.”
International activist Assa Traore, whose brother Adama was killed in French police custody four years ago, was given the BET Global Good award on Sunday.
Traore thanked BET, an American television channel dedicated to African-American and minority people, for the award, calling it “an acknowledgment of our fight.”
“It’s an acknowledgment for all the victims, for all the families who keep fighting for truth and justice,” she said in a video message played during the virtual awards ceremony.
The award is “BET International’s recognition of public figures who use their platform for social responsibility and goodness while demonstrating a commitment to the welfare of the global Black community,” according to the channel’s website.
Before her brother’s death, Traore, who has been dubbed the French Angela Davis after the US political activist, had never been someone who campaigned for a cause.
But the 35-year-old mother of three was thrust into the heart of the global fight against police violence and racism by the death in Minneapolis police custody last month of George Floyd.
For four years, she campaigned, organized demonstrations, spoke out publicly and gave numerous interviews after alleging her brother was killed by the police. An investigation is still ongoing.
For a long time, the “Adama fight” remained a local battle unnoticed outside France. But the death of George Floyd has catapulted it into the global consciousness.
Thousands of people demonstrated in Paris in early June and hundreds of others took to the streets across France against racism.
“In the name of my brother, I will change everything I can change,” Traore told AFP on Saturday.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown issued the following statement on the date of the incident saying he was “deeply disturbed by the video”:
“Tonight, after a physical altercation between two separate groups of protesters participating in an illegal demonstration beyond the curfew, two Buffalo Police officers knocked down a 75-year-old man. The victim is in stable but serious condition at ECMC. I was deeply disturbed by the video, as was Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood. He directed an immediate investigation into the matter, and the two officers have been suspended without pay. After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, Police leadership and members of the community, tonight’s event is disheartening. I hope to continue to build on the progress we have achieved as we work together to address racial injustice and inequity in the City of Buffalo. My thoughts are with the victim tonight.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a tweet, called the incident “wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful.”
“President Trump did a tweet today that surprises me — even after all the tweets that he has done,” Cuomo said at his daily press briefing. The governor said he was shocked and disgusted by the president’s suggestion that the 75-year-old man is an “ANTIFA provocateur” and may have been trying to “set up” law enforcement.
Every day is a new low for Donald Trump as a member of the human race. On Friday, he dragged George Floyd’s memory down into the gutter, too.
Democratic and Republican party politicians alike don’t only represent and defend something horrible — our racist, exploitative system — but they sometimes say really horrendous things that reveal their true aspirations for capitalism and imperialism and how deeply flawed they are as human beings. In the bourgeois media, these moments are often referred to as “saying the quiet part out loud” — so named because they express what the speaker really thinks and the actions that speaker would really like to take. They often happen when the speaker doesn’t realize the microphone is on.
There are many famous “hot mic” moments. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan — doing a sound check just before a radio address while the Cold War still raged — said, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”
There are also many examples of saying the quiet part out loud. In 2013, the state’s Republican Party chairman, Robert Gleason, admitted that the photo ID requirement that had recently been pushed through the legislature effectively suppressed voter turnout and that this had been the objective all along, thus exposing as a lie the claims about fighting “fraud.” He said it had “helped a bit” to lower Obama’s margin over Romney, cutting it to half of what it had been over McCain four years earlier. The Republican leader in the state’s House of Representatives, Mike Turzai, had already predicted during the campaign that the voter ID measure would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
Politicians typically try to walk back these moments. But not Donald Trump. There’s no such thing as a “hot mic” for this president. He even brushed off the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, claiming at one point that it wasn’t him speaking. And he doesn’t just say the quiet part out loud routinely; he memorializes it in writing in his Twitter feed.
Even his closest advisers expect this from him. You can see it in their faces.
In that context, consider what Trump said on Friday when trumpeting a surprising decline in official U.S. unemployment that the Boston Globe generously characterized as based on “iffy” data. Speaking in the Rose Garden, Trump revelled in how the analysts seem to have been proven wrong. His own economic adviser Kevin Hassett had warned of an impending 20 percent unemployment rate in June. Referring to the TV shows he spends most of his time watching, Trump said, “I think it was one of the greatest miscalculations in the history of business shows, business shows talking about Wall Street,” he said.
Reading from a prepared statement, Trump then managed to make some unremarkable but at least coherent points. For instance, he said:
Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender, or creed. They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement.
But the moment he strayed from the paper in front of him, the real Trump came out:
We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully George is looking down and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. It’s a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.
Trump then declared the economic figures were great “for African Americans, for Hispanic Americans, and for Asian Americans, and for everybody.”
Donald Trump is incapable of even pretending to have any empathy for a murder victim and his family. He also seems to be mocking the very idea of racial equality. He is a malignant narcissist who must make everything about himself — either by pointing to pseudo-accomplishments or playing the victim of the “worst attacks” in history. And so, Trump’s “tone-deafness” — as the mainstream media likes to call it — once again provoked the denunciations of other capitalist politicians and their media spokespeople.
CNN’s Maeve Reston said that this comment showed Trump’s “breathtaking disconnect from the pain and tumult that has unfolded in this country after George Floyd’s death. Speaking later in the day, Joe Biden criticized Trump: “George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,’ echoed all across this nation and, quite frankly, around the world. For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd I frankly think is despicable.”
These are strong words, but what about the crime bill that Biden wrote? Isn’t that despicable too, given that it led to the United States becoming the world’s leader in locking people up — especially people of color?
Trump will be Trump. Every time the political talking heads on TV think he’s hit a “new low,” he shows that he has no low. But don’t let his particular brand of “despicable” confuse you. What is most despicable is the system Trump, Biden, and all the Democrats and Republicans represent — a system they are working overtime these days to keep from unraveling as people stream into the streets and say “enough.”
Democrats and Republicans sometimes hide their real agenda behind pretty words and phrases. Biden does this a lot. Trump doesn’t really. What ultimately matters is their actions. Democrats and Republicans alike actively perpetuate racism, violence, and oppression. Our job is to help turn the rage that is exploding everywhere into a political movement that puts Trump, Biden, and the rest of them in the dustbin of history.
PARIS – French police have banned a demonstration planned to take place in front of the US Embassy in Paris on Saturday as protests mount around the world over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The Paris police department said on Friday it had decided to ban the demonstrations because of the risks of social disorder and health dangers from large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trouble had broken out at another anti-police demonstration in the French capital on Wednesday. Thousands had turned up despite a police ban on the event in memory of Adama Traore, a 24-year old black Frenchman who died in a 2016 police operation which some have likened to Floyd’s death.
Unrest has broken out across the United States after the killing of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died after a white policeman pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.